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I see leftovers as a cooking challenge: Taking a disparate bunch of food and creating a completely new and delicious dish for another meal. Lots of people throw them out, but all it takes is a bit of creativity to turn them into an easy meal worth savouring.

Christmas dinner usually provides a refrigerator full of leftovers as we try to satisfy everyone at the table. Opening the fridge door to see all that food stacked up is my idea of a good time. Here are my tips.

Leftover salads, such as leafy greens, tomato or any kind of bean of grain (but not pasta), actually make great soups with the addition of some stock and maybe a spoonful of cream and herbs. Puree.

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What tools do you really need in the kitchen – and which can you do without?

Leftover turkey, coarsely ground in a food processor with curry powder, celery, red onion and maybe some chopped cucumber, tastes like heaven wrapped in naan bread. Alternatively, dip it in egg and panko crumbs and fry it in a little oil for a crisp patty to serve with rice.

Another great dish is turkey hash. Chop up the turkey, any leftover roasted potatoes, some chopped red onion and sauté together until the turkey mixture is hot. Add a dash of sriracha, chopped up green beans, Brussels sprouts, or any leftover vegetables. Serve topped with a fried egg.

Turkey latkes are another option. Combine shredded turkey with grated raw potato and salt and pepper and fry in oil on both sides until crisp. Serve with leftover cranberry sauce.

And there is turkey pot pie. Just make sure the sauce is thick enough, so it does not thin out when baked. Use ¼ cup butter and ¼ cup flour to 3 cups stock and reduce slightly to get the right thickness. For the top crust, use frozen all-butter puff pastry, defrosted (I like the one from President’s Choice).

Had roast beef for your dinner instead? Thinly slice the meat and make a perfect Thai beef salad for dinner the next night. Make a dressing with fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, and some heat if you like it. Mix the beef with romaine or Boston lettuce or escarole, green onions, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and lots of herbs like cilantro and mint.

Need some advice about kitchen life and entertaining? Send your questions to lwaverman@globeandmail.com.

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