When I was a child, my grandmother used to roast two enormous turkeys at the holidays, in addition to the usual gravies and sauces, sides and pies. For days the entire family would eat Grandma's famous "blue plate special," our euphemism for leftovers.
Fast-forward to today. Turkey has a bit of an identity crisis. On one hand it is associated with a day reserved for feasting with abandon. On the other, it is a lean protein whose versatility should be celebrated. Just one serving of skinless turkey meat has more than half the protein you need for an entire day (and less than 1 gram of fat). Plus, turkey is a good source of vitamin B and selenium.
Not only is turkey a healthy choice, but it's a versatile one, too. And its versatility is the key to avoiding leftover fatigue. Instead of ladling out leftover gravy on yet another open-faced turkey sandwich with stuffing, trick your palate into thinking it's getting something altogether different.
In Turkey and Napa Cabbage Salad With Lime-Ginger Vinaigrette, I take the taste buds someplace decidedly un-Thanksgiving-y.
I lean toward the antifeast by making a fresh dinner salad with crunchy veggies and a bright citrus-y dressing. And I change the flavor profile by bringing in ginger and lime, which feels more Asian than Pilgrim.
You can even consider using leftover turkey to go Mexican (try tacos and a chunky salsa), Vietnamese (how about a bahn mi) or Thai (add turkey cubes to a pad Thai or a coconut curry).
However you decide to give new life to your protein-packed leftovers, here's a tip: Remove the meat from the turkey bones the same day the turkey is roasted. It comes away more easily, it won't dry out (because it's easier to wrap than a whole bird), and it's fast and simple to grab just what you need.
Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the upcoming cookbook "Supermarket Healthy."