The leftover season Entertaining: Turkey and spinach go into delectable grilled sandwiches.


I don't know which I enjoy most - the glorious Thanksgiving turkey, dressing and trimmings that our family feasts upon, or the delectable dishes made with the leftovers the following days.

Warm turkey sandwiches napped with rich, dark gravy, turkey salad with grapes and walnuts tossed with curried mayonnaise, wraps stuffed with turkey and cranberry chutney, and turkey potpies are among my favorite post-holiday dishes.

This year, I have an idea for a dish to make after Thursday's big meal. I'm planning to serve quesadillas filled with sauteed spinach, brie cheese, thin apple slices, leftover turkey and chopped walnuts. I've made these hot grilled tortillas several times recently with store-bought turkey and know they will be even better with meat from our Thanksgiving bird.

On several occasions, I've added chutney to the sandwiches, so I've decided to use any extra cranberry relish in them as well. I used fresh spinach, but you could substitute frozen if you are rushed.

The quesadillas can be assembled a half-hour ahead of time and then heated in a stove-top grill pan or sauteed in a skillet for a few minutes. For a light supper or luncheon after Thanksgiving, they would be delicious served with soup or salad and a dessert of fresh fruit.

Quesadillas With Turkey, Brie, Spinach and Apples

Serves 6

1 tablespoon oil plus extra for cooking quesadillas

1 pound fresh spinach, cleaned, dried and stemmed (see note)

3/4 teaspoon salt plus more if needed

3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest (colored portion of rind)

6 (8-inch) flour tortillas

8-ounce wedge of well-chilled brie cheese, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

6 to 8 ounces cooked turkey meat, thinly sliced

1 large tart apple, unpeeled, quartered and cored, then thinly sliced

1/2 cup mango chutney or cranberry relish, optional

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large, heavy skillet over medium heat. When hot, add spinach and saute, stirring constantly, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in salt and lemon zest. Taste and add more salt, if desired.

Place large, heavy skillet or stove-top grill over medium heat and place single tortilla in it for a few seconds just to soften. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Arrange tortillas on work surface.

Divide brie evenly and place on half of each tortilla. Divide spinach evenly and spread over cheese. Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons walnuts over spinach layer of each tortilla, then top with several turkey slices and with some apple slices. Spread thin layer of chutney over apples. Fold tortillas, which will be very full, in half.

(Tortillas can be assembled 30 minutes ahead. Place on tray and cover with slightly dampened tea towel and then with plastic wrap and leave at cool room temperature.)

When ready to cook, heat 1 to 2 teaspoons oil in large, heavy skillet or brush stove-top grill pan lightly with oil. Place skillet over medium heat and when hot, add enough quesadillas to fit comfortably in single layer. Cook until lightly browned on bottom, about 2 minutes. Turn and cook until lightly browned on other side and cheese has melted, 1 to 2 minutes more. Repeat, adding more oil as needed, until all quesadillas are cooked. Remove and slice each quesadilla into 2 wedges. Arrange on serving plate and serve hot.

Note: If you wish to substitute frozen spinach, use 1 (10-ounce) package chopped spinach. Defrost, squeeze dry in kitchen towel and then saute as directed in recipe.

Pub Date: 11/22/98

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