May 17, 2022

A la Carte: A Delicious New Twist on Turkey Left-Overs

Lee White

If you are reading this on Wednesday with your morning coffee and you are lucky enough to have scored a Thanksgiving dinner at someone else’s house tomorrow, you are like me.

I was asked to make two pies (one apple, one pumpkin), green beans and corn bread. In any case, I will be making these things this evening and all I need to do is show up an hour ahead of the dinner and find an unused counter to stash the pies.

Or maybe you are reading this on Thursday, and everyone will arrive at your house in a few hours.

Hopefully you have asked friends and family to make the pies, a vegetable and rolls or corn bread. If that is the case, this will be your last 15 minutes before you put the turkey into the oven.

All you have to worry about is what to do with the leftover 22-pound turkey since a third of the 15 people you have invited decided they are still worried about COVID and decided to stay home.

On Friday, unless my friends insisted I take home turkey, dressing, gravy, sides and pie, I might bake a 13-pound turkey from my freezer and make it so I have leftovers.

I love turkey for turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey salad and casseroles layered of the meat, potatoes, veggies and gravy. Or pieces of turkey in a skillet with onions, garlic, red curry, some boxed chicken broth and coconut milk atop a cup of basmati rice. 

Almost 15 years ago, I made the recipe below. My family and I liked it a lot, but I never made it again.  Try this entrée instead of three days of turkey sandwiches.

Chicken or Turkey Quesadilla Suiza

This recipe offers a new twist on the traditional quesadilla shown here. Photo by Lottie Griffiths on Unsplash.

Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray (November, 2007)

Yield: 2 servings

1 cup chopped roast chicken or turkey
¼  cup mild salsa verde (regular red salsa will do)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 8-inch whole wheat (or spinach or regular) flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Monterey jack or queso fresca cheese
1 scallions, chopped
green olives with pimiento, chopped (a small handful)
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro

  1. Preheat the broiler. In a small bowl, combine chicken or turkey and salsa and heat in the microwave for a minute.
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add a tortilla and cook for 30 minutes, then flip and cook for 30 seconds more; slide the tortilla onto a cutting board.
  3. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil in the skillet, then add remaining tortilla and cook for 30 seconds. Flip the tortilla and sprinkle with half of the cheese. Top with the first tortilla.
  4. Slide onto a baking sheet and top with chicken mixture, remaining cheese, scallions, olives and cilantro.
  5. Place the quesadilla under broiler six inches from the heat and cook until the tortillas are crisp around the edges, about 2 minutes.
  6. Slide the quesadilla onto a cutting board, cut into four pieces and serve.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for and the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day. She was a resident of Old Lyme for many years but now lives in Groton, Conn.
Contact Lee at

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