Healthy, hearty Thanksgiving leftover recipes to make for your work lunch

WeWork Food Labs members share their favorite vegetarian dishes for a post-holiday midday meal

For many Americans, Thanksgiving conjures up memories of family, football, taking a cozy, tryptophan-induced nap after a large turkey meal—and then days of sandwiches with leftover turkey. But there are more creative ways to repurpose whatever hasn’t been consumed for your work lunch.  

Members of WeWork Food Labs, an accelerator program at WeWork 511 W 25th St in New York, are coming up with new ways to cook delicious, nutritious dishes. For a holiday that prides itself on food, there’s a lot that can be done creatively with leftovers, making for the perfect midday meal. 

Carmel Hagen, founder and CEO of Supernatural, which produces nontoxic baking ingredients such as plant-based food colors and soy-free sprinkles, says leftover sweet potato is great for an afternoon smoothie. She recommends adding a tablespoon of coconut sugar to make it special.

At Seed + Mill, a female-owned shop dedicated to sesame seed products, cofounder Rachel Simons loves “traditional recipes with a twist,” she says. 

She shares a recipe that elevates any pumpkin pie (a staple of the Thanksgiving table), adding a drizzle of tahini on top. Tahini is made from roasted and ground sesame seeds, which are chock-full of iron, calcium, and protein.

When thinking about what to do about leftovers, there’s no reason to compromise deliciousness. With a plant-based diet, “it’s still all about indulging in a lot of food,” Simons says. “But you should be thinking: ‘What is fueling me? What feels good in my body?’ We strive for recipes that are healthy and still feel indulgent.”

For any leftover ingredients or plates, here are some lunchtime dishes that make the most of them:

Sweet potato smoothie

Ingredients:

1 cup sweet potato (peeled)
1/2 banana
1 1/2 cups milk or non-dairy milk of your choosing
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1 pinch sea salt
1 cup ice

How to make it: 

1. Add all ingredients to blender. 
2. Blend on high for at least a minute, until smoothie is smooth. Serves 2.

Photograph courtesy of Seed + Mill

Honeynut squash with classic tahini sauce

Ingredients:

4 honeynut squash
3 tbsp olive oil 
3 tbsp maple syrup (or date syrup if you have it)
Pinch of salt and pepper and extra flaky sea salt for serving 
1/2 cup toasted chickpeas (store-bought are fine, or make your own with our recipe here) 
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds 
Green herb of your choice for decoration (we used fennel fronds)

How to make it: 

1. Preheat oven to 400℉. Slice squash in half and remove the seeds. 
2. Place squash cut side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
3. Drizzle olive oil, maple syrup, and salt and pepper over the squash and roast for 45 minutes or until squash starts to caramelize and turn a golden color.  
4. While squash is cooling, make the tahini sauce (recipe here). 
5. Smear the sauce over a serving platter and place the squash over the sauce, allowing it to coat the base of each squash half.
6. Sprinkle chickpeas, sesame seeds, and pinch of flaky sea salt and herbs over squash when ready to serve.

Roasted sweet potatoes with tahini ranch

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Seed + Mill organic tahini 
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp white miso
2 tsp maple syrup
1 crushed garlic clove
1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper

How to make it:

1. Blend all ingredients except water in a food processor until smooth.
2. Slowly add up to 1/2 cup water (stop adding the water once you are happy with the consistency). The more water, the thinner the sauce will be. Lasts for up to 2 days if kept in an airtight container.

Photograph courtesy of Seed + Mill

Tahini pumpkin pie

Ingredients:

For the chocolate pie crust:
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt

For the tahini and pumpkin pie:
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup organic tahini plus more for the swirl
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2/3 cup whole milk
Whipped cream or crème fraîche, for serving

How to make it:

1. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch chunks and place in the freezer along with 1/3 cup water to keep chill.
2. Place the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt into a food processor and pulse to combine. Add in the chilled butter and pulse 5 to 6 times until the butter breaks down into pea-sized pieces. With the food processor running, stream in the water. The dough should look a bit crumbly at first but become damp enough that when pressed together with your fingers, it holds its shape.
3. Remove the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap to assist you, press the dough into a disk. Wrap tightly and chill for at least one hour.
4. When ready to bake, dust a work surface with flour. Roll the dough into a 12-inch round. It should be large enough so that there is at least a 1-inch border surrounding a 9-inch pie pan when inverted over top of the dough. Use a paring knife to trim the dough of any excess. Place the dough into the pie pan leaving the extra dough to hang over the sides. Tuck the edges under the dough and crimp the sides. Let the dough chill in the fridge while you make the filling.
5. Preheat oven to 425°F.
6. Place the pumpkin puree, tahini, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, clove, and nutmeg into a food processor. Turn the food processor on, and puree until the ingredients are well combined. Remove the top, scrape down the sides, and let the food processor run once more. This time, slowly stream in the milk. Once all the milk has been incorporated and the pie filling has become creamy and smooth, pour the mixture into the pie crust.
7. Use a spoon to drop 4 small blobs of tahini into the pumpkin mix, then use the back of a clean spoon to swirl the tahini through the pumpkin mix and create whatever design you think looks good. 
8. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 350°F and continue to bake for 35 minutes more. Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack until completely cool.
9. Once the pie is completely cool, slice the pie and serve each portion with a dollop of whipped cream or crème fraîche (even better). 

Photograph courtesy of Seed + Mill

Rocky road

Ingredients:

1 cup melted dark chocolate 
1 cup organic tahini
1/2 cup salty sweet popcorn
1/2 cup halva chopped into cubes—in any of our vegan flavors (we like pistachio!)
1/2 cup roasted peanuts—or any other nut—we also like macadamia, pecan, or walnuts

How to make it:

1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and gently combine (be careful not to crumble the halva too much).
2. Pour mixture into a loaf tin lined with plastic wrap.
3. Refrigerate until firm. 
4. Take Rocky Road out of loaf tin and slice into bars, squares, or any shape you like!

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