Wednesday, November 28, 2012

More Turkey Leftovers - Turkey Mac & Cheese

Are you sick of turkey leftovers yet? I'm not. I love turkey. But, maybe you want to save those turkey leftovers for a couple of months down the road, when you will make some hearty turkey soup in the middle of winter. You can freeze the meat if you wrap it well. I wouldn't recommend thawed frozen cooked turkey for a sandwich but it works great for soups and salads where the soup or mayo can moisten the turkey. It's a dry meat that only gets drier after freezing.

Here's another option: make a casserole with it and freeze the casserole. Or eat it this week, if you aren't sick of turkey. :-)

This is a great recipe for extending a fairly modest amount of turkey. You don't even need to use turkey. It's good with chunks of ham or tofu too. This isn't creamy, cheesy mac & cheese. It is extremely easy, however.

Turkey, Tomato & Cheese Casserole
(serves 6-8, costs $11.80)

1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked to al dente and drained (see Notes)
2 cups cooked turkey, cut into ½ to 1" cubes, about 12 ounces
1 large can (28 ounces) diced peeled tomatoes, drained
15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese (that's a whole medium container)
1 cup milk or cream
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
4 - 6 medium scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano or dried marjoram (see Notes)
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon black pepper
1 slice of bread, grated to make crumbs, about ½ cup of fresh bread crumbs (optional)
2 Tablespoon butter, melted (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter or spray with non-stick spray a 9 x 13 x 2" baking pan.

Combine the macaroni, turkey, tomatoes, ricotta cheese, milk, cheddar cheese, scallions, oregano, salt and pepper in a large bowl and pour into the prepared pan. You can even mix it directly in the baking dish but it is a bit challenging to mix it without making a mess.

If you want a little bit of a crunchy crust, combine the bread crumbs with the melted butter and sprinkle over the casserole. Bake for 40 minutes until hot and golden brown on top.

  • You don't want to overcook the macaroni because it's going to cook some more in the oven. You want it just done, which takes about 8 minutes of cooking.

  • You know those packets of herbs you get with take-out pizza? That's mostly oregano. They can be used here if you have them.

This recipe is loosely based on one in The Turkey Cookbook by Rick Rodgers.

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