Turkey and ham pasta bake with Christmas leftovers – an adaptable, easy recipe for a warming ham and turkey pasta bake topped with a crispy and zesty Parmigiano Reggiano crust. A real crowd pleaser to make the most of the Christmas leftovers.
Do you ever feel a little turkeyed out after Christmas? Turkey this, turkey that and even more turkey the other is served to use up all the leftovers? The Annual Turkey Curry Buffet was immortalised in Bridget Jones and certainly is a good way to use up some turkey, as is my turkey and ham pasta bake, which is adaptable, not too heavy and can be made ahead of time, then popped into the oven to cook.
This turkey pasta bake which uses up Christmas leftovers make a perfect informal supper or lunch. Enjoy after a winter walk, trip to the sales or curled up on the sofa under a blanket whilst watching your favourite Christmas movie.
I’ve deliberately tried to keep this pasta bake light by making a Parmesan cheese sauce from a mix of milk and stock. If wanted, you could add some cream and extra cheese for added richness but the recipe really does not need it, and after the excesses of Christmas I want something that’s a little lighter, but still hearty.
The topping is a zingy mix of Parmesan, chopped fresh parsley, lemon zest and my new favourite cheat ingredient, Panko breadcrumbs. These come in a packet and are perfectly ground and deliciously crispy. You could make your own, but but I love the simplicity, texture and guaranteed crunch!
I’ve also added an optional handful of frozen fresh cranberries for some sourness and pop to the flavour. If cooking for some people who don’t like cranberries, simply leave them out, or scatter over only one end of the dish, or make the turkey and ham pasta bake in individual dishes.
If you are planning on serving this turkey and ham pasta bake over Christmas it is easy to stretch it out to feed some extra people, simply make a bit more sauce, cook more pasta and add a handful of frozen peas and corn to keep it interesting.
How to Freeze Leftover Turkey
I pack leftover turkey into those flat plastic takeaway trays, separating each layer with a sheet of greaseproof or baking paper which makes it easy to remove just as much as you need. Separate the meat into slices, then the smaller pieces of both white and brown meat and pack each into a separate box then freeze.
To make things more interesting when cooking this turkey pasta bake make a few individual portions in small ceramic casseroles; they look more attractive, are ideal for a children’s supper, or can be frozen for another day.
Three ways to make turkey stock (bone broth)
I nearly always make stock with poultry carcasses – it would be such a shame to throw them away and lose all that delicious flavour – I’ve been known to go out for Sunday lunch and return home with a chicken carcass for stock in a plastic bag rather than letting the hostess throw it away. If you don’t have the time or energy there and then to make stock then sling the entire carcass in the freezer and deal with it at a later date.
When making stock cover the carcass with water, add a couple of carrots and stick of celery, a few peppercorns and leave it to gently cook. Once done, strain allow to cool, skim the fat off then freeze the stock to use later. Here are three ways of making stock:
- In a slow cooker – My favourite method, it won’t boil dry and can be safely left on overnight, or if you go out for a few hours – start on high for an hour and then reduce to low. If you want to reduce the stock then leave the lid slight ajar for the last hour of cooking.
- In a stock pot – leave to very gently (even barely) simmer for 4-6 hours. Unless you can very carefully regulate your burners it is easy to cook it too fast and to boil the bones.
- In the oven – chuck all the ingredients into a heavy cast iron casserole dish or Dutch oven and cook in a very low oven for 4 hours. I find this the least smelly method but unless you trust your oven you need to keep a eye on it.
I’ve used Parmigiano Reggiano throughout this pasta bake, it is rich and intensely flavoured so a little goes a long way. Because Parmigiano Reggiano is a PDO product its method and location of production are subject to a set of rules and only cheeses made according to the rules can be called Parmigiano Reggiano. By buying Parmigiano Reggiano you know you will get a premium quality cheese with a 900 year old tradition. Rad more about Parmesan here.
For more pasta bake inspiration can we tempt you with some of our pasta bakes?
Turkey & ham pasta bake with lemon & herb Parmigiano Reggiano crust
- 200 g pasta shapes ((use what you have))
- 25 g butter
- 200 g cooked turkey ((chopped to bite sized pieces))
- 150 g sliced ham ((chopped to bite sized pieces))
- 1/2 cup fresh cranberries ((optional))
For the sauce
- 25 g butter
- 25 g plain flour
- 200 ml milk
- 200 ml chicken stock
- 40 g Parmesan ((finely grated))
For the topping
- 3 tbs Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 Lemon - zest ((finely grated))
- 2 tbs parsley ((chopped))
- 25 g Parmesan ((finely grated))
- Cook the pasta to al dente as per the packet instructions, but taking a minute or two off the cooking time.
Drain and reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water.
- Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the turkey and ham until starting to brown.
For the sauce
- In a medium saucepan melt the butter, stir in the flour and cook over a gentle heat for a few minutes.
- Slowly add stock and milk a little at a time, stirring all the time to stop lumps forming taking care to scrape the bottom of the pan.
- Add the Parmesan and season to taste.
Assemble the bake
- Add the pasta into the frying pan with the turkey and ham. Pour the sauce over, add the cranberries if using.
- Add some of the reserved pasta cooking water if needed to loose. you want a coating sauce about the consistency of double cream.
- Transfer to an ovenproof gratin of casserole dish.
- Mix the ingredients for the topping together and sprinkle over.
- Bake at 160C fan / Gas 4 for 15-20 minutes* until golden and piping hot though out.
- * Bake for another 10 minutes if cooking from chilled.
- Make a double batch of this and freeze, allow to defrost for 24 hours in the fridge before baking.
- This can be assembled a day ahead and kept in the fridge before baking.
- Pasta bakes are excellent for using up the ends f packets - I think a mix of shapes makes the bake more interesting.
- Vary the flavours, or make this go further by adding peas and corn, chunks of broccoli or cauliflower.
- This recipe is 12 Weight Watchers Smart Points
Recipe for Turkey and Ham pasta bake commissioned by Parmigiano Reggiano, all opinions our own.