Saturday, October 8, 2011

Super Fast and Easy Anything Goes Stuffing

Thanksgiving rocks. I think it might be my favorite holiday. That probably has nothing to do with how much I love cooking and having people over. When I moved to Canada from the US, it took some adjustment to get used to Thanksgiving being in October with only a 3-day weekend! I still pine for a crisp Thursday in November being the holiday.

I would always take Wednesday off as well so I could start cooking the day before. Hello, 5-day weekend. Or is that even a weekend anymore at that point? No matter, it was awesome. I always made a point to stay in on Black Friday but that is usually the day I'd start decorating for the winter holidays. Actually, sometimes I'd even start putting up my tree and decorating it after Thanksgiving dessert. I'm sure my guests were quite amused that I'd get so excited to do that, but hey - it's the little things sometimes, right?

Chestnuts ready to go into the oven

So Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend. People up here don't tend to stick to actual day to celebrate like we did in the US. That actually makes it easier, anyway. I have my dinners on Sundays so I can spend Monday eating leftovers and doing nothing that requires me to be on my feet like I am for the two days previous. I'm taking a break with a glass of wine to write this right now. I have a more things to make tonight so tomorrow's not too slammed. Vegan MoFo has given me a great excuse to come sit down for a bit. I don't typically stop moving until the very end of the evening when I'm about to fall into bed. So yay, MoFo for that!

I'm usually so bad about remembering to take photos of things for Thanksgiving, but I've been doing alright with it this year. I want to make a separate post about everything I'm making. Tonight, let's talk stuffing!

I make a homemade vegan roast and I actually do use this to stuff it, but I'll also serve some of it just in a dish on the side. I used to always buy those bags of super dry bread cubes and then try to make something wonderful out of it. I've actually discovered that I like stuffing better made from fresh bread. It's quite easy and takes almost no time. If you've never done it, try it sometime. The texture is a bit different, but that's because your stuffing is already moist and you're not trying to soak up everything with it.

No more hard stuffing! Sprouted grain bread is especially great for this.

Another great thing about my stuffing recipe is that you can pretty much add whatever you want to it and it tastes good. Though I don't know if you want to take me too literally and start adding weird things like peaches or something. That might not be the best. I typically always use onions or shallots, carrots, celery, chestnuts and shitake mushrooms in mine. For the herbs, I'll just grab whatever looks freshest. I went to the farmers market this morning and bought savory, thyme, sage and rosemary so that's what I'm using for this particular batch.

Roasted and peeled chestntus

I'm a huge fan of chestnuts in stuffing. They really add a bit of an extra punch of deliciousness. They're just slightly sweet while still being savory enough to blend in well with everything else. The texture is a bit softer than the carrots and celery while not being as soft as the bread. If you can't get fresh chestnuts, you can use canned ones, it's totally fine. Sometimes it can be hard to find fresh ones and when you do, sometimes they're old and yucky. I usually eyeball how many chestnuts I add to the stuffing so I'm just guessing at how much are in there. If you're using canned ones, just use a whole can. If you're buying fresh ones, just use whatever looks like enough. I always roast them all and then freeze whatever I don't put in the stuffing to use later. There are a couple of really great recipes in Veganomicon using chestnuts that you could make with the leftovers.

Roast Chestnuts

Preheat your oven to 425 F.

Cut a little slit in each of your chestnuts so the steam can escape when you're baking them. Arrange them on a shallow baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes.

Let the chestnuts cool on the pan for about 5 minutes and then pour them onto a kitchen towel. Gather the towel up at the sides so that no chestnuts can escape and mash them around a bit to loosen the shells. Peel them as soon as they're cool enough to handle without burning you. If you wait until they're too cold, they'll be really hard to peel so try and do it while they're still warm.



1 loaf of bread (I use sprouted grain bread)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion or a handful of shallots, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large carrots, diced
3-4 ribs celery, diced
3/4 cup mushrooms, chopped (I usually use shitake, but use whatever kind you like)
2 tablespoons each fresh herbs (I usually use rosemary, sage, savory and thyme or you can buy one of those "poultry blends" That works well for this.
1 1/2 cups roasted chestnuts, chopped
2 cups warm vegetable broth

In a pan over medium heat (I use my cast iron skillet for this) heat the olive oil. Add the onions or shallots and cook for about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add the celery, carrots and mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes or until the carrots just start to get soft. Add in the fresh herbs and cook for another 2 minutes.

While you're cooking the veggies, cut the bread into cubes and toss them into a large bowl. You'll probably have to do this just a few slices at a time.

Once the veggies are done, add them to the bread cubes along with the chestnuts. Stir gently to evenly distribute the veggies and chestnuts. Pour the warm broth over the mixture and stir.

If you're using this to stuff something you can stop here. It'll cook more when it's in the oven. If not, you'll want to transfer your stuffing to a baking dish and cook for about 20 minutes in a 350 F oven.


  1. I love the idea of cooking stuffing separately - need to try it - wonder if canned chestnuts would work - i once tried peeling boiled chestnuts and it was a horrid experience

  2. Wow, your stuffing sounds delicious! I always wished we had thanksgiving (American or Canadian!) here, it'd be so cool to have an extra winter holiday to get excited about.

  3. Happy thanksgiving. Hope you have a great weekend!