The day before heading to Paris I woke up realizing even though I’m not having a traditional Thanksgiving there were all the elements of that once-a-year food smackdown in the fridge. Add a bag of cranberries, purchased on a whim for muffins or bread, I felt that I had to attempt some kind of holiday-ish cooking before becoming estranged from my kitchen for next two weeks.

And I wanted empanadas. The solution: empanadas stuffed with “faux” Thanksgiving leftovers, with a supporting cast of leeks and winter squash stuffed into pump, over-filled pastry pockets. And the cranberries? The classic fresh-cranberry relish spiked with smoked paprika makes for a hybrid cranberry-chutney chimichurri.

You’ll need roughly about 3 cups of filling for 12 plump empanadas, or more if you want really overstuffed treats. The basic idea is to have an element of soft sweetness (roasted squash or sweet potato), savory softness (stuffing), and a “prize” of a chunk of Brussels sprout or mushroom. Finely diced leftover meatless roast–Tofurky, veg sausage or ham–makes a tasty add-in to the stuffing mix. If your leftovers look a little dry moisten them up with a little vegetable broth; the savory mixture should be moist and sticky, but not soupy. You can either choose to layer the ingredients (my husband wasn’t a fan, reminded him of a meal just moved from the plate into the insides of an empanada, but I took that critique as mission accomplished) or gently fold the ingredients together for a uniform consistency.

I wish I had thought to bring these empanadas for snacking on the plane (blame the pre-flight jitters), but I bet your tofurkey that they would make a great weekend breakfast or hearty late night snack this post-Thanksgiving weekend.

Thanksgiving Leftover Empanadas with Cranberry Chimichurri

12 large empanadas

You’ll need roughly 3 cups of filling for 10 large empanadas. This can include a mix of chopped meatless holiday roast, stuffing, roasted veggies, sweet potatoes, you name it. I recommend a ratio of 2:1:1 roast (protein), stuffing, veggie.

This filling mimics that Thanksgiving leftover experience with hearty white beans and leeks, if you just want to skip T-day and head right for the glorious mashing of flavors wrapped in a tender wheat crust. A quick cranberry “chimichurri” relish is tart, sweet and subtly smoky companion to these little hand held meals.

12 six-inch rounds Whole Wheat Empanada Dough (prepare and chill dough before making filling) or any empanada dough from Viva Vegan!

1 large leek (about 1 lb), trimmed and carefully cleaned to remove grit

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

½ cup dry white wine or vegetable broth

1 teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon rubbed sage

One 14oz can white kidney (cannelini) beans, drained and rinsed

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups mashed, roasted butternut or winter squash. Lightly season with salt to taste. (just under 1 lb fresh squash)

12 Brussels sprouts, roasted until tender, lightly season with salt to taste

If desired: about ½ cup chopped meatless holiday roast, seitan, or vegan sausage

Soy creamer or almond milk for brushing

Chop leek in half then slice into ½ thick pieces. In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat, add leek, sauté until softened about 5 minutes then add garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in wine, thyme, cumin, sage and bring to a boil, then add beans. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until most of wine has been reduced. Remove from heat and let cool enough to handle.

While mixture is cooling preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. If desired fold squash and chopped holiday meatless roast into beans, or don’t if you want a layered empanada. Brush a dough round lightly with soy creamer, add about 2 ½ tablespoons of filling total, either half bean/squash mix or separate layers and plunk a roasted Brussels sprout in the center. Fold over dough, crimp or braid, gently place on baking sheet and brush with more soy creamer. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden, turning baking sheet half way through for even browning. Let cool for a few minutes (filling will be piping hot!) and serve with cranberry chimichurri.

Cranberry Chimichurri Relish

makes about 2 cups relish

I use less than ¾ cup of sugar, but if you want it sweeter add up to 1 cup, tasting as you go.

12 oz fresh cranberries

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon lime juice

grated zest from 1 orange

¾ -1 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons sweet or hot smoked paprika (obviously hot paprika will make this spicy, so go easy if not accustomed to using)

pinch allspice

Clean and dry cranberries. In a food processor bowl pulse all ingredients until a chunky relish forms, scrapping the sides of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula. Taste and season with more lime juice if desired. Store in a glass container tightly covered and let stand overnight or minimum 2 hours before serving to allow flavors to blend.

Wheat Empanada Dough

makes 12 large six inch diameter dough rounds

Tip: Drop a few ice cubes in the water for colder water that helps keep the gluten strands in the dough shorter. Shorter gluten equals more tender pastry. And tender pastry equals tender, more loving empanadas.

2 cups white whole wheat flour

1 cup all purpose flour

1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

8 tablespoons chilled non-hydrogenated shortening

2 tablespoons chilled vegan margarine

3/4 cup or more cold water

In a food processor bowl pulse together flour, salt and baking soda for a few seconds. Slice shortening and margarine into 1/2 inch chunks, add to food processor and pulse. Pour flour/shortening mixture into a large bowl and stream in cold water while mixing with fingers. Continue adding just enough water until to form a soft and stretchy dough. Briefly knead a few times, separate into four balls and flatten each into a disc about an inch thick and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Handle the dough minimally to keep it from getting tough. Chill overnight or for at least 4 hours.

Tear 12 pieces of waxed paper about 7 inches wide. Lightly dust with flour rolling surface and a rolling pin. Roll one of the dough discs about 3/8th thick, stretching and pulling the dough a little if necessary. To keep dough from getting too tough use long rolling motions on dough, occasionally lifting the dough by the edges and turning it a little to ensure even thickness throughout. Using a 6-inch diameter bowl pressed into the dough as a guide to cut circles, take a small sharp paring knife and run it around the edge of the bowl to cut out circles. Or use a huge round cookie or biscuit cutter. Stack circles of dough on top of one another, using small squares of waxed paper or plastic wrap to separate each piece to keep from sticking. Chill dough scraps and repeat rolling and cutting with remaining dough disc. Gather up all the remaining dough scraps, re-roll only one more time and cut out as many circles as possible. Chill rounds while preparing the filling or store in the refrigerator for up to a week, tightly wrapped in plastic to keep from drying out. Keep chilled until ready to fill and bake.