Turn Thanksgiving leftovers into gourmet sandwiches, pancakes and more

You've feasted on turkey on stuffed yourself with stuffing — but there's still a ton of food left over from Turkey Day.

Instead of just reheating the same old dinner plate and tucking in, why not try a unique spin on the old usual leftover sandwich recipe?

Chef, cookbook author and restaurateur Donatella Arpaia is turning Thanksgiving leftovers into delicious new dishes. She stops by "TODAY Show Confidential" on Sirius XMto show TODAY Show executive producer Don Nash and co-executive producer Tom Mazzarelli (aka Don and Mazz) how to make wild rice and sausage stuffing and eye-catching multicolored roast carrots.

Tom Mazzarelli, Donatella Arpaia, and Don NashZach Pagano / TODAY

She also transforms mashed potatoes into savory pancakes and creates a cheesy grilled Panini sandwich with all of your favorite holiday trimmings. These holiday leftovers might even be better than the original meal!

Zach Pagano/TODAY

Servings: 1

Turn leftover turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce into a delicious grilled cheese sandwich.

Technique tip: Make sure bread is thick enough to handle the hearty contents but not so thick that you can't eat it!

Ingredients

    • 3 tablespoons jellied cranberry sauce
    • 1½ teaspoons of grainy mustard
    • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
    • 1/3 cup shredded leftover roast turkey, light and dark meat
    • 2-3 tablespoons leftover gravy
    • Extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 slices sourdough sandwich bread
    • 1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese
    • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature, divided

Preparation

1. In a small bowl, mix the cranberry sauce with the grainy mustard and set aside.

2. In a sauté pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium flame. Add the onion and cook until it beings to brown then add in shredded turkey and gravy with a touch of salt and pepper and stir. Let cool to room temperature, the mixture should be wet but not soupy.

3. Spread cranberry mustard mixture on both slices of bread, then layer with grated cheese on each piece.

4. On one slice, arrange the turkey mixture on top.

5. Carefully unite the two halves into one sandwich, then spread the top side of the bread with 1 tablespoon of the butter.

6. Invert the sandwich, butter-side down, onto a hot grill pan over medium-low heat. Spread the top with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter.

7. Grill until the bread is crusty and golden, flip the sandwich halfway through to grill on the other side. The sandwich is ready when the fillings are hot, and the cheese is melted.

Turn leftover turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce into a delicious gooey grilled cheese sandwich.

Zach Pagano/TODAY

Take yesterday's mashed potatoes from boring to brilliant by turning them into cheesy, crispy potato pancakes. Use these to make sandwiches, serve them up as another savory side or a wonderful snack all on their own.

Ingredients

    • TK heaping cups mashed potatoes
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • Salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
    • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella
    • Oil, for frying
    • Milk, as needed
    • Sour cream (optional)

Preparation

1. In a bowl, mix all ingredients very well. If it is too dry adjust the consistency with a little milk.

2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a couple of tablespoons of oil.

3. Pour 1/4 cup batter into hot pan; brown on both sides.

4. Garnish with a bit of parsley and top with sour cream, if using.

Take yesterday's mashed potatoes from boring to brilliant by turning them into cheesy, crispy potato pancakes.

Zach Pagano/TODAY

The brilliant colors of these sweetly spiced and roasted carrots make this a delicious standout side dish.

Ingredients

    • 2½ pounds multi colored carrots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
    • 2 tablespoons melted butter
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar
    • 2 pinches ground cardamom
    • 1 pinch ground cloves

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the carrots with the butter, oil, sugar and spices. Spread the vegetables in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Roast the carrots about 35 minutes, or until tender.

The brilliant colors of these sweetly-spiced roasted carrots make them a total standout side dish.

Zach Pagano/TODAY

Change up your usual stuffing routine with this rice-based recipe. Nutty wild rice and fluffy Arborio rice add great flavor and texture to this savory sausage and mushroom-studded side. It's so good, you might want to gobble it up as a main dish the next day! 

Technique tip: This recipe can be prepped up to step 6 one day ahead. Just cover and refrigerate and return to room temperature before baking.

Ingredients

    • 1½ cups wild rice
    • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
    • Low-sodium chicken stock
    • 1 ½ pounds sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
    • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
    • 1 large onion, diced
    • 4 stalks celery, diced
    • 4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 1 cup mixed mushrooms, coarsely chopped
    • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
    • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
    • 1 bay leaf
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • Nonstick cooking spray

Preparation

1. Cook the wild rice in chicken stock according to package directions. Set aside.

2. Cook Arborio rice in chicken stock according to package directions. Set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 400°F.

4. In a large, nonstick skillet, brown the sausage over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool slightly, and then coarsely chop.

5. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in the skillet. Add the onions, celery and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until translucent. Remove from skillet and set aside in a large bowl.

6. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the skillet. Add the mushrooms and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper then add mushrooms to the onion mixture.

7. In the bowl with the onion and mushroom mixture stir in both rices and sausage and season again with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley, eggs and bay leaf and mix well.

8. Coat a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Pour the stuffing into the prepared dish, cover and bake for 20 minutes.

Got some leftover sausage and still craving stuffing? Change up your usual stuffy stuffing routine with this rice-based recipe. Nutty wild rice and fluffy Arborio rice add great flavor and texture to this savory dish.

To catch the full episode of this holiday edition of "TODAY Show Confidential," tune in Thursday, Nov. 23 at 1 p.m. ET on Sirius XM TODAY Show Radio Channel 108.

"TODAY Show Confidential" airs Thursdays at 1 p.m.

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