By Chef Sara
When I was growing up, stuffing was the queen of our holiday table – and lucky for a stuffing lover like me, I got to experience two distinct types each and every season. My Southern grandmother, Lucy, made her Thanksgiving stuffing with an abundance of sage and savory homemade cornbread, recalled easily from memory after decades of practice. A few weeks later, on Christmas eve, my Midwestern grandmother, Helen, made a delicious bread stuffing using a humble boxed mix. They were both incredibly delicious, and I looked forward to them every year.
After moving to New York in my 20s, I discovered good rye and sourdough breads for the very first time, and started looking for new and exciting ways to use them in my cooking. In time, my love of stuffing and sourdough met head-on, and the Best-Ever Sourdough and “Sausage” Stuffing was born. In my compassionate alternative to traditional stuffing, vegan butter stands in for dairy butter, and protein-rich vegan sausage provides a gentle smokiness. The optional dried cranberries or cherries add a gentle sweetness and festive appearance, and contrast beautifully against the seasonal green of the fresh parsley and sage. I hope this beloved recipe becomes a new favorite at your holiday table!
Best-Ever Sourdough and “Sausage” Stuffing
1/4 cup vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) or olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
8 stalks celery, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage, leaves only, or 2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
3 large vegan sausage links, such as Field Roast Smoked Apple-Sage sausages, crumbled
1 large loaf day-old sourdough bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup fresh parsley, leaves only, chopped
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2/3 cup dried cranberries or cherries, coarsely chopped (optional)
3 to 4 cups vegetable broth
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish and set aside until needed.
Heat the vegan butter or olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions and celery plus a pinch of salt, then cook until the vegetables are translucent and softened, approximately 10-12 minutes. Add the sage and crumbled vegan sausage, and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, until the sausage is just beginning to brown.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, then add the bread, parsley, and optional dried fruit. Season with salt and pepper, then pour in 3 cups vegetable broth, using a spatula or your hands to mix everything together until well-coated and moistened. If the mixture seems too dry, add some additional broth. Taste the stuffing, adjust seasonings as needed, then spread the mixture evenly in the prepared baking dish, pressing down with your hands to make it smooth and uniform. Cover with foil, place in the oven, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until heated through. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, until the top is lightly browned. Serve hot.