Go ahead, call me old-fashioned, because one of my favorite ways to use turkey leftovers is in a homey casserole.
The classic comfort food casserole, Turkey Tetrazzini, has been terribly maligned over the years by school cafeterias and hospital kitchens. Just the name of this dish conjures up the image of school children in a lunch line immediately silenced when handed plates of starchy pasta with turkey and army-green peas all glued together with a goopy sauce. That's not what the chef who created this dish had in mind. What was intended was a bubbly hot dish of al dente spaghetti with a scattering of tender poultry, an optional addition of bright green peas, covered with a silken cream sauce under a crusty topping of mixed bread crumbs and Parmesan.
This recipe uses 3 1/2 cups of diced cooked turkey in a casserole that easily serves eight. If your inclinations for roasting a big bird are anything like mine, you'll probably have yet more turkey leftover for an old-fashioned sandwich or two.
Morgan is author of "Cooking For The Week: Leisurely Weekend Cooking For Easy Weekday Meals," (Chronicle Books, $18.95).
Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 45 minutes
3/4 pound dried spaghetti
6 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing
6 tablespoons flour
3 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
3/4 cup whipping cream
Freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 1/2 cups (1/2-inch-dice) cooked turkey
1 (10-ounce) package frozen green peas
1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
* Cook pasta in plenty of rapidly boiling, lightly salted water until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, drain again, and set aside.
* In 10-inch saute pan, melt 6 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir until faintly colored, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in stock or broth, and stir sauce until smooth and thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste, rosemary, thyme and nutmeg. Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in turkey and peas and warm through on low heat, 3 to 5 minutes.
* Put pasta in buttered 13x9-inch baking dish and spoon turkey mixture over. In small bowl, combine bread crumbs and cheese. Sprinkle evenly over sauce. Bake at 375 degrees, uncovered, until heated through and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Preheat broiler and quickly brown top of casserole. Serve immediately.
8 servings. Each serving: 570 calories; 832 mg sodium; 105 mg cholesterol; 23 grams fat; 57 grams carbohydrates; 33 grams protein; 0.95 gram fiber.