Christmas Dinner Leftovers

I’m one of those people, and I suspect we are in the majority, who prefer the Christmas feast leftovers to the meal itself. Don’t get me wrong, I love turkey with all the trimmings, but late on Christmas night, you’ll find me picking at the half eaten bird, making a sandwich with stuffing and cold bread sauce, scarfing cold sprouts and roast parsnips whilst dipping roasties into the gravy boat. That, for me, is the real Christmas treat. Boxing Day breakfast is the best of the year, that killer bubble and squeak with sprouts, stray roast potatoes, bacon and a fried egg. Lunch of cold turkey with crusty, hot baked potatoes, crisp salad and pickles, is almost a Desert Island meal.

By supper on Boxing Night, most people want a rest from anything to do with the festive meal. Plenty of time, though, to pop it back on the menu in a day or so, transformed with other leftovers or food laid in for the siege. The important point is to make its rebirth unrecognisable but not too different to be alarming.  It’s a good idea to get the half-eaten bird out of public view, stripping the meat and breaking up the carcass for the stockpot. The stuffing too, could be offered again sliced like terrine, plated up with onion marmalade, cornichons and griddled toast. Children love it crumbled into pasta with leftover gravy and peas and bigger nuggets or chopped up sausage, with ham and the lion’s share of leftover turkey, can be turned into a fabulous pie.  Adding an unexpected ingredient like apple, and using filo or puff pastry, keeps it light and interesting.

There are countless easy ways of ringing the changes with smoked salmon but one of my favourites is turning trimmings into a gratin with potatoes and spring onion, dill and cream. It is positively elegant after turkey overload.  Stilton will sit happily for weeks if it’s looked after properly but try it in a chicory salad with pear, or crumbled into pasta with walnuts. My top tip is melting it with cream and a splash of milk to spoon, cold, over crisp Cos lettuce hearts, the smaller the better. Stilton leftovers often find their way into quiche but balancing the strong flavour with celeriac, walnuts and sweet quince paste is a revelation.

My sophisticated elder cousin Elizabeth taught me to fry leftover Christmas pudding when I was about eight and there is a TV moment when Jamie Oliver takes the idea a step further, layering it up in a sundae glass with ice cream and cranberry sauce, and a few toasted almonds on the top. It beats Christmas pudding ice cream – crumbled, stirred into softened vanilla ice cream, then frozen again – and definitely an idea to copy.

I always end up with overflowing bowls of mandarins at Christmas and far too much citrus fruit generally. Some of the mandarins are destined for one of my favourite cakes, the whole fruit turned into a pulp to mix with ground almonds and eggs. It’s almost healthy because there’s no butter or flour.

I’ve been known to make sticky toffee pudding with leftover dates but this year I’m going to eat them from the box and get healthily creative with citrus fruit instead.


Smoked salmon layered with very thinly sliced potato, dill and spring onions, and a crisp crumb topping. Soft and creamy, smoked salmon transformed. Yum.

Serves 6

Prep: 30 min

Cook: 60 min

25g butter

125g spring/salad onions

20g bunch dill

200g smoked salmon trimmings

4 large King Edward, Desiree or similar potatoes, approx 900g

400ml crème fraiche or

200ml crème fraiche and 200ml double cream or

400 whipping cream

4 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs

Use half the butter to smear a 2 ½ (half) litre capacity dish, approx 5cm deep. Keeping separate piles, trim and finely slice the spring onions. Strip the dill off the stalks and chop. Slice the salmon into chunky strips. Peel and rinse the potatoes. Slice thinly as if making crisps – a mandoline makes short work of this – but don’t rinse. Spread a third of the potatoes in the buttered dish. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover with half the onion, dill and smoked salmon. Repeat the layer and finish with potato. Heat the cream until pourable then pour it over the pudding. Encourage it to sink through the layers, shaking the dish a couple of times. Settle the surface flat. Cover with a thin layer of breadcrumbs and dot with the last of the butter. Heat the oven to 190C/gas mark 7 and bake for 45-60 minutes until the cream is bubbling round the edge, the crumbs golden and a sharp knife gets no resistance when driven through the potatoes. Serve alone, follow with green beans or a crisp salad.


