Thursday, November 25, 2010

Vegetable & Herb Dressing

As much as I love rice, I just can't eat it on Thanksgiving day. Instead, I would rather carb load on mashed potatoes and dressing. In fact, dressing (or stuffing) is one dish I want to make throughout the year but I just can't seem to do it. Maybe this coming year I'll make it as a side with roast chicken or turkey... since it doesn't have to be enjoyed only on Thanksgiving, right?! This dressing is one I made to share for the Thanksgiving lunch we had at our friend's Angela and Dan. Chock full of vegetables and fresh herbs, it's really flavorful and so, so easy to make. Forget those boxed mixes. You probably have all the ingredients in your pantry to make it from scratch!

Dressing or stuffing is easier thank you think to make. Essentially it's toasted or dry bread cubes, a liquid like broth and some seasonings. Anything in addition to that such as vegetables, herbs, nuts, protein, etc is just a bonus. For this dressing, I used some bread I already had on hand in the freezer. Some plain mini bagels and a loaf of whole wheat bread provided a great texture, flavor and contrast. You can certainly use any kind of bread you have so feel free to adapt and substitute where you'd like.

 
To add additional texture and flavor, I sautéed some vegetables including onions, garlic, carrots, leeks, celery and mushrooms. I chose not to include any sausage but that's also another addition you can include... bacon works just as well too!

Vegetable & Herb Dressing
original Joelen recipe inspired by Good Housekeeping

1 package (20oz) plain mini bagels
1 loaf (24oz) whole wheat sliced bread
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, finely diced
2-3 stalks celery, finely diced
1-2 leeks, sliced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 bunch fresh Italian parsley, finely minced
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves minced
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves minced
1 sprig fresh tarragon
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups low sodium chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prep the breads by cubing the mini bagels and whole wheat bread slices into slightly small bite sized pieces. Place the cubed breads on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toast the bread in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden and dry, tossing the cubes halfway through.

While the bread is toasting, heat up the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Once hot, add the onions, garlic and carrots. Sauté until softened. Add the celery, leeks and mushrooms and continue to sauté. Once softened, remove from heat and stir in fresh herbs and dry seasonings.

Remove bread from oven and transfer toasted bread into a large bowl ( I actually used a large pot.) Add the sautéed vegetables over the bread cubes and toss to incorporate. Slowly add the chicken broth a cup at a time, tossing to mix and soften the bread. Continue to add the broth until the consistency is a slightly mushy but still a little dry. Use your best judgement and if you think there's enough moisture, add another 1/2 cup just for good measure. Transfer this dressing mixture into a greased baking dish (or 2) and cover with foil.

Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake the dressing for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes.