When it comes to Thanksgiving leftovers, everyone tends to talk turkey, as in turkey soup, turkey enchiladas, and of course, turkey sandwiches. But side dish leftovers can be transformed into delicious main dishes, stretching your leftover menus (and your budget) even further. So be sure to wrap up all the extras on the t-day table and read on.

Please Note: When working with leftovers, remember that you have already seasoned a core ingredient as a side dish. To prevent over-seasoning the leftover dish, hold off on adding salt and pepper until you are done with the recipe instructions (unless otherwise noted), or it may prove to be too salty.

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is a humble leftover dish that originated in the United Kingdom. It’s an easy casserole that can be put together quickly, and an ideal way to use up large quantities of mashed potatoes. Makes 8 servings.

What You Need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can peas and carrots, or 1 cup canned peas and 1 cup leftover carrots, diced
  • 5 cups mashed potatoes, warmed slightly in the microwave
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup milk (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Warm olive oil in a large fry pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the onion and sauté until onions are tender and translucent, about seven minutes.
  4. Add the ground beef and cook thoroughly, stirring occasionally. Stir in salt and remove from heat. Drain any excess liquid at this point.
  5. Stir in tomatoes, and then peas and carrots. Pour into a medium sized casserole dish.
  6. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, break up the potatoes (warming them beforehand in the microwave helps with this). Incorporate the shredded cheese, and if the potatoes seem too thick, add a little milk until smooth.
  7. Taste potatoes and season if needed.
  8. Blanket the potatoes to cover the meat. An offset spatula makes spreading the potatoes an easy task.
  9. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the potatoes begin the brown and the liquid starts to bubble at the sides.

Roasted Carrot Soup

Roasting carrots are not only a time (and stove space) saver on Thanksgiving, it really brings out the earthy flavor of this often under-appreciated root vegetable, which in turns adds depth to this soup. Since the carrots have already been seasoned once before, wait to season until the soup is completed to avoid over-salting. Makes 2-3 servings.

What You Need:

  • 2 tablespoons garlic flavored olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 cups roasted carrots
  • 2 ½ cups chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Warm olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onion and sauté until onions are tender and translucent, about seven minutes.
  3. Add the carrots and sauté for two minutes more.
  4. Pour in about 1 cup of the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 to 12 minutes.
  5. Pour soup into a blender and puree. It will be very thick.
  6. Return the soup to the saucepan. Stir in the remaining broth and stir soup over medium heat until the broth is warmed though.
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Mock Panade

Let the others brave the packed Black Friday malls while you enjoy a quiet afternoon with a good book and a bowl of panade. Judy Rodger’s Zuni Café Cookbook introduced many in the food world to the panade, an Italian gooey bread and cheese comfort dish. A true panade thriftily uses stale bread as the dish’s base. Since we’re utilizing leftover stuffing (just as thrifty) this is not a true panade, but you’ll get the idea of why they are all the rage. If your stuffing seems soft or soggy to begin with, reduce the amount of chicken stock you use. A simple stuffing works best for this dish. Makes 4 servings.

What You Need:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 3 cups leftover stuffing
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups Swiss Gruyere cheese
  • One-quart soufflé dish

What You Do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat in a fry pan. Add the onions and sauté for five minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce to the heat to low/medium-low and slowly cook the onions until they have caramelized, about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove onions with a slotted spoon to a bowl.
  3. In the same pan, warm the stuffing over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  4. In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock.
  5. Assemble the mock panade. Scatter half of the caramelized onions across the bottom of the soufflé dish. Add ½ of the stuffing, and sprinkle 1 cup of the cheese on top of the stuffing. Repeat with remaining onions, stuffing and cheese.
  6. Pour the chicken stock, ½ cup at a time, around the edges of the dish until it reaches the top.
  7. Cover dish with a piece of parchment paper, and then secure that with a piece of aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes. Turn the heat up to 375, remove the parchment paper and foil and brown the top for about 10 minutes.