When you've had your fill of turkey sandwiches and turkey soup, but there are still leftovers waiting to be eaten in the fridge, choose greatness. And by greatness we mean a towering lasagna filled with layers of roasted Brussel sprouts, creamy sweet potatoes, Thanksgiving stuffing, and of course, the turkey. One might even argue that this next-day meal is even better than the main event itself.
Lasagna is The Greatest Way To Eat Thanksgiving Leftovers
How's that for a proclamation? But hear us out. Over time, the traditional Thanksgiving menu has evolved to include dishes that go well together. Or perhaps our palates have evolved to enjoy the food that's traditionally served together. It's your typical chicken or the egg scenario.
But even if you're the type of person who doesn't like their food touching on the plate, Thanksgiving is the exception. Cranberry sauce with that turkey? Oh, yes. A bite of mashed potatoes with a bit of green casserole? Yes, please.
Come Friday, we're trying to figure out a way to relive the glory of that meal all over again — just without the effort. With that in mind, we present this Thanksgiving leftover lasagna. Consider it an invitation to let your leftovers get a little handsy all in one dish.
How to Fill Your Lasagna with Leftovers
This lasagna relies on Thanksgiving leftovers, but has flexibility on everything except the gravy and ricotta mixture. Here are some suggested filling substitutes for those included in the recipe below.
- Cranberry sauce: No sauce? No problem — just skip it in the ricotta mixture.
- Turkey: I've filled this lasagna with both the bacon-wrapped turkey and the upside-down turkey. You can substitute all or part of the turkey called for here with cooked ham. Cooked bulk sausage also plays well with these other leftovers.
- Potatoes: All potatoes are welcome here. Sweet potatoes certainly lend a lot of color and flavor, but mashed potatoes and mashed cauliflower work well here too. If Thanksgiving left you without potato leftovers, you can roast whole sweet potatoes or cubed butternut squash and use those in their place.
- Brussels sprouts: Shredded brussels sprouts are included here to keep you from slicing and dicing any more after the big cooking holiday, but feel free to skip them or substitute a leafy green like baby spinach or arugula instead.
- Dressing or stuffing: My family almost always has leftover dressing, as my mother-in-law insists on making two giant trays of her cornbread and giblet dressing. If you don't have extras, cubed bread tossed with a few tablespoons of melted butter and some fresh herbs makes an excellent topping for this lasagna.
Use No-Boil Noodles for Leftover Lasagna
By replacing the classic noodles with no-boil noodles (sometimes labeled as oven-ready noodles), you can skip the boiling step required for traditional lasagna. Besides cooking up faster with less up-front work, the no-boil noodles also make lasagna make-ahead friendly. The noodles aren't cooked before storing or freezing, so they are less likely to get soggy while they wait to be baked.
What's the Deal with No-Boil Lasagna Noodles ?
No-boil lasagna noodles are dried sheets of pasta noodles that are rolled thinner than traditional dried lasagna noodles. These sheets are precooked and dried at the factory, making them faster-cooking in the oven.
While they were once considered as mere convenience food, many home cooks have made them a staple, as they not only cook faster and absorb moisture (and therefore flavor) when baked, but are also harder to overcook.
Leftover Lasagna Needs Gravy
A successful leftover lasagna relies on two things: no-boil lasagna noodles, and the right amount of moisture. Because most of the lasagna components are already cooked, they won't have a ton of moisture to release as the lasagna bakes. In place of a red sauce or a béchamel, we'll rely on gravy. The gravy provides moisture, but also a decent amount of starch to act as a glue between the leftovers and the lasagna noodles.
Out of gravy? Make a quick batch: How To Make Gravy Without Turkey Drippings
Freezing Leftover Lasagna
Stashing this leftover lasagna away in the freezer to eat in the future is a great option for when you really just cannot eat any more turkey. Consider building this lasagna in an aluminum baking pan to avoid freezing your favorite casserole dish. A thin foil will also ensure the lasagna freezes faster. Wrap it in plastic wrap, label, and date before freezing. Thaw this lasagna in the fridge overnight before baking.
How To Make Leftover Thanksgiving Lasagna
What You Need
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
1 large egg
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme or sage
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups turkey gravy, divided
3 cups leftover sweet potato casserole or mashed potatoes, divided
1 1/2 cups shredded, cooked Brussels sprouts, divided
3 cups cooked, shredded turkey, divided
2 cups dressing or stuffing
9x13-inch baking dish
Measuring cups and spoons
- Prepare the baking dish. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375°F. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish (glass or ceramic) with cooking spray; set aside.
- Make the cranberry-ricotta sauce. Place the ricotta, cranberry sauce, egg, salt, and herbs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth.
- Layer the lasagna. Spread 1/2 cup of the gravy in a thin layer on the bottom of the baking dish. Top evenly with 1/3 of the noodles, 1/2 of the potatoes, 1/2 of the Brussels sprouts, 1/2 of the turkey, and 1/3 of the ricotta mixture. Repeat layering with 1/3 of the noodles, 1/2 cup of the gravy, the remaining potatoes, remaining Brussels sprouts, remaining turkey, and 1/3 of the ricotta mixture. Finish with the remaining noodles.
- Top. Top the final layer of noodles with the remaining gravy. Spread the remaining ricotta in a thin, even layer over the gravy. Top with the dressing or stuffing in a even layer.
- Bake. Bake until the noodles are tender, the top is golden-brown, and the gravy is bubbling, about 40 minutes.
Cool. Cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.