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Posted on Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 8 a.m.

Asian-Style Lettuce Wraps - a fresh idea for Thanksgiving leftovers

By Mary Bilyeu


Mary Bilyeu, Contributor

The Thanksgiving feast is great! I, of course, am never averse to eating well, and people always bring out their specialties at the holidays.

But really, as far as I'm concerned, the turkey and the trimmings all pale in comparison to the very best part of the meal: the leftovers. Because I'll be spending the holiday out-of-town with loved ones, I'll actually be preparing a turkey of my own on Friday, precisely so that I can have a carcass to turn into soup and meat with which to prepare future meals.

Every year, people seek recipes — something new and novel — to help plow through the excess food that's still staring back at them after the extravaganza.

But not me.

A turkey sandwich on white bread (a variety I'm normally averse to, but it's essential here) with a schmear of mayonnaise... that, my friends, is two steps away from Nirvana. The last stop before Nirvana is being a lazy, spoiled housecat who sleeps in the sun; my annual turkey sandwich fest falls just short of that luxury.

Of course, given that I always want to try new foods and have new adventures, it's a bit odd that this is where my sense of tradition lies: not in gathering my family around a Norman Rockwell-esque table laden with bounty, but rather sitting in my jammies on Friday morning while everyone else is out shopping, eating a plain ol' turkey sandwich. Scoop out a serving of cold stuffing and cranberry sauce to fill up the plate, and I'm a very happy girl.

I know that I'm an anomaly in this regard; the rest of you want something other than casseroles and soup to throw those leftovers into. But after cooking for days to prepare the feast — baking those pies, artfully arranging marshmallows over the yams, basting that bird — you don't want to work too hard at using up the leftovers, either.

So here's my offering to you: Asian Lettuce Wraps. Yeah, there's a bit of chopping; but since you can actually put some of those itty-bitty scraps of turkey to use — the ones that would fall out of a sandwich — it's still okay. Chop, stir, eat! And there are lots of vegetables, to help assuage some of the guilt from the holiday's overindulgence.

You enjoy these on Friday while I'm making another sandwich ....

Asian-Style Lettuce Wraps

1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Asian chili-garlic sauce
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups finely chopped turkey
1 large carrot, shredded
1 head baby bok choy, chopped
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup fried onions (the kind you use for green bean casserole)
1 scallion, finely chopped
2 heads loose leaf lettuce, leaves separated

5 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup coconut milk
pinch of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon Asian chili-garlic sauce
spritz of lime juice

In a large skillet, heat oil, vinegar and chili-garlic sauce over medium-low heat; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed and the onion has softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the turkey and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the carrot and bok choy; cook for 1 minute. Combine the teriyaki sauce, water and cornstarch; pour into the skillet and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes until sauce is thickened; remove from heat. Stir in fried onions and scallions.

Place turkey mixture onto a serving dish, accompanied by the lettuce leaves.

Stir together the sauce ingredients, and serve alongside the turkey.

Take a lettuce leaf and tear it into pieces approximately 3x3 inches. Scoop up some of the turkey mixture with the lettuce, then dip into the sauce. Enjoy!

I'm hosting a great giveaway on my blog, Food Floozie, starting today: you could win a $25 gift certificate to Hodgson Mill's online store. Go check it out as they say, you can't win if you don't play!

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Mary Bilyeu has won or placed in more than 60 cooking contests and writes about her adventures in the kitchen. She was thrilled to have her post about Scottish Oatmeal Shortbread named as one of the daily "Best of the Blogs" by the prestigious Food News Journal.

Go visit Mary's blog — Food Floozie — on which she enthuses and effuses over all things food-related. Her newest feature is Frugal Floozie Friday, seeking fun and food for $5 or less ... really! Feel free to email her with questions or comments or suggestions:

The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured in this post) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15 and is a wish for all her readers as they cook along with her ... may you always be happy here.


Peggy Lampman

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 1:45 a.m.

Now this, truly, is the best use of leftover turkey I've seen to date. (Including my posts!) Thanks Mary, for a really unique way of using turkey day leftovers. Happy happy! Peggy

Mary Bilyeu

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 5:18 p.m.

You're a sweetheart, Peggy - thank you! That's a high honor coming from someone whose culinary talents I respect so greatly!!! Have a lovely holiday ... :)