Loving the Leftovers: Five Key Tips

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

This Thursday, we’ll be feasting on turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and all the trimmings. And on Friday, we’ll have a fridge crammed with leftovers.

If you decorated your table as I did mine, link to last week’ story with a bounty of produce, you’ll have those fruits and vegetables to deal with as well. How to manage it all and avoid waste?

Here are Five tips to get you organized.

  1. Share the bounty. Have zip-top freezer bags and disposable containers on hand and invite guests to take home some leftovers. Allow them to dismantle the centerpiece and divide up the produce; keep just enough for your own needs. Remember though, that squash, pomegranates and many of the other produce will keep for a while—you can stash them on your countertop to cook later.
  2. When dealing with the leftovers, tackle the turkey carcass first. It’s a big, bulky thing that will crowd your fridge. Either simmer it for stock the next day, or break up the bones and stash them in the freezer to make stock later. A good way to make stock is in your slow cooker. Simply cover the bones with water, add some cut up onions, carrots and celery, and set the slow cooker to simmer for 4 or 5 hours.
  3. When surveying the leftovers in your refrigerator, think triage. Decide which dishes have the shortest shelf life and prioritize an order in which the leftovers will be consumed. Don’t serve all the leftovers at every meal. It’s a sure way to turn the family off by subjecting them to the same food, day after day.
  4. Freeze what is freezable. But identify and date all the packages and inventory them first. You don’t want to find the ghost of Thanksgiving past haunting you next Thanksgiving.
  5. Repurpose what you can, to give leftovers a new look. Mashed potatoes can become the topping for shepherd’s pie. Vegetables can be incorporated into pizza or pasta. Be creative.

And what about the produce that was your centerpiece? Roast any squash to serve as a side dish, or turn the roasted vegetable into squash soup.

Roasted Squash
2 or 3 assorted squash, such as acorn, butternut or delicata
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 425°F. Halve squash lengthwise; scoop out seeds. Lay squash cut side down on a cutting board and slice crosswise into ½-inch-thick semi-circles. Lay squash on parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and bake about ½ hour, or until squash is soft when pierced with a knife, turning once.

If squash has tough, inedible skin, remove with a paring knife after roasting. (You can eat the skin of delicata squash.)

Serve hot or at room temperature. Or turn it into Roasted Squash Soup.

Roasted Squash Soup
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 ½ cups mashed roasted squash
1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
Sour cream (optional)

In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat butter; add onion and sauté until onion is translucent. Add squash and broth and bring to simmer. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes, until soup is hot.

Remove from heat and pour contents into a blender; blend until smooth. Do not overfill the blender. Blend in batches, if necessary. Be careful with hot soup—always put a dish towel over the cover in case soup spurts out the top. Return soup to the saucepan and heat to simmering. Ladle into bowls and add a dollop of sour cream, if desired.

Makes 3 to 4 servings.

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Posted: Nov 20th by Sandy_Hu