The Washington Post

Healthful Thanksgiving leftovers: Turkey Tetrazzini With Butternut Squash Sauce

Turkey Tetrazzini With Butternut Squash Sauce. (Deb Lindsey/For the Washington Post)

Come Thanksgiving, many of us celebrate with freshly prepared dishes around the dinner table. And, in typical Thanksgiving fashion, we make way too much food to be consumed in one meal (or even one day).

One of the wonderful things about Thanksgiving is that you can extend the festivities by getting creative with leftovers in the days following the big feast.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage us to enjoy our food but avoid oversize portions. And many people eat and drink more when served more — so pay attention to the size of your initial serving of mashed potatoes, stuffing and other Thanksgiving favorites. Remember, you can save some for later (especially if you are saving room for a slice of pumpkin pie), and nothing has to go to waste. In fact, the food that you worked so hard to prepare will taste better when you are hungry again.

Turkey is no exception. Although turkey breast meat is a healthful source of protein when you remove the skin and keep the gravy on the side, portion size is still key. When filling up your plate, keep in mind the Agriculture Department’s recommendation is 5-61 / 2 ounces of meat or other protein source per day for adults who aren’t getting the recommended 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day (that’s more than half of us). So, if you want to put more turkey on your plate, then strive to be more active.

Either way, you will probably end up with leftovers. As you look for ways to use them up, remember that there’s more out there than that boring turkey sandwich. Try this rich and creamy casserole that has been given a guilt-free makeover. It features leftover turkey and butternut squash. Select white meat over dark if you are looking to cut back on calories and saturated fat. (Dark meat is higher in fat, but it provides important nutrients such as iron, zinc and several B vitamins.)

Traditional turkey tetrazzini is loaded with butter, cheese, heavy cream, refined flour and bread crumbs. This recipe skips those ingredients and focuses on the white-meat turkey and loads of vegetables including mushrooms, peas, onions and butternut squash.

The squash is especially important, providing a creamy, thick sauce that one expects with turkey tetrazzini. Butternut squash has the word “butter” in it for a reason! Though decadent, it also packs a lot of nutrients including fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamins A and C.

Recipe: Turkey Tetrazzini With Butternut Squash Sauce

Still have more turkey than you know what to do with? Try these other healthful options, found at

Apple Cider Glazed Turkey Kebabs

Black Bean, Turkey and Andouille Chowder

Fresh Fall Rolls With Cranberry Dipping Sauce

Honey-Tarragon Turkey and Grape Salad

Roast Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

Turkey Soup With Ginger, Lemon and Mint

Wild Rice and Turkey Salad With Dried Cranberries

Gordon, a master of public health professional and a master certified health education specialist, is creator of the healthful recipe site Find her on Twitter at @EatingbyElaine.

Gordon, a master of public health professional and a master certified health education specialist, is creator of the healthful recipe site



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
From clubfoot to climbing: Double amputee lives life of adventure
Learn to make traditional soup dumplings
In defense of dads
Play Videos
How to make head cheese
Perks of private flying
The rise and fall of baseball cards
Play Videos
Husband finds love, loss in baseball
New hurdles for a Maryland tradition
How to survive a shark attack
Play Videos
Portland's most important meal of the day
What you need to know about Legionnaires' disease
How to save and spend money at college

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.