OK, so we didn’t have a traditional Thanksgiving this year. We are at Gumbo Cove, and we did a beachy-seafood thing. It was great! Check out our “belowdecks appetizers” that we shared on Instagram.
Instead of turkey, our main dish for Thanksgiving dinner was blackened tilapia, with a snack of blackened drum that our niece caught right off the dock here. She is the Real Deal, catching the first fish here off the dock, as well as the first edible fish. Continuing the seaside theme, we had crawfish pie (to cover the casserole requirement), grilled asparagus (for something green) and yeast rolls.
Our alternative Thanksgiving dinner was memorable and satisfying. But usually, we have a traditional Thanksgiving and make oodles and gobs of our dressing / stuffing, because that is THE fave dish for many of our family members. In fact, we had a new convert to our time-tested dressing recipe this year, which I’m sure is making my parents happy in heaven.
Every once in a while, even though this dressing is awesome, there’s a little extra. You might be in that situation right now: Turkey Day + Two and Tired of Reheating the Leftovers in the Same Way.
What to do?
The answer is Dressing Bites, or Stuffing Bites, depending on what your family calls that amazing side dish that fits perfectly with a bite of turkey and a dribble of gravy. I came up with this when we had a bit of a leftover opportunity after a “Big Thanksgiving” a few years ago.
Dressing Bites…what’s that, you say? Well, it’s quite easy. But get ready, this isn’t exactly a recipe as much as a set of guidelines. What we’re doing is using what we’ve got, a wonderful thing if you’re dealing with leftovers or are a contestant on Chopped. Dressing Bites are an assembled appetizer: Belgian endive boats with a smear of something smooth on the bottom, a bite-sized chunk of toasted dressing / stuffing, and a drizzle of something piquant, which together make for a very satisfying – and repurposed – nibble.
Let’s do it!
See the Notes section below before you start your tasty bites.
- Belgian endive, about three to five heads
- Nut butter or creamy dip / spread for the first layer
- Leftover stuffing / dressing
- Pepper jelly or other piquant ingredient like Sriracha for the topping
Wash, trim and separate the Belgian endive, making individual ‘boats’ for serving up the delicious appetizer.
Put about a teaspoon of the spicy nut butter or creamy dip / spread into the widest part of each Belgian endive boat.
Pre-heat the oven to 400°. Crumble the leftover stuffing / dressing into bite-sized pieces, and put them into a pre-heated oven. Cook until they are hot and crisp around the edges, about 8 minutes (but watch them in case they are done earlier).
When the stuffing bits are browned, remove from the oven, drain on paper towels if they are a bit oily, and then place onto each endive boat, atop the spread.
Top with a dribble of your pepper jelly and serve immediately.
Let’s talk about your ingredient options for the creamy smear, or “schmear”. I used Habanero Cashew Bacon Chipotle Butter from Just Pure Flavors, because I had it, and because I love it. But you can use anything you’ve got that is creamy-schmeary and tasty, like:
- hummus, of any flavor
- creamy dip, like French onion
- red pepper spread
- artichoke dip
- sweet potatoes, if they are spreadable
- a thick salad dressing, like ranch or green goddess
- bacon-jalapeno jam
And then, for your drizzle, choose something complementary. I used red pepper jelly called Inferno Sauce, from Just Pure Flavors, because I had it and because I love it (do you seem a theme there?). But you could use anything that complements your first layer choice:
- Sriracha would go well with hummus or a creamy white dip
- a dollop of raspberry jam or any other favority jam or jelly
- cranberry sauce, to use another Thanksgiving leftover
- balsamic vinegar, plain or flavored
The trick is to choose flavors that will go together rather than compete with each other and bring out the rich, homey taste of the dressing. But don’t be afraid to try some weird combinations to see what works. In fact, that could be a post-Thanksgiving holiday game: who can put together the best Dressing Bite. You could put out all the options and let your friends and family get creative.
One more thing: the crunchy dressing bits, after toasting and before getting assembled, are addictive! They are good just by themselves. In fact, smaller versions make terrific croutons for a post-Thanksgiving salad.
So – that’s what you can do with your leftover dressing. Trust me on this. 😊
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