This pasta is the most delicious and stress free way to use up leftover turkey. It’s quick, easy and only uses 5 main ingredients!
It’s a too common scenario when you’re left staring at the leftover turkey wondering if you can face another bite. It takes a good old spruce up to revive leftover turkey, but you really can’t go wrong when you throw it in a simple pesto pasta. Follow me..
Leftover Turkey Pasta
This dish is based on cupboard/fridge staples for me and hopefully they’re familiar faces for you too! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Leftover Turkey – I usually aim for the breast, but any cut of the turkey will do.
- Pasta – Anything you’ve got on hand, short or long cut both work great.
- Pesto – Here I use Basil Pesto. Homemade is best of course!
- Bacon – Must I really justify this one? 😂
- Sun Dried Tomatoes – These bring everything together and add that little ‘something something’. Highly recommend adding them.
Can I use leftover chicken instead?
Yup! This recipe works great with chicken too. You can even use leftover ham (just leave out the bacon).
Because the turkey is already cooked and the sun dried tomatoes just need warming through, once you’ve fried the bacon I recommend popping them in the pan just to heat up.
Process shots: add bacon to drizzle of oil (photo 1), fry until crisp then stir in tomatoes/turkey (photo 2).
Starchy Pasta Water
One of the most crucial steps when making pesto pasta, and actually most pasta dishes in general, is utilizing the water the pasta is cooked in. If you’ve been a reader of mine for a while you’ll have seen me bang on about this relentlessly 😂
Have you ever made pesto pasta and it just turns out dry and greasy? Yep, we’ve all been there! Pesto is quite oil-heavy, so by tossing through a few splashes of starchy pasta water you help emulsify those oils and create a juicy sauce.
Scoop just before draining!
You’ll want to collect the water JUST before you drain the pasta. This is for two reasons:
- Heat – If you scoop it after you’ve just added the pasta, by the time the pasta cooks the water you collect will be lukewarm and lower the temp of the pasta when served.
- Starch – The water will be at its starchiest towards the end of the pasta cooking. The more starch, the ‘creamier’ the sauce and the better it emulsifies with the oil.
It’s also important to make sure you heavily season the pasta water, just so it doesn’t dilute the flavour of the pesto too much.
How to make Leftover Turkey Pesto Pasta
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when making pesto pasta is to combine everything in a pan over heat. This will not only split the pesto and cause the pasta to go greasy, but it’ll also burn the basil and cause it to go a dark muddy colour.
When making pesto pasta you want to make it OFF heat in a mixing bowl.
The leftover heat from the pasta and pasta water will keep everything nice and toasty.
Can I make this ahead of time?
You can, it just depends on how long the turkey has been leftover for. Just tightly cover in the fridge and bring to room temp when ready to eat. Don’t reheat or burnt basil & greasy pasta will greet you on the other side.
Can I use other pestos?
Process shots: add pesto, pasta and splash of pasta water in a bowl (photo 1), combine then add bacon, sun dried tomato and turkey (photo 2), mix and thin out with pasta water as needed (photo 3).
Serving Leftover Turkey Pasta
From there you can serve it as it is, or with a truck load of parmesan. Up to you 😁
If you’re looking for another delicious leftovers recipe check out my Leftover Chicken & Bacon Pasta!
For more similar recipes check out these beauties too:
Leftover Turkey Recipes
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this leftover turkey pasta shall we?!
How to make Leftover Turkey Pasta (Full Recipe & Video)
Leftover Turkey Pasta
- Small Frying Pan & Wooden Spoon
- Medium Pot & Colander
- Medium Sized Mixing Bowl & Spatula
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
- Fine Cheese Grater
Ingredients (check list):
- 7oz / 200g Pasta of Choice
- 1 cup / 125g Leftover Turkey, chopped into small bite sized pieces (can sub chicken)
- 1/3-1/2 cup / 80-120g Pesto (see notes)
- 6 Sun Dried Tomatoes, finely diced
- 4 slices of Bacon, finely diced
- dash of Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper, as needed
- Parmesan, to serve
- Pop pasta in salted boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve a cup of starchy pasta water just before draining.
- Meanwhile add bacon to a dash of oil in a pan over medium heat. Fry until it begins to brown/crisp then add in sun dried tomatoes and leftover turkey. Fry for a couple of minutes to heat through then remove from heat.
- Add drained pasta to a mixing bowl. Add pesto and a splash of starchy pasta water then give it a good stir. Mix in bacon/sun dried tomato/turkey and keep stirring until the pesto coats the pasta, using your starchy pasta water to thin out as needed. Season with a pinch of black pepper.
- Serve with a good grating of parmesan and enjoy!
Quick 1 min demo!
If you loved this Leftover Turkey recipe then be sure to Pin it for later! Already made it or got a question? Give me a shout in the comments and pick up your free ecookbook along the way!