Before you go full Dagwood on your perfect sandwich, take a page from these inspired chefs and think of those leftovers as flavor-packed shortcuts to next-level dishes.

By Josh Miller and Nina Friend
November 19, 2020
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Credit: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

The feast is over, and the dishes are done. But after a good nap, those leftovers will be calling your name. From filled pasta and fluffy pancakes to packed pitas and loaded lasagna, these recipes will wake up your weary palate and have you looking forward to leftovers in a whole new way.

Griddle Me This

Credit: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Douglass Williams (Mida, Boston)

“My great-grandmother, who is 102, would always make candied sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving,” says Douglass Williams, a 2020 F&W Best New Chef. “I wanted to try to find a way to use those sweet potatoes the day after.” Since the potatoes are already sweetened, Williams cuts back the amount of brown sugar in the pancakes and plays up the warming cinnamon and clove.

Get the Recipe: Candied Sweet Potato Pancakes

Much Ado About Stuffing

Credit: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Zoë Kanan (Happy Cooking Hospitality, New York City)

“I was inspired by the overstuffed, colorful, and briny pitas of Tel Aviv,” Kanan says of this next-level Thanksgiving sandwich. “The key here is introducing crunch to the sandwich. Use my recipe as a guide, and riff by including whatever textural ingredients you have around, like fried onions, sunflower seeds, or even wasabi peas.”

Get the Recipe: Stuffing “Falafel” Pitas with Tahini Gravy

Super Bowls

Credit: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Shota Nakajima (Taku, Seattle)

As a kid, whenever Nakajima was hungry, he’d grab anything left over from the previous meal to make soup or fried rice. “I grew up in a Japanese family, and I was taught to never waste anything,” Nakajima says. This soup, a riff on his mother’s recipe, relies on two umami-packed ingredients, dashi and soy sauce, to add depth to buttery leftover mashed potatoes.

Get the Recipe: Creamy Mashed Potato Soup with Dashi

Mission Impastable

Credit: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Sarah Grueneberg (Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio, Chicago)

“I love Thanksgiving leftovers, so I still want my leftovers dishes to embody those Thanksgiving flavors,” says chef Sarah Grueneberg. “I call for roasted butternut squash, but if you make a great roasted sweet potato dish for the big event, those leftovers would be perfect in this lasagna.” Pan-fried sage leaves add an elegant twist.

Get the Recipe: Turkey and Butternut Squash Lasagna with Crispy Sage

Thanks, Brodo

Credit: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Tavel Bristol-Joseph (Emmer & Rye, Hestia, Kalimotxo, Henbit, and TLV, Austin)

“After eating heavy food on Thanksgiving, it’s nice to have something lighter the day after,” says 2020 F&W Best New Chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph. His agnolotti feature a smart shortcut—store-bought fresh lasagna sheets—and are served in a broth made from leftover turkey bones.

Get the Recipe: Mashed Potato and Ham Agnolotti in Turkey Bone Broth

Cranberry Feels Forever

Credit: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Brittanny Anderson (Brenner Pass, Chairlift, and Metzger Bar & Butchery, Richmond, Virginia)

“Most of us only make cranberry sauce once a year, and there’s always leftovers,” says Anderson. “A vinaigrette is the perfect place to use it all up.” In this salad, Anderson pairs the sweetness of cranberries with bitter winter chicories—the ideal combination for day-after-Thanksgiving lunch.

Get the Recipe: Chicory Salad with Cranberry Sauce Vinaigrette