This year's Thanksgiving may be the smallest gathering I'll ever host, which means the leftovers are sure to be the biggest I've ever faced.
While I'm cutting back on the number of dishes we're making, the basics remain the same. I'm just not ready to relinquish the joy of roasting a turkey or filling our home with the promising scent of simmering cranberries and baking pies. We'll be mashing potatoes and whisking gravy, and in honor of my late dad, we'll make his favorite dish of sweet potatoes glazed with browned butter and maple syrup.
Come Friday, I'll take on that yearly challenge of figuring out how many meals I can fashion from the remains of this feast. They will provide a week's worth of ingredients, the makings of comforting soups, pot pies, stir-fries, sautés and salads, and give me a break from the need to grocery shop.
Turkey is the easiest of leftovers to dispatch. It seems we never tire of those towering two-fisted sandwiches, but when we do, the meat can be frozen or added to any number of simple dishes. The vegetables, however, demand more creativity and attention because these simply don't keep.
The trick for all of the day's leftovers is to give their traditional flavors a bright, swift kick with global seasonings — hot, sour, salty, umami, savory and sweet. It helps to have a few condiments at the ready to ease the work and inspire last-minute innovation. The real fun is in turning what I already have on hand into a completely new dish.
Here are some ideas to get you started, along with a trio of sauces to keep at the ready (see recipes below). A satisfying meal is the measure of Thanksgiving Day leftover success.
Hummus: Purée equal amounts of sweet potatoes and hummus together. Season with lime juice and Za'atar (a Middle Eastern spice found in most supermarkets) and serve as a dip for raw vegetables and pita bread.
Pancakes and waffles: Add ¼ cup puréed sweet potatoes to a standard recipe for pancakes and waffles.
Curried Sweet Potato Mash: Whip roasted sweet potatoes with a little coconut milk and curry powder to taste. Or make Curried Sweet Potato Soup — the recipe appears below.
Mashed Potato Cakes: Whip mashed potatoes with Yogurt-Herb Dressing (see recipe) to taste and fill heavily buttered muffin cups with the seasoned mashed potato mix. Bake in a 350-degree oven until browned and crisped on top, about 15 minutes.
Turkey Shepherd's Pie: Toss chopped turkey, leftover vegetables and leftover gravy together and turn into a casserole dish. Cover with leftover mashed potatoes and bake in a 350-degree oven until the filling is bubbly, about 15 minutes.
Maple miso sauce
Glazed Roast Vegetables: Put leftover cooked vegetables into a lightly buttered dish and drizzle with the sauce. Bake in a 350-degree oven to glaze, about 5 to 10 minutes, and serve warm or at room temperature.
Turkey Stir-Fry: Season a quick stir-fry of cooked turkey and vegetables with the sauce and serve over brown or white rice.
Turkey and Soba Salad: Toss the sauce with chopped turkey and cooked soba and serve over dark greens; garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
Honey mustard vinaigrette
Wild Rice Turkey Salad: Toss together cooked wild rice, chopped turkey, chopped apples and chopped celery. Serve on dark greens and garnish with a dab of fresh cranberry sauce.
Harvest Salad: Drizzle the vinaigrette over a composed salad of diced turkey, chopped apples, roasted squash, cubes of Cheddar cheese, sliced radishes and hard-cooked eggs. Garnish with toasted pecans.
Pulled Turkey Sandwiches: Shred dark meat turkey and heat in a pan with some of the vinaigrette to taste. Serve on soft buns and top with dill pickles.
Creamy Turkey Salad: Toss the dressing with chopped turkey and chopped celery or fennel and serve over dark greens.
Creamy Vegetable Hot Dish: Toss roasted vegetables with a little of the sauce and turn into a buttered baking dish. Top with buttered breadcrumbs and bake in a 350-degree oven until the top is crisped, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Beth Dooley is the author of "In Winter's Kitchen." Find her at bethdooleyskitchen.com.