pasta, carbonara, thanksgiving, holidays, ragu, bolognese

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Italian Style

Don’t despair over loads of leftovers—make these Italian-style meals with all your turkey day trimmings.

By Paesana

Thanksgiving spread with all the fixings on a contemporary classic table

Our Italian-American Thanksgivings tend to be grand events where food and family are the stars of the show. We want everyone who joins us at the table to be so well fed that their only recourse is to fall asleep on the couch immediately after the meal!

We like to achieve this goal by cooking much more food than is required by the number of our guests. Oh, only 10 guests expected this Thanksgiving? That’s fine. We’ll cook enough food for 40 guests. Cooking more than one needs is not a miscalculation or a flaunting of excess. Instead, it serves multiple purposes—to make our guests feel sleepy and to ensure we have enough leftovers to create some of our favorite Italian-American style dishes in the days and weeks after turkey day. 

That’s right. The traditions of the Italian-American Thanksgiving live on through bountiful arrays of leftovers. And here are a handful of our absolute favorites:

Gnocchi With Leftover Mashed Potatoes


Mashed Potato Gnochi

Photo Credit: Food 52

When Thanksgiving gives you more mashed potatoes that you can handle, turn them into soft and pillowy gnocchi. As you know, gnocchi are small Italian dumplings usually made from potato, semolina, and flour. Though not a type of pasta, these delicious morsels are oftentimes mentioned in the same breath as penne, rigatoni, or ravioli. Gnocchi takes to all kinds of pasta sauce really well, from pesto to tomato sauce and everything in between, and it's a great option for using leftover mashed potatoes. The secret is to use less egg and more flour when forming them, to account for the added moisture of the milk and butter that’s probably already in the mashed potatoes.

Here’s an easy recipe you can follow!


Turkey Bolognese



Photo Credit: Food Network

If you didn’t end Thanksgiving with leftover turkey, then you didn’t make a big enough turkey! We never buy a turkey that’s less than 20 pounds, no matter how many guests we entertain. This way, there’s plenty of bird leftover for soup, pot pie, and yes, bolognese. This type of ragù can take an entire day to prepare from scratch, but when you incorporate leftover turkey, it can be thrown together in minutes. Simply saute finely diced onions, carrots, and celery in olive oil until they become fragrant, then add chopped garlic, shredded turkey, and tomato paste. Deglaze with red wine, and finally add marinara sauce. Cook for about 8-10 minutes and that's it! Toss with your favorite pasta and your simple bolognese is ready to eat. 

Check out this recipe from Food Network’s Giada de Laurentiis.


Turkey Carbonara


Leftover Turkey Carbonara

Photo Credit: Not Another Cooking Show

We guarantee that this will be your new go-to recipe for leftover Thanksgiving turkey. To make it, you apply the same principles and techniques used for traditional carbonara—but instead of using guanciale or pancetta, you augment the recipe with fat, dark meat, and skin from the leftover turkey. The turkey meat gives the carbonara a protein-rich bite, while fat emulsifies into silky sauce, and the skin gives a satisfying crunch. 

We found this amazing turkey carbonara recipe tutorial here!


Ribollita With Leftover Veggies & Bread



Photo Credit: Serious Eats

Ribo-what? Ribollita. It’s a classic Tuscan bread soup seemingly tailor made for Thanksgiving leftovers. This hearty, peasant-style soup can be filled to the brim with any roasted veggies still hanging out in the fridge, along with cannellini beans, turkey (or chicken) broth, and large chunks of roughly chopped bread—semi-stale Italian bread or dinner rolls will do just fine. The best part of cooking ribollita is that preparing the soup gives you plenty of opportunities to improvise. Aside from the broth, the soup is all about whatever vegetables and bread you have on hand. You can use a medley of roasted fall vegetables or even hearty greens like kale. Simply bring it all together, then add the bread just before serving!

Here's a recipe you can use as a guide!


Thanksgiving Frittata


Photo Credit: Food Network

This egg-based amalgamation uses any and all of the Thanksgiving leftovers you’ve grown tired of watching take up space in your fridge. Take rough-chopped turkey, spoonfuls of stuffing, handfuls of mashed potatoes, unused herbs, lingering veggies and add it all into an oiled cast iron skillet. Heat through and through, then add some cheese if you desire and at least four eggs. Mix it all around, season with salt and pepper to taste, then put it all into the oven for about 10 minutes or just until the eggs set. A truly Italian breakfast, brunch, or dinner worthy of a chef’s kiss!

Here’s a basic recipe you can follow, but add in and substitute your own Thanksgiving leftovers!

Subscribe to the Blog
Featured Articles