By Chef Linda
Stuffing, or dressing, is a requirement on many holiday tables. With so many variations, you can change it up every year, or stick to your favorite version. Cornbread is a favorite base for stuffing dues to its sweetness and texture, and of course, our version is compassionate…and delicious. This recipe for Butternut-Apple Cornbread Stuffing includes all the familiar flavor favorites like onion, celery, sage and time, but also uses butternut squash and apple for color and more complex flavor; butternut squash is creamy and sweet and Granny Smith apples lend a subtle tart note to the dish. We use simple substitutions like vegan butter or oil and vegetable broth to make it cruelty-free, demonstrating that the best dishes can also be compassionate.
Butternut-Apple Cornbread Stuffing
About 8 cups of stale cornbread, cut into cubes
1 sleeve of saltine crackers
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or vegan butter
1 large onion, chopped small, about 1 1/2 cups
4 stalks celery, chopped small, about 1 1/2 cups
1 teaspoon salt
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 apples, peeled and diced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 teaspoons dried thyme
4 to 5 fresh sage leaves, minced
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup of minced parsley
2-3 cups of vegetable stock, more or less depending on texture
Salt and pepper to taste
Place cornbread in a large bowl. Crumble saltines into bowl and toss together with cornbread. Set aside.
Heat oil or vegan butter in a pan over medium heat. Add onion, celery and salt. Cook for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften. Add squash, thyme, sage and about 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until the squash softens but is still a bit firm. Add the apples and parsley and cook for another 5 minutes until apples soften slightly. Remove from heat and empty contents of pan into bowl with cornbread and crackers. Add in vegetable broth, once cup at a time, and gently mix everything together. Result should be moist, but not soggy.
Place everything in a lightly oiled 9-inch by 13-inch casserole dish. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.
Notes: Cornbread should be made 1 to 2 days in advance and left on the counter so that it’s not too soft. Stuffing can be cooked a day in advance and reheated in a 350ºF degree oven, covered with foil, for 15 to 20 minutes or until warm. Remove the foil for the last 5 to 8 minutes.