Writing recipes is not easy. That is to say, translating recipes from “a bit of this and a splash of that” (ie my usual method of cooking) to actual measurements to be understood by the rest of the human population is, for me, rather tricky. However, I have chosen to set aside my aversion to exactitude to bring you my favorite vegan Thanksgiving recipes!

Over the course of the next five weeks, I will be sharing with you some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes, including my Cranberry Baby Carrots, Cheezy Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Pepperoncini Brussels Sprouts, and more. As the only vegan at Thanksgiving in my house (this will be my third year as such), most of the recipes are quite small; generally, they are for about 3-4 servings, enough for Thanksgiving dinner and plenty of leftovers (or for curious non-vegans around the table to taste the delights of your cooking!). You can, however, scale all of these recipes up to feed as many people as needed. They will also have make-ahead instructions whenever possible. This stuffing, however, is best prepped the night before and cooked on Thanksgiving.

To skip my prattling, click here for the full recipe and nutritional information.

Italian Bread Stuffing might be the most nostalgic Thanksgiving dish for me. Every year, I’d wake up to the smell of onions and celery frying just in time to run downstairs and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. By the time the parade was over, the turkey would be in the oven, and the stuffing would already be turning golden brown. These days, of course, the image of a dead bald hollowed-out bird with bread filling its carcass isn’t quite as appealing as it once was (sorry, Mom), but that aromatic, crispy, juicy stuffing still floats my boat with a few tweaks to the ingredients. Also, I guess since it’s not being stuffed into anything, it’s technically “Italian Bread Dressing”… but that just sounds like a bottle of Italian salad dressing with bread in it. Let’s just stick to stuffing.

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(Also, I should mention at this point that I have created Cornbread Stuffing Lip Balm, seasoned with sage, onion, and herbes de Provence. Now you can enjoy stuffing anytime, anywhere!)

First things first. Naturally, that’s the bread. I’d say about a pound of bread per person (again, 3-4 servings), which seems like a lot, once the wet ingredients are added, it shrinks waaaay down. Any white bread works, though I’d say anything NOT pre-sliced is best. Italian, French, sourdough, crusty, not so crusty, whatever you like. I’m using half of this rather pretty loaf that was already getting a bit stale. You want to tear or cut it into bite-sized pieces. I personally think tearing is best, but I’m lazy, so I cut it. Cover it with a tea towel overnight so it’s nice and stale in the morning. If you’ve forgotten to do this, you can put the pieces in the oven to dry them out, but it’s not quite as effective. As an added time-saver, you can mince your onion and celery the night before, too.

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The next day, sautée your minced onion and celery in the vegan butter until soft. I should take this opportunity to say that I am a great believer in the breaking of all healthy habits on Thanksgiving. I generally keep to a fairly healthy diet (though you’d never get that from my Instagram), but on Thanksgiving, all bets are off.

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Stir all of this lusciousness into your bread, along with the thyme, black pepper, and cheese. That last ingredient is what says “stuffing” to me. It may seem strange to some people, but in our family’s stuffing (shh, don’t tell!), we use grated pecorino romano cheese (hence the “Italian” bit). (Edit: I’ve found that the Follow Your Heart shredded parmesan is much tastier, though you’ll want to quickly blitz it in a food processor to grate it. Otherwise just stick with this still-pretty-good Go Veggie kind.)

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Now for the broth. I like a nice strong flavor, so I add a heaping tablespoon of reduced-sodium Better Than Bouillon vegetable base to a cup of hot water. That makes it about three times the concentration of normal broth. If you don’t have BTB or an equivalent vegetable bouillon, you can definitely use regular vegetable broth or stock – just make sure you taste the stuffing before baking to make sure the flavor/salt strength is right. Mix your BTB/broth in a little at a time, making sure the bread is evenly saturated. Because this stuffing doesn’t have any egg, you’re really depending on the bread-broth stickiness to hold it together. You want it to be wetter than you think it should be, if that makes sense, but not so wet that it becomes an actual paste. I think it’s better to be too wet than too dry. Don’t forget to taste it!

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This is the right consistency – moist but not mushy. Now pour all of this beauty into a greased casserole dish or loaf pan and brush the top with melted vegan butter.

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Bake at  325°F (160°C) for about 1½ hours or until golden brown. If the top is looking dry rather than crispy, you can brush it with more butter. At this point, you could flip it to get double-crust action, but I quite like half crusty, half soft and slightly creamy.

This stuffing is amazing on its own, topped with gravy and cranberry sauce, or sliced up on your after-Thanksgiving Tofurky sandwiches!wp-1477319737837.jpeg

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Italian Bread Stuffing | Printable Version

Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:
1 lb white bread
1 T vegan butter or oil
½ small onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
⅛ t black pepper
⅛ t dried thyme (or ¼ t fresh)
1 oz (by weight) vegan parmesan-style cheese
1 T reduced-sodium vegetable base + 1½ c hot water (or vegetable broth)
additional melted vegan butter for brushing

Directions:

  1. Tear or cut bread into bite-size pieces 1-2 days before cooking.
  2. Sauté onion and celery in butter over medium heat until soft and translucent.
  3. Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C)
  4. Stir into stale bread, along with the pepper, thyme, and cheese.
  5. Stir in liquid until evenly moistened.
  6. Pour stuffing into a greased baking dish and brush top with melted butter.
  7. Bake for 90 minutes or until golden brown, brushing with more melted butter if necessary.

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Next Monday is HALLOWEEN, so there will be a post for my Tofu Pumpkin Pie with Easy Oil Crust, plus a BONUS recipe for my Root Beer Sweet Potatoes with Pumpkin Marshmallows!

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3 thoughts on “Vegan Recipe: Italian Bread Stuffing

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