Layer Your Leftovers Into a Lasagna
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Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann
The concoctions I’ve assembled over these post-Thanksgiving days has given me a lot of insight. Specifically, the idea that certain foods “go together” and other combinations don’t, is really just a load of crap. I’ve eaten a few combinations this year that I would have politely declined in the past, only to find myself scarfing the entire thing (and growling at anyone who tried to take some). I had this culinary revelation while eating a Thanksgiving leftovers-lasagna—and you should too.
My mysterious mind has rustled up numerous ways to re-work leftovers, like French-toasting your stuffing or making buffalo turkey pizza, but reading this article had me considering the pros and cons of cramming all of your leftovers into one bulky, strange lasagna. My concern was that every forkful would become an unpleasant putty of flavors, each one competing for the attention of my taste buds, and zero of them shining through—like mixing all of your colors together and getting gray. I’m delighted to report that I was worried for no reason. Every bite of the first slice answered the question, “It couldn’t be good… could it?” It was good! So good, I proceeded to have two more slices.
Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann
Normally I’d like to give you tips on the best way to make a leftovers-lasagna, but, besides adding a little sauce to the bottom so the noodles don’t stick, I don’t think there’s a wrong way. The big thing I learned is that anything goes. Potatoes, stuffing, turkey, asparagus, sweet potatoes (marshmallows remain untested), and mac and cheese all work well together. Depending on how many leftovers you have, you can find a way to cram it all in, or bulk up small amounts of leftovers with a ricotta mixture and extra cheese. The assembly is up to you. Spread stuffing on the bottom, drop Brussels and corn in the middle, and add sweet potatoes on top. Or switch it around. The layers will look lovely, and when you put a fork through it, you’ll be eating all of those flavors at once regardless of their arrangement. Miraculously, you’ll be able to taste them all, and they “go” together.
I did have one internal dispute while building the lasagna. Brown gravy or Italian gravy? Brown turkey gravy would have been a boss move, but I only had a jar of red sauce. I was a little dismayed, thinking the tomato sauce would overpower everything, but again, it was somehow perfect. Just a small amount of tomato sauce provided the perfect amount of acidity to balance out the sweet, savory, salty, and umami swirling around my palate. Regardless of what kind of sauce you use, which layer the mac and cheese is on, or even when it’s regular, non-Thanksgiving leftovers, layering yesterday’s food into a lasagna tastes fantastic, and it’s a great way to clean out your fridge.
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