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Finding a natural solution

Food Wise: A Simple, Flavorful Vegetarian Stuffing

by Olivia Blanco Mullins

Tags: Food Wise, Stuffing, Vegetarian, Olivia Blanco Mullins, recipe,

My vegetarian sister-in-law will be in town this week for Thanksgiving. I am excited to see her (it has been a couple of months since she was here). I am also excited about trying a new vegetarian stuffing, which I won’t be cooking in the turkey, so she can enjoy it too.

leafy_greens_fennelI have two issues to deal with: In order for Laura to eat the stuffing, I can’t use turkey or any turkey drippings, and I cannot stand celery, so this omnipresent stuffing vegetable won’t be part of my ingredient list. My solution is to use vegetable stock to moisten the bread stuffing and to skip the celery altogether, although leeks would probably be a nice substitution as they too add a nice crunch and color. 

Photo By meganpru/Courtesy flickr
Fennel, also known as anise, has a licorice taste. 

With this in mind, I find myself, again, making my own recipe, which I am never afraid to do. I found a recipe for a mushroom stuffing that calls for crimini mushrooms, fennel and ham. It is simple enough, so I am getting rid of the ham and adding garlic so the stuffing is more flavorful.

To make my stuffing a little greener I am thinking of tossing some arugula, also known as rocket, at the very end. When I was in Rome years ago, I had a very simple margherita pizza topped with an arugula salad. It gave the pizza a great flavor, and I think it will do the same to my stuffing.

This is the recipe I have come up with. I don’t have pictures of the finished product, but I will post some next week.

-10-12 cups of cubed, dried French bread
-8 ounces of crimini or button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
-1 bulb of fennel, sliced thin
-1 onion, peeled, sliced thin
-3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
-1 cup of vegetable stock
-2 tablespoons of fresh thyme
-1 tablespoon of salt
-1 tablespoon of pepper
-Olive oil

If you want to use the arugula, you can start with a couple of handfuls. This is the first time for me to do this, so I don’t really have an amount for you. Use your instincts and keep in mind that arugula has a strong flavor, so you don’t want to overpower the rest of the stuffing.


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In a large skillet sauté the garlic and onion in a little bit of oil over medium heat. When they are translucent and getting soft, add the fennel, then the mushrooms, salt, pepper and thyme. You want the onions to be soft and the fennel tender, but not slimy; the mushrooms should be soft. 

Place the bread cubes in a large bowl. Add the vegetable mixture and the stock and mix well. Pour into a medium baking dish and cook for 30 minutes until it is brown at the top and warm throughout.

Toss the arugula and serve warm.

This recipe is simple and so flavorful that I don’t think anyone will miss the turkey sausage and apricot stuffing I made last year, which was similar to this apple sausage one. Best of all, my sister-in-law won’t have to skip the stuffing this year.

How do you accommodate family members with food allergies or other special requests during the holidays?