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Vegetarian Stuffing

Whether you call it stuffing or dressing, this dish and its many variations are a classic holiday dinner side dish. Personally, I always called it stuffing, regardless of the fact that it may or may not have actually be stuffed in a bird. I don’t really care for the mushy texture of the in-bird stuffings, so I tend to opt for the “on the side” variety with a crunchy, browned top.
I was working on a couple batches of stuffing for Slashfood this week and I really like the recipe that I ended up with, so I figured I’d share it here as well as there. This version uses cranberries instead of raisins and eliminates the small amunt of oil, which I found made little difference in the crispness of the final stuffing.
It’s very easy to make and completely vegetarian. It is flavorful with sage and a fair amount of sweetness from the fruit. You can, of course, adjust the seasonings to suit your tastes and the type of bread you are using. I don’t usually measure things as I’m adding them (and will sometimes toss in a bit of paprika or garlic just to make things different), so these are ballpark figures anyway. I like to use fresh bread, not stale, since the flavor is better and it gets just as crispy on top in the oven. I also like to use a good-qualiy store bought bread (usually from TJs or something) rather than homemade, since I tend to want to eat homemade breads and not chop them up into stuffing.
The only “odd” thing about the recipe is that I noted you should use “strong” vegetable stock/broth for the best flavor. I use a vegetarian bullion to make my veg stock, so it is easy to increase the amount for a stronger batch. Add a tbsp of soy sauce to boost the flavor if yours isn’t particularly flavorful.

Vegetarian Stuffing
3/4 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup apple, peeled and diced
2 tsp dried or 3 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp salt
pinch cayenne pepper
4 cups bread cubes (white or whole grain)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)
10-12 tbsp strong vegetable broth* (up to 3/4 cup)

Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease a 1.5-quart baking dish.
In a small frying pan, sautee the onion, celery and apple until tender with the parsley, sage, salt, cayenne (or regular pepper, if you prefer). This should take about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes with onion mixture, cranberries, pecans, vegetable broth, adding slightly more if the bread is very absorbant (some need more liquids), and mix well. Taste one of the cubes and, if necessary, add additional salt or pepper.
Pour into prepared casserole dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes, until top is crisp and golden.
Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

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  • Ana
    November 19, 2006

    Nick, Thank You so much for sharing this recipe!!!
    I was looking for an apple kind of stuffing but most of them had saussage or other type of meat, and I wanted it all vegetarian, as I do like the turkey on thanksgiving day and that is enough meat for me.
    Loved your recipe and will probably make it to our meal!
    Thanks again!!

  • Lydia
    November 20, 2006

    My kids are vegetarians and I’m always looking for new stuffings to include on the holiday table. Anything with apples is a winner! Thanks.

  • Lisa
    November 20, 2006

    We are giving away a free cookbook to anyone who asks from now through Thanksgiving at http://www.goodhomecookbook.com/wordpress/

    Would you pass the word around? Thanks!

  • Helene
    November 20, 2006

    Thanks so much for posting a straight forward stuffing recipe. I like mine crunchy too. I usually use stale cornbread. I like your addition of both cranberries and apples. Sounds terrific!

  • chicopants
    November 20, 2006

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  • Baking and Books
    November 20, 2006

    Anyone who has this on their table this week is going to have a delicious Thanksgiving! It looks fantastic.

    Ari (Baking and Books)

  • drbiggles
    November 22, 2006

    Hmm, I usually add rendered bacon to my vegetarian stuffings and stews. It really adds a dimension to the flavor cavalcade. But that’s just me.


  • Nic
    November 22, 2006

    I’m not surprised – you add bacon fat to everything Dr. B!

  • Leigh-Anne
    November 22, 2006

    This is very close to my own recipe, and yours looks wonderful. I’ve always used raisins — the cranberries are a nice touch. I warm my broth with the raisins while the other veggies cook; soaking them plumps them up a little before adding them to the stuffing.

  • Meeta
    November 23, 2006

    That does look good. I think a vegetarian stuffing is a great idea and am actually leaning towards something like this for X-Mas.

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