It began with a fresh, 20-pound turkey with all the trimmings for Thanksgiving, and ended yesterday--a holiday whirlwind of brunches, lunches and dinner parties. Figuring prominently in the feasting has been that seasonal staple, the turkey--an otherwise popular bird that begins to wear out its welcome right about now. Fortunately, it freezes well.

Of the many turkey-based dishes I've concocted after the fact, my favorite is Turkey Tetrazzini, an aria of shredded meat with toasted almonds and saute'ed mushrooms warmed in a cream sauce, and served over linguini.

The original Chicken Tetrazzini dish upon which this recipe is based was created in honor of Luisa Tetrazzini, the Italian coloratura soprano who achieved great international fame during the first two decades of this century.

It's a fitting tribute to someone who clearly inspired greatness. According to her obituary in the April 29, 1940, New York Times, "Mme. Tetrazzini recalled in her memoirs, 'My Life of Song,' how she became enraptured at the warm welcome she received from the American public. Many will remember the tumultuous bravos that thundered through the old Manhattan Opera House when she bent down gracefully to pick up a carnation, all the while holding the high C." TURKEY TETRAZZINI (4 servings) 5 tablespoons butter plus enough for casserole 2 tablespoons flour 1 1/2 cups of chicken (or turkey) stock Hot pepper sauce to taste Salt and pepper (optional) 1 tablespoon sherry 2 tablespoons heavy cream 1/4 cup sliced, toasted almonds 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced and saute'ed 2 1/2 cups shredded (defrosted) cooked turkey 1/2 pound linguini 1/4 pound parmesan cheese 1 tablespoon butter

In a large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Stirring briskly, add the flour. Stir this mixture for several minutes without letting it brown; then stir in the stock and a couple of squirts of hot pepper sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat to low and let cook while saute'eing the mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of butter.

Cook the linguini according to the instructions on the package or, if fresh, for 3 minutes.

Add the sherry, cream, almonds, mushrooms and turkey to the sauce, and continue to cook--do not boil--until the turkey is heated.

Drain the linguini and place it in a buttered casserole. Pour the sauce (including the turkey) over the linguini, sprinkle with parmesan and dot with 1 tablespoon butter. Bake the casserole at 375 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, until sauce is bubbling and top has browned. Serve immediately.