Southwest, Persian aromas spice up Thanksgiving leftovers

Does your post-Thanks-giving refrigerator  boast turkey scraps and too many sweet potatoes? Give those leftovers a Jewish spin with sweet potato knishes and a Persian-influenced turkey dish.

The Southwest Sweet Potato Knishes combine leftover baked sweet potato with cheese and green chilies, wrapping the savory filling in purchased puff pastry.

Using the puff pastry makes quick work of knish making. I recommend the parve brand available in most supermarkets. Each sheet is about 9 by 10 inches, with two sheets in each package. Adjust recipe accordingly if you use a different-size product.

The recipe is quite adaptable. Try leaving out the cheese and subbing 1 cup chopped cooked turkey.

Turkey and Cranberry Sauce with Near Eastern Flavors is based on fesenjan, a Persian Jewish chicken dish with a sweet-tart flavor. Canned cranberry sauce replaces the traditional pomegranate molasses. I like to use a mix of jellied and whole berry–style canned sauces, but either will work.

Southwest Sweet Potato Knishes

Makes 8

2 Tbs. oil, plus extra for pan

1 cup chopped onions

1 large baked sweet potato

4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

4-oz. can diced and roasted green chilies, drained

1⁄4 tsp. salt or to taste

1⁄4 tsp. ground black pepper

1⁄4 tsp. ground cumin

3 beaten eggs, divided

17.3-oz. box frozen puff pastry, defrosted per package directions

flour as needed

1 Tbs. water plus as needed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease large baking tray. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onion until golden. Peel and coarsely mash sweet potato. (You should have 11⁄2 cups.) Mix onions with oil into sweet potato. Stir in cheese, chilies, salt, pepper, cumin and 2⁄3 of the eggs. Mix well.

Lightly flour work surface. Unfold first puff pastry sheet on floured surface. Use a rolling pin to lightly roll over the sheet a few times to flatten it slightly. Cut into four equal sections. Place 1⁄4 cup of sweet potato filling in the middle of each section. Fold edges of pastry square up and over filling, overlapping where needed and completely enclosing, pinching closed when necessary. Brush seams with a bit of water. Place finished knishes seam side down on prepared baking tray. Repeat with second sheet of puff pastry.

Mix remaining egg with 1 Tbs. water. Brush tops and sides of knishes. Place in oven. Bake 28-30 minutes until golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving.

Turkey and Cranberry Sauce with Near Eastern Flavors

Serves 4-6

2 Tbs. oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 Tbs. finely chopped garlic

1⁄4 tsp. salt or to taste

1⁄4 tsp. ground pepper

1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1⁄4 tsp. ground allspice

1⁄2 cup finely ground walnuts

2 cups canned cranberry sauce (whole berry, jellied or a mix)

1 cup vegetable or chicken stock

11⁄2 to 2 lbs. cooked sliced turkey (about 4-6 cups), without skin

Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onion until golden. Add garlic. Sauté until golden. Stir in salt, pepper, cinnamon, allspice and walnuts. Sauté 1 minute. Add cranberry sauce, stirring until mixed in. Bring to a simmer. Stir in stock. Return to a simmer. Simmer for 3 minutes, stirring. Add in turkey. Cook, turning often, until cooked through and coated with sauce.

Remove turkey to serving platter. Cover with foil to keep warm. Raise heat to medium high. Let sauce come to low boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until very thick, about 3-5 minutes. Serve sauce with turkey.

Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. She blogs about her food at Contact Faith at [email protected].