Put those Thanksgiving leftovers to good use and make this cheesy turkey casserole with spinach, pancetta, and a crispy breadcrumb topping.
Cheesy Turkey Casserole
Planning, prepping, cooking and serving a large holiday meal is a challenging undertaking, but coming up with creative and tasty ways to use the leftovers? Um, hello scary. I find a fridge full of leftovers intimidating and a lot of the time our tasty odds and ends from big dinners languish in the fridge just to be tossed out a few days later. I know, it’s terrible – I hate to even admit it.
Part of the problem is the amount of food we cook. For example, we piled our table high with all sorts of dishes for Christmas dinner – enough to feed a small army. In planning, I try to limit the number of sides, but inevitably I end up with all sorts of stuff because “we have to have this” or “we can’t have Christmas dinner without that”. That’s how you end up with three kinds of potatoes. It gets a little out of hand.
So now we have a fridge of leftovers, but I refuse to be intimidated by them this time. We’ve already had a few rounds of sandwiches and I made an awesome “turkey bowl” – mashed potatoes topped with veggies, cheese, turkey, and a dollop of cranberry sauce. So we’re making progress – the goal is to use it all up.
Next on the list? Cheesy Turkey Casserole.
Thanksgiving Leftovers Casserole
Don’t you think casseroles are the best way to use up leftovers? They’re versatile, easy to make, and can be frozen for future dinners. I made this one with the goal to use as much as possible without making it a freak show of ingredients:
- Leftover turkey,
- We had Yorkshire puddings leftover, but any kind of bread will work – leftover dinner rolls, sliced bread, etc.
- Cooked pancetta or bacon
- Shredded cheddar cheese
I also used pasta, milk, leftover fresh herbs, spices and Dijon mustard to make this casserole. Just a few other ingredients to pull all of those leftovers together.
How to Make the Casserole
- It all starts with a simple cheddar cheese sauce made with butter, milk, flour, herbs and mustard. To it, you add the leftover turkey, spinach, some herbs, and tiny bit of dijon mustard.
- Then you mix in the pasta and pour it all into a baking dish. Top it with breadcrumbs (you can chop up leftover dinner rolls in a food processor or use leftover breadcrumbs from the stuffing).
- After sprinkling the breadcrumbs over the top, add the cooked pancetta or bacon and a bit more shredded cheddar.
- After about 40ish minutes in the oven, it came out hot, bubbly, and cheesy.
- We each devoured a bowlful for lunch and then I wrapped up the remainder to store in the freezer to reheat for dinner on a busy weeknight. Done and done. Thank you, leftovers!
More Cozy Comfort Food RecipesPrint
A cheesy casserole with leftover roast turkey and spinach with a crispy pancetta and breadcrumb topping.
- 8 ounces short pasta (I used mezze penne)
- 4 ounces diced pancetta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon fresh herb mix (I used parsley and thyme)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- 1 cup roasted turkey, cubed
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a small pan, cook the pancetta over medium heat until crispy. Remove it from the pan and let it drain on paper towels.
- Boil pasta for half the recommended time listed on the package, drain and set aside. In the same pot that the pasta was cooked in, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for about two minutes. Add the two tablespoons of flour to the garlic and butter and whisk to combine. Let it cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the milk and whisk until smooth. Allow it to cook for several minutes until it starts to thicken. Add the chopped herbs, salt, pepper, and Dijon.
- Once the sauce has thickened, add 1 cup of the grated cheddar and whisk until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, dilute it with a splash of milk. Add the fresh spinach, turkey, and cooked pasta to the cheese mixture, stir to combine. Pour the mixture into an 8×8 square baking dish. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of grated cheese, breadcrumbs, and crispy pancetta.
- Cover the dish with tin foil and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove the tin foil and continue baking for another 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese on top has melted. Let stand a few minutes before serving.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
- Calories: 686
- Sugar: 6.5g
- Sodium: 747.2mg
- Fat: 35.9g
- Saturated Fat: 17.1g
- Unsaturated Fat: 15.6
- Trans Fat: 0.5g
- Carbohydrates: 56.3g
- Fiber: 2.5g
- Protein: 32.9g
- Cholesterol: 112.7mg
Keywords: turkey casserole, thanksgiving leftovers recipe
The nutrition information in this recipe is an estimate only and was calculated using Nutrifox, an online nutrition calculator.