Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Stuffing for the Holiday Season

pre-Thanksgiving meal
This recipe was posted on VegNews by Nava Atlas, author of many great cookbooks. I have one of her titles, Vegan Express, which was a staple for me during grad school and actually has a lot of great recipes that my friends and family (veg and non-veg like) really love. It's a great example of a cookbook that is nothing too fancy, just simple, easy and affordable ingredients you use every day. She has a great knack for combining them all, and when I first became vegan I found it was a great resource when I just didn't know what to make for dinner that evening. Anyway, enough about Nava...and on to the recipe!

Wild Rice & Apple Stuffing

What you'll need:

2-1/2 cups water
2/3 cup uncooked wild rice
1 vegan bouillon cube
1-1/2 tbsp canola oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 large celery stalk, diced
2 medium apples, peeled and finely diced
3 cups whole-grain breadcrumbs
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/4 tsp dried thyme
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup apple juice

What you'll need to do:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring water to a simmer. Stir in wild rice and bouillon cube, bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently until water is absorbed, about 35 minutes. 
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a medium-size skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add onion and celery and sauté until golden brown. In a large mixing bowl, combine the onion-celery mixture with cooked wild rice, apples, breadcrumbs, cranberries, salt, thyme, and pepper, and stir to combine. Slowly drizzle in apple juice, stirring constantly, until mixture is evenly moistened. 
In a lightly oiled shallow baking pan, transfer mixture and spread evenly in pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until well heated through. 

Sounds good, right?

It was! Here are some tips and tricks, and a few of my own variations.
1. I didn't use celery. I just don't like it that much. It's fine all mixed into the stuffing, but all they had at the grocery store were these giant stalks and I didn't feel like buying a whole bunch of it just to throw in a little bit. In retrospect it might have provided a nice balance to the flavors, but I wasn't missing it, either. The apples provided a nice crunch factor. 

2. Whole-grain breadcrumbs? This would have been easy enough to do, but the truth is, I'm also not a big whole-grain person. I know it's healthier and blah blah blah, but to be perfectly honest whenever a recipe calls for whole-grain bread or whole wheat flour or whatever it may be, I usually just substitue white! This recipe was no exception.

3. Instead of apple juice I used what we already had on cider! I think it was a great addition! There's just enough that it's a very subtle substitution, but I can't help but think it was a nice little touch.

4. I didn't want your boring out-of-the-box breadcrumbs, though (no good for stuffing, and never as good as home-made!), so I grabbed a french loaf, and worked a little (admittedly, very easy!) magic.


This may be standard knowledge for many of you, but for the rest, if you've got a food processor (or blender!) here's the deal: just break up some pieces and throw 'em in!

making bread crumbs

A few pulses later and you'll be in breadcrumb heaven!

making bread crumbs

Et voilá!

5. Admittedly, I didn't actually do this last tip, but I think it would be super yummy! The other day I grabbed lunch at Whole Foods, and they had a very similar stuffing, with dried cranberries and pomegranate seeds! It was delicious! The seeds provided little bursts of juicy flavor--I can't wait to try that myself.

Otherwise, I pretty much stuck with the recipe and was quite satisfied with the results.

wild rice and apple stuffing

It's nice to keep a little juice or water on hand for re-moistening the next day.
The recipe says it serves 6-8 but I suppose that depends on what component this serves in your meal, and how much you eat! My boyfriend and I went through it in just a couple of sittings!

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