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Thanksgiving 2014: Leek, Apple and Walnut Stuffing

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     I’ve decided to serialize my Thanksgiving post so that I can feature a different recipe each time.  Otherwise, I’ll write a huge blog post that no one will be able to sit through (probably including myself).  This year, I decided to forgo making a vegan “entree” to stand in for turkey.  Because, honestly, I’m all about Thanksgiving side dishes.  I mean, let’s be honest, stuffing? potatoes? pie?  Okay, so, pie isn’t exactly a side dish…but, I still think about it just as much as everything else.  Maybe more. 😉

     Last year, I made a delicious lentil loaf with Italian herbs and spices.  It was quite divine, but very filling.  I decided instead to add a soup and salad to my lineup for a pre-Thanksgiving “brunch” of sorts.  My family always eats dinner early, around 2 to 3 PM.  Because we get hungry in the morning while we cook and prep everything. I decided to make something light for everyone to munch on.  This is the best way to make sure no one over eats at dinner, too.  Well, they might still do that.
 
     This stuffing was my entree stand-in and it was absolutely wonderful.  I made the stuffing entirely from scratch, using an amazing bread recipe by Cara of Fork and Beans.  I’ve tried many gluten-free vegan bread recipes, and each one was different, pretty tasty, yet not entirely what I wanted.  The texture of gluten-free bread can be very tricky to get right.  Most gluten-free breads on the market right now are filled with eggs, which is no bueno for me.
     There are some brands I will buy in a pinch, but they weren’t going to do for Thanksgiving.  I have to go the extra 10 miles and make as much from scratch as possible.  The bread recipe from Fork and Beans is actually pretty simple and not as time consuming as I had thought.  The most difficult part of the recipe is creating the appropriate flour blend.  I substituted some flours for others since I did not have all of them handy.  Luckily, my concoction yielded a very tasty loaf of bread! =)  



     Feel free to use any type of vegan bread that you choose if you do not need to watch your gluten/wheat intake.  If you are looking for a simple gluten-free bread recipe though, I highly recommend taking the time to make this one.  It’s well worth it.  Better yet, make two loaves and use the other for french toast, sandwiches, or bread pudding.  P=

     I wanted to use lighter flavors in this stuffing than usual.  Normally, I would load my stuffing up with mushrooms, vegan sausage, and tons of vegetables.  I wanted to make my stuffing a bit more “clean” tasting this year, but still flavorful.  I opted for bright green apples, leeks, carrot, celery, onion, and meaty walnuts.  The result was still filling but less robust.  Deliciously different.  B)

Leek, Apple and Walnut Stuffing

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Yield: 8-10 servings, approx.
Source: inspired by Walnut-Apple Stuffing recipe from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf bread of choice (I used the recipe above), cubed
  • olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 leek, trimmed, washed, and thinly sliced
  • 3 peeled, diced Granny Smith apples
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 stalks of celery, trimmed and diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped fresh herbs to taste (I used rosemary, thyme, and sage)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup vegetable stock 


Instructions
Oven 350 F.

  1. Toss the bread cubes with the dried herbs, turmeric, garlic, salt and pepper.  
  2. Toast the bread cubes on a baking sheet for about 12 minutes or until golden brown and dry.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  3. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet or stock pot.  Sautee the leaks and onion over medium heat until golden and softened.  Add the other vegetables and continue to saute until tender, about 5-6 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper as you cook.
  4. Once the vegetables are finished cooking, combine them with the bread cubes in a large bowl.  Sprinkle the minced fresh herbs and toss to coat.  
  5. Moisten the stuffing with the vegetable stock and more olive oil if it seems dry.  
  6. Transfer stuffing to a large baking pan.  Bake 30-35 minutes or until the top of the stuffing is golden brown yet still moist inside.  Serve warm. ^_^

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