What to CookCooking with Scraps

Save These "Scraps" as You Prepare Your Thanksgiving Feast

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In the frenzy to prepare your Thanksgiving feast, there are a number of so-called scraps that might get, well, scrapped, as you churn out dish after dish. Potato peels, celery leaves, and winter squash innards could be swept into the compost bin without thinking—but don't do it!

Take a moment now to plan ahead and figure out what to save: You'll be rewarded with bonus appetizers, a sauce to slather on next-day turkey sandwiches, and so much more.

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Turkey Bits

The main event! You probably knew to save the giblets for gravy, and the carcass for stock, but did you know you can use the head and feet, too?

How to Cook a Whole Turkey, From Head to Toe
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How to Cook a Whole Turkey, From Head to Toe
Barbara Kafka's Basic Fowl Giblet Gravy

Barbara Kafka's Basic Fowl Giblet Gravy by Food52

Canal House Turkey and Potato Soup

Canal House Turkey and Potato Soup by Alexandra Stafford

swiss chard Stalks

Is your dinner menu going to include creamed greens? If so, and if Swiss chard will be in the mix, don't toss the stalks. They can be turned into hummus or pesto, either of which can be added to the appetizer spread as a dip or saved for the days ahead to help turn Thanksgiving leftovers into new meals.

Tara Duggan's Chard Stalk Hummus

Tara Duggan's Chard Stalk Hummus by Genius Recipes

Swiss Chard Stalk Pesto with Pepitas

Swiss Chard Stalk Pesto with Pepitas by QueenSashy

Stale Bread

For Thanksgiving, stale bread is less of a scrap as it is a necessary ingredient for the holiday. So yes, this is basically a thinly-veiled ploy to get this stuffing recipe on your radar if you haven't made it yet.

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Layered Grapes and Bread with Chèvre and Balsamic
Layered Grapes and Bread with Chèvre and Balsamic

apple & potato Peels

Making an apple pie or two? Don't toss the peels, you can use them to flavor tea or bourbon—it's okay to base that choice on how many crazy relatives are coming for the holidays.

All of the potato peels left over from prepping potatoes for mashers can be turned into chips. Try Tara Duggan's recommended method: “Toss potato peels with salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, and a pinch of brown sugar and coat with leftover melted bacon fat. Spread out on a parchment-lined pan and roast at 400° F until bacon-fragrant, 15 to 18 minutes.”

Apple Peel Tea
Apple Peel Tea
Apple Peel Bourbon

Apple Peel Bourbon by Marian Bull

Apple Peel Bourbon Ginger Shake-Up

Apple Peel Bourbon Ginger Shake-Up by Samantha Weiss Hills

Celery Leaves

If you're using celery in your stuffing, keep all of those little leaves from the tender, inner stalks! Then make this sauce and slather it on turkey sandwiches after Thanksgiving.

Creole Remoulade Sauce
Creole Remoulade Sauce

Root Vegetable Greens

If you're roasting any root vegetables for your meal, don't forget to save the greens. They can be turned into a quick bonus side dish—either to put on the table or to nibble on in the kitchen while you cook.

Milk-Braised Beet Greens

Milk-Braised Beet Greens by Jennifer Perillo

Turnip Green Gomae

Turnip Green Gomae by Fairmount_market

Pink Greens

Pink Greens by Marissa Grace

Moroccan Beet Greens

Moroccan Beet Greens by Silly Apron

Winter Squash Innards

All of these recipes say "pumpkin," but go ahead and use the webbing and seeds from any type of winter squash. When you're roasting seeds, just keep timing in mind, as teeny butternut squash seeds will roast faster than pumpkin seeds will.

Pumpkin 'Brain' Chutney
Pumpkin 'Brain' Chutney
Sweet and Salty Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Sweet and Salty Roasted Pumpkin Seeds by Phyllis Grant

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing and Caramelized Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing and Caramelized Pump... by Sarah Jampel

What "scrap" do you find yourself overwhelmed by during Thanksgiving prep? Tell us in the comments and we'll brainstorm ways you can use it!

Tags: cooking with scraps, celery, celery leaves, turkey, giblets, bones, stalks, peels, stale bread, bits and bobs