Crusty, chewy leftover roast parsnips don’t hang around for long, so you might have to make a new batch. Here they’re mixed with slippery char-grilled red pepper from a jar, crunchy almonds, succulent dried apricots and creamy mango, in lime-seasoned cous cous with a dollop of yoghurt. Non-meat eaters will love you.

Serves 6

Prep: 20 min

Cook: 45 min

4 parsnips

knob of butter

1 tbsp oil

2 tbsp runny honey

200g cous cous

½ (half) vegetable or chicken stock cube

300ml boiling water

generous pinch saffron stamens

juice of 2 limes

1 tbsp olive oil

100g char-grilled red pepper

100g ready to eat apricots

2 tbsp toasted Marcona almonds

1 ripe mango

1 lime

few sprigs coriander

300ml thick, natural yoghurt

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp lime juice

Heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Trim and peel the parsnips, cut off the pointy end, split the main part, cut out the woody centre and slice into pieces the same size as the pointy end. Boil in salted water for 2 minutes. Drain. Melt the butter in the oil and smear all over the parsnips in a roasting tin. Smear lavishly with honey. Roast, turning half way through cooking, for 30-45 minutes until crisp and golden. Chop into bite size pieces. Place the cous cous in a mixing bowl. Dissolve the stock cube with the saffron in the boiling water. Add juice of 1 lime and 1 tbsp olive oil. Stir well and stir into the cous cous. Cover the bowl with a stretch of clingfilm. Leave for about 20 minutes to hydrate. Fork up to loosen the grains. Mix with drained, torn red pepper, chopped apricots, almonds and parsnip. Pile onto a platter decorated with a few sprigs coriander. Slice the cheeks off the mango, dice and season with lime juice. Chop remaining coriander finely and mix into the yoghurt, beat in the olive oil and lime juice. Serve the cous cous with yoghurt and mango.


A thick, creamy tuna sauce hides leftover sliced turkey, providing a canvas to decorate with strips of anchovy, sliced green olives and capers. A real show stopper.

Serves 6

Prep: 15 min

400-600g leftover turkey, preferably white meat

50g can anchovies in olive oil

200g, approx, can tuna in oil

175ml Hellmanns mayonnaise

2 tsp Grey Poupon or Maille Dijon mustard

1 tbsp lemon juice

1-2 tbsp water

6 pitted green olives

2 tbsp capers

Slice the turkey and spread out in overlapping slices on a platter. Take 3 anchovies from the tin and 1 tbsp of its oil. Place in the bowl of a food processor with the drained tuna, mayo, mustard, lemon juice and water. Blitz smooth. Add extra lemon juice to taste and/or water to achieve a pouring consistency similar to custard. Spoon and spread the sauce over the turkey to completely cover. Slice the remaining anchovy in long, thin strips, finely slice down the olives into 6-8 thin half moons. Give the capers a squeeze to get rid of excess liquid. Decorate the tuna ‘canvas’ with swirls of anchovy, olives and capers.


If there is one of those handy packs of ready cooked Puy lentils (Merchant Gourmet) stashed away in the food cupboard, this is the time to whip it out. The aromatic, fruity flavours with turkey and lentils are at their best warm rather than chilled but it could be a hot dish with rice, nan and mango chutney.

Serves 4-6

Prep: 15 min

Cook: 30 min

2 large onions

2 tbsp vegetable oil

9 cardamom pods

400-600g leftover dark turkey meat

250g cooked Puy lentils

2 large navel oranges

1 lemon

100g pomegranate seeds

Halve, peel and finely chop the onion. Heat the oil in a spacious sauté pan, stir in the onions and cook steadily, stirring often, until soft and golden, allowing at least 20 minutes. While the onions cook, crack the cardamom pods, extract the seeds and pound to powder. Tear the turkey into large bite-size pieces. Stir the cardamom into the softened onion and stir-fry for a couple of minutes before adding the turkey. Stir-fry for a few minutes then fold in the lentils. Squeeze juice from the oranges and lemon over the top and stir fry to heat through and send the juices through the food. Fold in the pomegranate, serve immediately or reheat later.


