November – Veggie Sausage Dressing with Raisins

This will be the first Thanksgiving that I am only making a vegetarian version of my regular dressing or stuffing recipe. You can see last year’s meat lovers sausage and raisin version here, definitely not vegetarian. In past years I have made two dressings, one with and one without the sausage. But this year the vegetarians at dinner will well outnumber the carnivores. It’s also the year I discovered LIghtlife Gimme Lean veggie sausage. It’s a good substitute for pork or turkey sausage, not perfect but acceptable. It’s lean and not as flavorful as regular bulk sausage. To counter that I’ll add extra seasonings and butter (this is not vegan) to make up the difference.

I am amazed at how far vegetarian food has come.

And how was it?

Veggie Sausage

Well, it was delicious! No one could tell the difference. This recipe is well worth the trouble of including in your vegetarian feast as a side. You could even stuff and bake a few halves of acorn squash as the Thanksgiving main course. Or, what about large portobello mushrooms? I think they would be good as well.

If you are making stuffing (inside your bird), stick with the regular meat version. Although as a thought, if you avoid pork and can’t find turkey sausage, this will work equally well as a stuffing.

This recipe is not vegan. I used parmesan broth (definitely not vegan) as a substitute for turkey or chicken stock. Parmesan broth is a very tasty broth made from the leftover rinds of parmesan cheese. Don’t throw them away! Store them in the freezer until you have enough to make this wonderful broth from them. A parmesan rind is a flavorful addition to a pot of minestrone soup, and then there is this wonderful vegetarian broth which tastes amazingly like chicken. One of our local delis even sells a package of them, left over from their own gratings. Check with your own gourmet deli and they may even give them away to you at no charge.

Some other options homemade vegetarian stock are instant vegetarian stock or magic mineral broth. If you use the instant vegetarian stock make sure you taste for salt before adding additional, it is quite salty.

Parmesan Rinds

If you don’t have any rinds or homemade vegetarian stock on hand, use a good quality commercial stock. Try to find one without an overwhelming carrot or celery flavor. Commercial vegetarian stocks vary greatly in quality. Some of them are awful. I found this Organic Imagine Vegetarian No Chicken Broth to be more than acceptable:

Vegetarian Stock

Raisin Cornbread Veggie Sausage Dressing:

  • 10 tablespoons of butter, divided plus more as needed
  • 1 pound of bulk vegetarian sausage
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 large stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning. See note 1.
  • Pinch or red pepper flakes
  • 4 fresh brioche rolls, hamburger or other soft bread (preferably a little stale), torn into large (3/4 inch) pieces. See note 2.
  • 8 oz. of cornbread, crumbled into large pieces, about 3/4 inch (you will want chunks rather than crumbs for texture and flavor)
  • 2 generous handfuls of golden or regular raisins
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper as needed
  • 1 cup or more of vegetarian stock, I used parmesan broth

Method:

  1. Melt the 5 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet.
  2. Add the onion and celery and sauté until beginning to soften, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the sausage, crumbling it into small pieces as it browns.
  4. Add the Herbs de Provence, poultry seasoning and red pepper flakes to the pan.
  5. Add the second 5 tablespoons of butter and remove from the heat, allowing it to melt.
  6. Meanwhile tear the cornbread and brioche bread into 3/4 inch pieces in a large bowl, you don’t want them too small.
  7. Add the raisins and mix.
  8. While still warm, add the contents of the skillet to the large bowl and mix well. Taste for salt, you want it well seasoned.
  9. If the contents look dry (it depends on how much fat is in your sausage), add another 2 (or more) tablespoons of butter to the skillet to melt. Then add it to the bowl. Ma Barnes would add as much as a full stick of butter at this point.
  10. If baking immediately, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  11. Spread the dressing in a casserole. Add the stock, you want the bread to be moist but not swimming. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes, then uncover and increase the heat to 400 degrees F. Bake for an additional 20 minutes to brown the top and crisp the edges (those charred bits are my favorite). Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn.
  12. If making ahead, set aside to cool. In my household that needs to be far away from the edge of the counter and out of reach of the dogs. Once cool you can refrigerate it for a day. Keep your last minute stress level down and prepare it the day before the holiday.
  13. When ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the dressing into a shallow casserole dish and add the stock. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until hot, about 45-50 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat to 400 degrees F and bake for another 20 minutes to crisp the top. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn although those charred crispy bits are my favorite.

Note 1: Check that any commercial poultry seasoning in the your pantry is fresh. Ground spices lose their potency quickly. My own was old and the grocery store was out of that particular mix. You can make your own poultry seasoning, here is the recipe:

  • 2 teaspoons ground sage
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

Note 2: Don’t use all cornbread. You need the regular bread to absorb the liquid. The cornbread should not be predominant.

Finished baked Dressing

I have not received any remuneration from the commercial products mentioned in this post. The recommendations come only from my own experience.

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