appetizers, mains, snacks

monday bites: turkey, bacon + avocado quesadillas.

Mr. Table thinks he invented the Thanksgiving Leftover Bite. He did not. I don’t know where he saw the idea, but last year our house was filled with wonton-wrapper-encased leftovers. There were a staggering amount of combinations, people; the man isn’t normally creative with food, but within the safety net of familiar food favorites, he went wild. It was like watching Jackson Pollack paint. In fact, my kitchen resembled one of his paintings. An egg roll fever carried him to a place where anything was possible, and every exciting combination could be dipped in leftover gravy. I’ll admit it was a wee bit inspired to bake turkey leftovers into egg rolls. It was fun. It was amusing. But I need an alternative that isn’t so “I just made Thanksgiving into smaller portions and stuffed them into a thin dough pocket.”

Natural next thought; quesadillas. Mexican cuisine’s answer to the egg roll. Cut into fourths, these quesadillas make a marvelous snack or light lunch, and they happen to be a perfect vehicle for your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. There’s only a few things in them, so not much extra to buy at the store (because don’t we all spend a small fortune on Thanksgiving), and they manage to take your turkey and transform it to a still-comforting yet not-so-holiday-tasting treat.

I don’t believe in big-production post-holiday meals. Too many of us are either hustle and bustling our way through retail stores, or in a prolonged food coma, or in the midst of a to-the-death wrestling match with our artificial Christmas trees to bother with actually making a big scene with our leftovers. We just spend 3 days straight in the kitchen making everything for the Big Feast anyway; why not take a break?

This dish, like the Chinatown Turkey Salad, allows you to do just that; there’s nothing to it, and you can easily make the bacon ahead of time and refrigerate it. When you’re craving something warm and quick which perhaps doesn’t include tons of mashed potatoes, simple assemble a few ingredients in a skillet and poof: dinner is served. If you want to get fancy about it, just toss up a green salad alongside; surely you’ll have some leftover raw veggies from the veggie tray to throw on top.

I know it’s crunch time now, so I’ll do my part and keep this short. I made a little chipotle sour cream to dip this in, and I loved it, but if you don’t want to go to the trouble, you can use regular sour cream, or salsa, or whatever you have on hand. Truly, these don’t even need a dip, so you decide how much of an effort you feel like putting forth.

Turkey, Bacon + Avocado Quesadillas with Chipotle Sour Cream

  • 3 cups cooked turkey*, shredded or rough chopped)
  • 2 avocados, halved and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
  • 8 strips bacon, cooked to just crisp
  • 2 cups Monterey jack cheese, shredded (freshly shredded or pre-shredded makes no difference here)
  • 8 large flour tortillas (10-inch size)
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup rough-chopped cilantro, for serving (optional)
  • for the sauce:
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from canned chipotle chiles in adobo

*you could easily substitute shredded white meat chicken for the turkey.

A note on portion size: This recipe makes 4 large quesadillas, cut into fourths. If you’re serving it alongside a hearty salad, or as part of an appetizer, maybe a serving size is two of those pieces, which means this recipe would make 8 “half” servings. I’m sure I didn’t need to go into detail there, but i like a nice note, you know? You know. 

Sauce time, if you’re doing that:

It’s nothing, really, whisk together your sour cream and chipotle sauce until everything is evenly distributed, and chill in the fridge until your quesadillas are plated.


Preheat your oven to 200˚F and throw a sheet pan in there. this should keep your finished quesadillas warm until you’re done cooking. If you’re only making one for yourself, skip this step.

Ready your ingredients. Your turkey should be in bite-size shreds or pieces, your avocado sliced and sprinkled with a little sea salt, your cheese shredded, your bacon crisped, and your tortillas out. Your cilantro should be chopped too, if you’re using it.

Assemble + cook: 

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, leaning towards medium high. When thoroughly warmed, add one of your tortillas. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese shreds over top, evenly, leaving maybe a 1/2 inch around the edge to allow for spread/melt. Next, add your turkey shreds, bacon, and avocado in a single layer (or close to that) and try to evenly disburse your ingredients. I like to rotate mine in a circle – turkey, bacon strip, avocado slice, repeat. Next, add another 1/4 cup of shredded cheese evenly over top. Top with another tortilla and lightly press down (that could be superstition) to get things to melt into each other. Do this occasionally, checking the underside for doneness.

