Harvest on Hudson – The Zero Waste Thanksgiving

by Marcie Cuff

p-24-harvest-on-the-hudsonIt’s November, and if you’re anything like me, you’re already leafing through dog-eared pages of beloved holiday cookbooks. Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away, and I love everything about it—family gathered around the table, and turkey with all the fixings—gravy, cranberry sauce, potatoes, green beans, stuffing and pie. And more pie. In the end, we always have extras of everything at our house. In fact, Thanksgiving is probably the biggest “leftover” holiday of the year in the U.S.

This year, minimize your holiday waste and celebrate Thanksgiving all week. Don’t limit yourself to turkey sandwiches and day-after turkey soup, though. The possibilities for your extras are endless! Of all the things that taste better the next day, Thanksgiving leftovers top the list. What’s not to like about things smothered and baked in crispy leftover mashed potatoes? The wonderful thing about leftovers is that there are no rules. Leftovers are very forgiving, and nobody expects much from them.

Below are a few ideas—just outlines—of things cobbled together from Thanksgiving leftovers. No need to carefully arrange things. No need to be obsessive. Just relax and enjoy your Thanksgiving meal to the very last drop. Give new life to your leftovers and they will blend together into something infinitely greater than the sum of the parts. Plus, there is a little snowflake-y specialness to leftovers—no two finished products will ever be exactly alike.

Morning Meals

Cranberry Smoothie

Freeze leftover cranberry sauce in an ice cube tray. Combine 6 frozen cranberry cubes, 1 banana, 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup milk, 1 Tbs hempseed, and 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon in blender. Blend until smooth.

Cranberry Parfait

Layer Greek yogurt and leftover cranberry sauce in a glass. Top with salted almonds and pumpkin seeds.

Snacks and Sides

Day-After Dip

Strain, rinse and puree a can of cannellini beans with one garlic clove. Combine with 1 cup leftover mashed sweet potatoes or squash. Serve with crackers.

Mashed Muffins

In bowl, mix 3 cups leftover mashed potatoes, one egg, 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, and 2 Tbs chopped chives. Divide mixture evenly into greased muffin tin. Bake 30 minutes at 375. Top with 1/4 cup cheddar cheese. Bake an additional 5 minutes. Transfer to serving dish and top with 1 Tbs chopped chives.

Stuffing Waffles

In large bowl, combine 4 cups leftover stuffing with 2 eggs. Add 1/4 cup chicken broth. Scoop half of the stuffing mixture into prepared waffle maker, spreading it evenly. Heat until golden. Top with leftover cranberry sauce.

Midday to Evening Meals

Veggie Shepherd’s Stuffing Pie

Mix 2 cups leftover stuffing and 4 Tbs vegetable broth in bowl. Press into bottom of deep-dish pie pan. Add 3 cups leftover Thanksgiving vegetables (cooked carrots, green beans, peas). Top everything with 3 cups of mashed potatoes. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes.

Cranberry Brie Quesadilla

Spread mustard on a flour tortilla. On one half, layer leftover turkey, cranberry sauce, brie cheese, salt and pepper. Fold in half and brush the top with olive oil. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes. Slice into wedges.

Curry Turkey Sandwich

Chop 1 cup leftover turkey and mix with 1 tsp curry powder and 2 Tbs mayonnaise. Layer on pumpernickel bread with stuffing.

Sweet Stuff

Cranberry Gelato

Freeze large metal bowl for 1 hour. Mix 2 cups leftover cranberry sauce, 1 cup heavy cream, 1 cup whole milk and 1/2 cup sugar in bowl. Transfer mixture into frozen bowl. Stir mixture every 45 minutes for two hours. Chill overnight. Serve with mint sprig.

Ice Cream Pie Sandwiches

Spread leftover pumpkin pie on graham crackers. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Top with another graham cracker.

Marcie Cuff lives in Irvington, works at the NY Botanical Garden, and is the author of “This Book Was a Tree”(Perigee Books). For more ideas like this, look for her book at any bookstore, or visit her blog Mossy at http://mossymossy.com.

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