Tips for using leftover turkey

By Tommie M. James - Guest columnist

Part of the pleasure of a Thanksgiving is the aroma of a turkey baking in your oven. Continue that great feeling by planning post-holiday dishes with your leftover turkey.

Turkey is a nutritious and healthy food choice because it provides us with protein along with other key nutrients. A serving is three ounces cooked turkey, that’s about the size of a deck of cards. One serving of roasted, skinless turkey will provide you with: 129 calories, 2.6 grams fat, .9 milligrams saturated fat, 64 milligrams cholesterol, 59 milligrams sodium, 25 grams protein and 1.5 milligrams iron.

When handling turkey leftovers, follow these food safety guidelines:

1. Debone turkey and refrigerate all leftovers in shallow containers within 2 hours of cooking.

2. Use leftover turkey within 3 to 4 days, stuffing and gravy within 1 to 2 days, or freeze these foods.

3. When reheating turkey, reheat thoroughly to a temperature of 165 F or until hot and steaming throughout.

Turkey makes a great first meal, plus delicious leftovers that are easy to combine for a variety of scrumptious future meals. Here are simple and tasty recipes to help you use your leftover turkey.

Turkey Tarragon Pitas

(Serves 4)

½ cup lemon yogurt

1 Tablespoon mayonnaise

¼ teaspoon dried Tarragon leaves, finely chopped

2 cups fully-cooked turkey breast, cut into ½ inch cubes

½ cup green grapes, sliced in half

2-6 inch whole wheat pita bread, cut in half

4 pieces of leaf lettuce

In medium bowl combine yogurt, mayonnaise, and tarragon. Fold in the turkey and grapes; cover and refrigerate at least one hour. Line the inside of pitas with lettuce. Then fill pitas with turkey mixture.

Turkey Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

(Makes 4, 1- ½ servings)

Orange Vinaigrette:

¼ cup orange juice

2 Tablespoons finely chopped onion

¼ teaspoon salt

Dash of pepper

1 Tablespoon oil

2 teaspoons spicy mustard


4 cups torn salad greens

2 cups cooked turkey breast, cut into julienne strips

1 (11 oz) can mandarin oranges, drained

½ cup sliced celery

In a jar with tight-fitting lid, combine all vinaigrette ingredients; shake will. In large bowl, combine all salad ingredients; toss gently. Serve with vinaigrette. If desired, garnish with fresh strawberries.

Source: North Caroline State Cooperative Extension

For additional information on holiday meal preparation and food safety, contact Tommie M. James, FCS Extension Educator at the Bryan County OSU Extension by calling 924-5312 or by e-mail The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its program to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, or status as a veteran and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

By Tommie M. James

Guest columnist

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