Turkey Leftovers Part 2: Turkey Pesto

Basil for Pesto
Basil for Pesto

As I said last time, if you are like me, you’re probably still pretty tired of turkey leftovers.  So, here’s another recipe for what you can do with your turkey to fix a meal that lets you escape from the same flavors you’ve been eating for the last four days!

Yes, that means it’s time for

Turkey Pesto Pasta with Leftover Turkey

Nothing says Thanksgiving relief to me like Italian food.  That may sound strange, but every since I was a kid, my dad and I would make lasagna every Thanksgiving night because it, in no way, tasted liked the Turkey Day meal we had had at lunch which would invariably turn into the Thanksgiving meal we’d be eating for the next week.

And while the thought did occur to me to make a turkey-rich bolognese (meat sauce), I figured I’d take Thanksgiving leftovers in a new direction.  I’d saute them and cook them with a creamy pesto.  Calorie rich, sure.  But I’m betting most of us aren’t starting our post-Turkey Day diets until after the leftovers are gone.  Or New Year’s…

Making Turkey Pesto from Leftover Turkey

This is a three part recipe.  The three parts by themselves are:

1.  Make the pesto sauce
2.  Saute the turkey
3.  Boil the pasta

However, to time this recipe just right, we’re going to start the pesto sauce, get our pasta going, then saute the turkey, then finish the pesto and combine them all together.  It will all make sense I promise, I just wanted to give you fair warning now: I’m going to list the ingredients for each part separately, but the directions will show how to do all of the parts together in order.

You will need:

For the pesto

  • 4 tablespoons pine nuts (if no one has any nut allergies)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch of basil, stems removed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup heavy cream

For the turkey

  • 4 ounces butter
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • leftover turkey

For the pasta

  • 1 box rigatoni
  • Good amount of salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder

(Don’t worry, this recipe is very simple.)

Preheat your oven to 350.  Toast the pine nuts on a cookie sheet until the instant they smell nutty and then pull them out of the oven.  You only need about 2 tablespoons, but I swear I burn some every time, so I usually bake 4 tablespoons.

In a food processor, add the pine nuts, basil, and garlic.  Pulse several times until the garlic is pretty well broken up.  Then slowly start to drizzle in the olive oil.  What you have won’t look anything like a smooth pesto, but that’s okay.  We’ll add it to some warm cream in a few minutes.

Let the pesto hang out in the food processor while you get the pasta water going.  When the water is boiling, add enough salt to make the water taste like sea water along with the garlic powder and the box of rigatoni.  Pull the pasta out when it is cooked through, but still firm (aka al dente.)

While the water is boiling, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the turkey and the garlic powder and cook until the turkey starts to brown slightly.  It should already be cooked, all you’re doing is caramelizing it a bit and adding some nice flavors.

Finally, in a saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the heavy cream.  When it starts to steam, add the pesto and stir.  The cream should by very green in appearance.  When it is, kill the heat and put the pasta and sauce in the turkey skillet.  Stir well and top with grated parmesan.

After that, grab a fork and enjoy!

Thanks to edithbruck for the picture!

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