My family has never been (at least in recent memory) one to break out the ovens and cook up a Thanksgiving feast. "Why cook when someone else will do it for you?" they ask. And I can agree with that. When you have family members that you only see a couple of times a year visiting, the oven looks like a much less enticing companion. And when you're in vacationing in Florida (which we have been pretty often), who wants to be stuck in the kitchen?
About five years ago, Thanksgiving was just going to be Dad, Mom, and me in Pittsburgh, so we went to the grandest buffet EVER. It wasn't limited to turkey and mashed potatoes. There was lobster and sushi and steak and hundreds of sides. And the dessert buffet was sinful to even look at. I surely ate my money's worth, but didn't even come close to trying everything offered. And the restaurant was packed! Evidently, my family isn't the only one that goes out for Thanksgiving dinner.
But this year the celebration will be at my house, so in an effort to not put out dishes filled with inedible slop, I've been trying out a variety of recipes. I've never really made the "traditional" (read: meat-based) versions of these recipes, so this is a completely new adventure to make vegetarian versions, which is why I tried out two different ideas for stuffing. I just made half the pan traditional and the other half with dried cranberries and vegan Italian sausage. The cranberry-sausage version was great! I would definitely recommend those adds if you decide to put this stuffing on your Thanksgiving table (and you should!).
10 cups 1/2 inch (or smaller) bread cubes from firm sandwich bread 2 Tbsp 1 Tbsp minced fresh garlic (2 - 3 cloves) 1 cup finely chopped onion 1 1/2 cups finely chopped celery 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley 1 tsp dried sage 1 tsp dried thyme 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp black pepper 2 - 3 cups vegetable stock Optional: 1 cup cooked vegetarian Italian sausage crumbles (or links cut into small bite-sized pieces) Optional: 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9" x 13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray or oil it. Toast bread cubes in a large baking sheet in the oven until golden brown. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.
Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Sauté onions and celery until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the parsley, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper.
Transfer the bread cubes to the skillet and stir gently until everything is well mixed. Add 2 cups vegetable stock, and stir until it is absorbed. Add more stock as needed so that the mixture is moist and clumping together, but not soggy.
In a separate skillet, cook up the sausage until it is warm and slightly crispy. Gently stir in the sausage and cranberries into the stuffing.
Transfer to the baking dish and bake covered for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes to form a crusty top.
Source: Adapted from Savvy Vegetarian