The ultimate leftovers clear-up: turkey, ham, stuffing and sausages, all held in a creamy sauce with a hint of lemon and Dijon mustard, with wildcard ingredient apple, giving a fresh, clean crunch. Serve hot with roast potatoes or mash, or cold with salad. Chose between filo or puff pastry; either pie can be kept on hold, covered with clingfilm, chilled.

Serves 6

Prep: 45 min

Cook: 50 min

2 onions

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp thyme, ½ (half) tsp dried

knob of butter

1 trimmed leek

1 heaped tbsp flour

1 tbsp Grey Poupon or Maille Dijon mustard

100ml dry white wine

200ml stock or leftover gravy

600g leftover turkey

4 large slices ham, approx 150g

2 dessert apples

1 lemon

approx 200g leftover stuffing or sausages

200g filo pastry and

100g melted butter or

300g all-butter puff pastry and

knob of butter,

flour for dusting and

1 whisked egg

Halve, peel and finely chop the onion. Soften in the oil, stirring regularly to colour evenly. Add thyme, butter and leeks, sliced into 1cm rings. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook, stirring a couple of times, for about 8 minutes until the leek is soft. Sift the flour over the top, stirring until disappeared. Stir in the mustard followed by wine and stock, stirring briskly. Simmer for a couple of minutes to make a thick, creamy sauce. Tip into a mixing bowl. Add turkey and ham torn into bite-size pieces. Quarter, peel, core and chunk the apple, toss with lemon. Add apple and juices to the mixing bowl. Chop stuffing and or sausage and add to the bowl. Chop the parsley and add that too. Season with salt and pepper, mix thoroughly and leave to cool. Heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. If using filo pastry, butter a 2 ½ (half) litre capacity 5cm deep gratin dish. Keeping the pastry covered with a damp towel to avoid drying out, use half the pastry to make layers in the dish, spreading each layer with melted butter and leaving a generous overhang. Add the filling and smooth the surface. Fold the overhang in towards the middle and continue making layers of filo as before, tucking to secure, finishing with a generous smear of butter. Use a sharp knife to cut portion-sized squares or diamonds, going through a couple of layers of filo. Bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes until crisp and golden. If using puff, heat the oven temp to 22C/gas mark 7. Dust a work surface with flour and roll to make a thick lid. Smear the surface with beaten egg and rest a carving knife lightly across the top making a small lattice. Make a few steam holes. Bake for 20-35 minutes until puffed and golden.


So easy, it hardly needs a recipe. It looks pretty on a platter and goes with everything so perfect for the buffet. Another recipe Stilton-haters will love.

Serves 6

Prep: 15 min

Cook: 5 min

150g Stilton

4 tbsp crème fraiche or double cream

2 tbsp milk

6 Little Gem lettuce, the smaller the better

Break the cheese into pieces into a small saucepan. Add the cream and milk and gently cook together over a low heat, stirring occasionally until melted. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. It will thicken. Wash the whole lettuce hearts and shake dry. Trim the stalk and remove damaged outer leaves. Halve small lettuce hearts lengthways and quarter larger ones, ensuring to cut through the stalk-cum-core so most of the leaves stay attached. Arrange, cut-side uppermost, on a serving platter, nudging the pieces close together. Pour over the cooled sauce, making sure it dribbles through the layers.


People who don’t like Stilton wolf down this quiche-style tart packed with celeriac, walnuts and scraps of quince paste. It is rich and satisfying and good hot or cold but probably best lukewarm. Instead of celeriac, use peeled, diced raw pears, quickly tossed with lemon juice.

