- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The day after Thanksgiving, you may be at the mall searching out holiday bargains. I’ll be at home looking for jars of mayonnaise and sweet pickles so I can assemble my favorite turkey leftover of all: the sandwich.

But when guests are still in town, it’s nice to turn what’s left of the roasted bird into something special. That calls for this casserole. It’s a favorite, a streamlined version of our old family recipe that contains refrigerated Alfredo sauce instead of from-scratch white sauce.

I add cooked vermicelli, green olives and Parmesan cheese, along with the turkey, then pecans on top. It’s sheer magic in the mouth.

Nothing, though, is memorable about turkey that has lingered too long on the kitchen counter. After the Thanksgiving meal, if possible, go ahead and break down (that’s restaurant kitchen talk) the turkey, removing the skin and bones (unless you are going to make turkey stock), and refrigerate the meat in small packages for up to three days.

If you’ve got more turkey than you can use in this casserole and in three days’ worth of sandwiches, send some home with your happy dinner guests.

Five time-shaving meals with 2 cups leftover roasted turkey

• Add the turkey to your favorite white-bean-chili recipe.

• Thai turkey: Place the turkey in a medium saucepan. Add water to cover (4 cups), a sliced clove of garlic, a 2-ounce packet of Thai cellophane noodles, a handful of fresh spinach leaves and a teaspoon of chopped ginger root. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, then serve in bowls.

• Make quesadillas: Place 1/2 cup of turkey and 1/2 cup of cheese along with a spoonful of your favorite salsa between two large flour tortillas. Cook on a lightly oiled griddle until crisp on both sides.

• Salad: Place a small bag of pre-washed spinach leaves in a mixing bowl. Add 1 cup pre-sliced mushrooms, the turkey, a drained 11-ounce can of mandarin oranges, a handful of crumbled feta or blue cheese, and your favorite Asian vinaigrette to moisten the leaves.

• Call this turkey souvlaki for two. It sort of rhymes. Toss together the turkey with 1 chopped cucumber, 1 chopped scallion, 4 black olives, 1 cup halved grape tomatoes, 1/4 cup plain yogurt, 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, black pepper, salt and chopped fresh mint to taste.

Turkey the second time around menu

Turkey tetrazzini

Green salad

Split and toasted rolls

Slices of pumpkin pie warmed under the broiler

Turkey tetrazzini

The preparation time is 20 minutes, and the cooking time is 25 to 30 minutes.

Salt for cooking the pasta, optional

8 ounces vermicelli, broken into thirds

1 10-ounce container refrigerated Alfredo-style pasta sauce

1 10.75-ounce can cream of mushroom soup

3 cups shredded or chopped leftover cooked turkey

1 cup pre-shredded Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup drained pre-sliced pimiento-stuffed green olives

2 tablespoons golden or dry sherry

1/4 cup pre-chopped pecans

Bring a medium pot of water to boil over high heat. Add salt, if desired, and stir in the vermicelli. Reduce heat to medium-high, and cook vermicelli, uncovered, until al dente, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Reserve ½ cup pasta cooking water, then drain the vermicelli well in a colander, shaking it a few times to remove any water that might still cling to the pasta.

Transfer the pasta to a large mixing bowl. Add Alfredo sauce, mushroom soup, reserved cooking water, turkey, Parmesan cheese, olives and sherry, and stir until well-combined. Scoop mixture into a 13-by-9-inch (3-quart) glass or ceramic baking dish. Scatter pecans over the top.

Bake the casserole in a preheated 375-degree oven until it is bubbling throughout, 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove casserole from oven; serve at once or cover it with aluminum foil to keep it warm. Serve within 30 minutes. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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