Once you see a golden crisp to the bottom tortilla, use a large spatula and carefully, using your hand on top of the not-crisp tortilla as a guide, flip it over so the other side can heat up. Inevitably some of your insides may have scooted out; take your spatula and scoot them back in as tight as you can. Once the new underside is golden and crispy, You’re done. Or, if you’re me, you will have had time to examine and critique your first side, determine it’s not crisp enough; if this is the case, feel free to flip carefully for one more round until done.

Add to the baking sheet inside your warmed oven. Repeat as needed with remaining quesadillas. When you’re ready to serve them, remove the sheet pan with the quesadillas on them, and transfer them one by one to a cutting board. Using a big chef’s knife, cut them into fourths. Sprinkle them with a little of your chopped cilantro, and serve the chipotle sour cream alongside.

Yield: 4 quesadillas, so this should serve 4 as a hearty meal or up to 8 as a light lunch or dinner alongside a simple salad.


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  • Reply natalie November 19, 2012 at 9:00 am

    So happy i have all of these ingredients (minus the turkey) already. BF will be thrilled to have an excuse to eat leftovers AND quesadillas this weekend!

    • Reply shannon November 20, 2012 at 6:21 am

      the men, they can’t resist making things into quesadillas and/or egg rolls. it’s like something in their DNA.

  • Reply Ashley November 19, 2012 at 10:07 am

    The holy quadrinity = turkey/chicken + bacon + cheese + avocado. Nailed it, as usual. There is just something amazing about avocado with the makings of sandwich or, in this case, a quesadilla. I can’t get enough of it! And I love the image of a only mildly hostile kitchen takeover last Thanksgiving to produce miniature Thanksgiving eggrolls! I picture the kitchen as a battlefield, strewn with torn wonton wrappers, drops of gravy trailing across the counter, mashed potatoes flying through the air like missles, and a battered-yet-triumphant plate of delicious eggrolls declaring victory. Awesome!

    • Reply shannon November 20, 2012 at 6:11 am

      totally! i felt slightly weird about posting this because i thought, “these people are smart; they have to know that this combo is classic and also a no-brainer.” so i suppose it’s more of a reminder to grab some avocados, bacon, and cheese from the store when you shop for thanksgiving. i agree about avocado: i LOVE it on sandwiches, and on quesadillas it gets that semi-melty quality to it that’s incredible.
      oh ashley: it was EXACTLY as you are describing it. it’s like i’m having flashbacks now. whatever comes over most men when they attempt to make something to eat must be the same thing that comes over them during war or something. victory, yes, was his that day. Not mine, but his. 🙂 you make me laugh.

  • Reply Emma November 19, 2012 at 10:16 am

    How funny that my mind jumped to Thanksgiving leftovers spring rolls, and you were blessed with the joy that is Thanksgiving leftovers egg rolls. Wow, man. I bet you didn’t deep fry your egg rolls though, right? Next step, deep fryer, Mr. Table!

    • Reply shannon November 19, 2012 at 5:45 pm

      no deep frying last year, no: just the whole “put a little veggie oil or butter on them and bake until crispy thing. I’m afraid my kitchen would be in danger were he to begin deep-frying, so i hide the only vessel he could deep fry things in. it’s for the greater good, emma. i have to. 🙂

  • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats November 19, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Haha, I would have loved to see what your hubby came up with! Quesadillas are so versatile…absolutely perfect for any type of leftovers.

    • Reply shannon November 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm

      Amy, we were floored. It was a madhouse of turkey, cranberry sauce, gravy, potatoes, etc. And he can be a picky eater in general, but thanksgiving food? he mostly loves all of it. so it was like combination overload. I may cover the kitchen in plastic wrap this year for easier cleanup. 🙂

  • Reply movita beaucoup November 24, 2012 at 6:00 am

    I agree with Ashley up there – turkey/chicken + bacon + cheese + avocado IS the holy quadrinity. But because I don’t have any turkey leftovers – and I have to go to work all day – I’ll probably have to settle for a turkey guacamole sub at Quiznos tonight.

    That’s the saddest comment I’ve ever left on a food blog.

    • Reply shannon November 24, 2012 at 3:50 pm

      “quadrinity” is a fantastic word, anyway, and yes: appropriate for that ingredient combo. is there a better one? i doubt it.

      i’m sad FOR you that you left that comment. I’m sadder still to admit that in a little bit of a way, the Quiznos turkey bacon guac sub is what led me to make this.

      now i’m embarrassed. and rightfully so, i might add.

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