Serves 6-8

Prep: 30 min

Cook: 45 min

250g short crust pastry

1 tbsp butter

400g celeriac

1 tbsp vegetable oil

3 eggs

300ml double cream or half and half

200g Stilton cheese

50g quince paste/membrillo

12 walnuts or approx 40g walnut pieces

Heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Roll the pastry to fit a 23cm flan tin, pressing down gently into the base edges, leaving a 2cm overhang. Place on a baking sheet and loosely cover with foil. Cover the base with baking beans or rice and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for 10 minutes until biscuit coloured. Peel the celeriac, cut into bite-size chunks and boil until just tender. Drain and fry for 5 minutes in hot oil to get some crusty edges. Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl, stir in the cream and a pinch of salt. Cut the Stilton into kebab-size chunks. Cut the membrillo into Dolly Mixture size pieces. Break up the walnuts. Pile the celeriac into the tart case, cover with Stilton and scatter the membrillo and walnuts over the top. Add the eggs, not worrying if some food pokes through. Turn the oven to 190C/gas mark 5. Bake for 35-45 minutes until puffy and golden, with a slight wobble in the middle. Remove from the oven, slice off the pastry overhang and remove the collar before serving hot, warm or cold.


Citrus fruit keeps well but here’s an intriguing way of using some of it. The ratio of oranges to other citrus fruit depends what you have available but the idea is to arrive at a pretty contrast of size, colour and taste. This is also good made with pineapple – quarter it lengthways, cut off the woody core, skin and all the hairy ‘eyes’ and slice very thinly across the width – either on its own, or with oranges, say, or a mix of citrus. Pineapple creates lots of liquid as it steeps, so bear that in mind. Save leftover juices for vodka cocktails.

Serves 6-8

Prep: 45 min

Cook: 15 min

1 birds eye red chilli

4 kaffir lime leaves (fresh, frozen or Bart’s Spices)

2 lemon grass stalks

100g white sugar

400ml water

5 large navel oranges

2 large lemons

3 limes

3 red grapefruit

1 pomelo

Split the chilli, scrape out the seeds, slice into skinny batons and then in tiny dice. Bruise the lemongrass. Place both in a pan with the lime leaves, sugar and 400ml cold water. Swirl the pan to melt the sugar as it comes to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Leave to cool. Slice the skin off the citrus fruit, removing all white pith. Rotate each piece of fruit as you slice between the membrane to remove the skinless segments. Split any fat segments; you are after thin and dainty. Transfer to a glass serving bowl with all the juices. Discard the lemongrass and lime leaves then pour the cooled syrup over the fruit salad. Mix, cover with clingfilm and chill before serving.


The best ever destiny for mandarin-overload. Moist, light, subtle and elegant, it is the perfect dessert cake. Serve on its own with a dollop of crème fraiche, or with stewed fruit or fruit salad. Also good with coffee and perfect for tea.

Serves 10-12

Prep: 2 hours, 20 min actual work

Cook: 40 min plus cooling

7 mandarin oranges

6 eggs

250g caster sugar

250g ground almonds

1 tsp baking powder

knob of butter

flour for dusting     

Wash and simmer the whole, unpeeled mandarins in just sufficient water to cover, in a lidded pan for 2 hours. When cool enough to handle, quarter the fruit and remove any pips. Tip fruit and juices into the bowl of a food processor and blitz to a puree. This could be done 24 hours in advance. Heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 5. Using a hand held electric whisk or processor with a whisk attachment, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and fluffy. Stir in the almonds, baking powder and mandarin puree to make a stiff batter. Lavishly smear a 23cm spring form cake tin or one with a removable base with butter. Dust with flour, shaking out excess. Line the base with a circle of baking parchment. Smear it with butter. Stand on a baking sheet and pour in the mixture. Bake for 35-45 minutes, checking after 30, until the cake is risen and just firm, the top lightly coloured. Cool in the tin before turning out, reversing the cake so the bottom becomes the top. The base will be pale, smooth and golden. Dust with icing sugar and serve.