Thanksgiving and the holidays are quickly creeping up. You can already picture the dozen side dishes and the twelve-pound turkey on a table on the verge of collapsing. You can feel the exhausting aftermath. You can FEEL the food baby. So here’s a question, do you really need that giant bowl of what is essentially bread cut up into pieces?
No, I’m not saying don’t serve stuffing at all. Stuffing is a true holiday meal staple, but it might be a good time to test out some healthier, breadless stuffing alternatives that won’t leave you feeling too, well, stuffed. Besides, you might have guests who are gluten intolerant. There are many other alternatives that any one of your guests will appreciate and enjoy.
1. Roasting Vegetables
The most common breadless stuffing alternative is simply vegetables, particularly ones that are often used to make stock. Chop up some celery, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onion, and roasting herbs. Toss them with salt, pepper, and olive oil and place them in the turkey cavity. The vegetables will not only soak up the turkey juices but also add sweet, flavourful notes to the turkey meat.
2. Polenta and Sausage
True Italian holiday fare. Polenta, originating from Italy, is a super versatile ingredient and is gluten-free while the Italian sausages add an aromatic richness to this side dish. Cook 2 cups polenta in a pot then set aside. Cook chopped up half pound sausage in a skillet with onion and garlic. As it browns, add broth of choice to the sausage to cover entirely. Add polenta to the sausage mixture to soak up the broth. Transfer to a buttered baking pan and broil at 450°F for 10 minutes or until golden brown. You’ll be rewarded with a nice contrast of crispy and soft polenta.
3. Cauliflower and Hazelnut
Cauliflower is already the champ of gluten-free pizza crusts, but it also makes a terrific stuffing with the crunch of hazelnuts. Sauté mushroom and celery with olive oil, garlic, and onion. Use a food processor to blend cauliflower into a rice consistency. Add to the mushroom and celery mixture and cook for ten minutes. Pulverize hazelnuts with parsley, thyme, and lemon juice then add to the cauliflower mixture. Cook for 1 minute. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Pulses and Beans
Did you know that pulses are one of the healthiest foods in the world, and have the ability to end world hunger and save the planet? Aside from the fact that they need to be a part of your diet, it’s also an amazing bread substitute for stuffing. Any beans will work, but I personally love garbanzo beans. Sauté celery, carrots, onion, and garlic with olive oil in a pan. Mash together garbanzo beans with salt, pepper, rosemary, and sage. Stir in with the vegetables then transfer to a baking pan and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes with aluminum foil covering the pan.
5. Brown Rice and Pecans
Brown rice is a super healthy grain and pairs terrifically with turkey. It is full of texture and flavour, and is most likely a very safe bet to appeal to all your guests. Toast the pecans over medium-high heat and set aside. Saute celery and carrots with olive oil until soft, and then add the rice with stock, thyme, sage, and parsley. Bring to a boil for a couple minutes then reduce to simmer to cook for 20 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Chop up the pecans and mix in with the rice. The rice will still be chewy, but this consistency will make sure it cooks perfectly in the turkey.
What are some of your ways to prepare a healthy, breadless stuffing? Think you’ll go with some of these alternatives, or maybe just entirely resort to the vegducken instead? Let us know some of your ways to make big holiday meals healthy and gluten-free friendly!