Granny Smith Apples and Acorn Squash lead the way in this Easy Fall Harvest Turkey Stuffing. Add to that some Chopped dates and pine nuts with the usual onions, celery and herbs and this classic side will wow your guests.
These unusual ingredients make this baked stuffing a delicious side for your holiday turkey and if you use vegetable stock, a great option for any vegetarian guests you may be hosting.
What Is Stuffing?
Stuffing, dressing or filling as it's often called, can be as basic as lightly seasoned and herby bread, or as elaborate as oyster filling.
The famous side, named due to the fact that it was literally 'stuffed' inside the meat, has evolved considerably since those early days. As the cooking technique and recipe evolved, so did the recipes name.
In the Southern states the popular term is dressing and the delicious filling is baked in the oven as a casserole. The bread of choice is usually cornbread and sometimes biscuits.
In the Northeast, it's called filling and oysters are often a preferred addition to this popular holiday side. On the West Coast, In San Francisco, sourdough is a popular choice when it comes to making stuffing.
From mussels, clams and crabmeat to wild rice, nuts and dried fruit; everything imaginable has been added to it over the years. My favorite is this fall harvest version full of the seasons freshest bounty!
Originally intended to be stuffed inside the cavity of whatever meat is being roasting, today it is more popular to cook the side separately. This is done to prevent contamination and salmonella poisoning.
As per marketbasketfoods.com the first mention of this technique of cooking meat comes from the cookbook "Apicius de re Coquinaria". The book is a compilation of Roman recipes that are thought to date back to the 1st Century AD and mentions stuffing chicken, pig and rabbit.
As per the cookbook, the earlier stuffings seemed to comprise of nuts, herbs, vegetables, spelt and even internal organs such as brain and liver.
Why Do We Make Stuffing?
The purpose of the stuffing is to keep the meat moist and add to it's flavor. However, around the 1970's the USDA issued a safety warning. Due to the risk of salmonella poisoning, this cooking technique was no longer recommended and baking the stuffing as a casserole became popular instead.
Of course, presentation wise, it looks very pretty to have the stuffing in the meat cavity. However, the two things can easily be cooked separately and presented together during the serving stage.
The Main Components Of Stuffing
Whether we use a store bought mix or make our stuffing from scratch, the basic technique and ingredients of a good stuffing are the same.
- Bread or Grain
From this point onwards the sky's the limit and you can put your creative cooking skills to work and add whatever assortment of meats, vegetables, herbs and other ingredients you can think of and get your hands on.
Some tips to help you make the perfect Stuffing!
1. The bread or grain to vegetables ratio should be 2:1
2. If you want your stuffing firmer add more eggs, if you want it softer add a bit of extra broth.
3. If you like your stuffing on the crispier side try baking it in a sheet pan.
4. Adding the broth is a must as it adds a flavor similar to what it would have been if we had cooked our stuffing inside our meat.
5. Saute the vegetables but cool them a bit before mixing with the bread to prevent it from getting soggy.
6. It's always better to use fresh herbs if you can get some.
7. If you need your "filling" to be gluten free try cornbread as the base! It's a Southern Tradition and tastes delicious! In fact you should try it sometime even you can handle gluten!
For best results use slightly stale bread. If your bread is fresh, bake it in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. I like to have all my ingredients prepped and ready before I start cooking. This recipe is quick and easy so it's best to have everything ready and on hand.
Melt the butter and saute the fruit and vegetables. The butter may seem like alot but the bread will absorb it very quickly. Any less and the stuffing will be too dry.
Saute till the ingredients are slightly wilted and translucent. Set aside to cool a bit.
Once at room temperature, add the mixture along with all the other ingredients to a casserole dish and put in the oven to bake. The broth will help moisten the bread and the eggs will help the mixture to set. Think of this as a savory bread pudding!
This stuffing has all the best flavors of fall! The sweetness of the dates and butternut squash perfectly balance the tanginess of the green apples. The pine nuts on the other hand have a lightly sweet and subtle flavor and add a nice depth to the dressing, with their mild taste and slight crunch.
I hope you decide to try this recipe. Please don't forget to rate and comment below to let me know what you thought!
Easy Fall Harvest Stuffing
- 4 cups stale bread (SEE NOTES)
- ½ cup celery
- ¼ cup yellow onion
- ½ cup acorn squash
- ½ cup granny smith apple
- ¼ cup green onions
- ½ stick butter
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp rosemary (SEE NOTES)
- ½ tsp thyme (SEE NOTES)
- ½ tsp parsley (SEE NOTES)
- 1 eggs
- ¼ cup dates
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 1 cups broth (SEE NOTES)
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and grease your baking dish.
- Chop the onion, celery, squash, green apple and green onions.
- Melt the butter in a sauce pan and saute all of the above for 5 minutes till they're slightly wilted and you can smell the aroma of all the ingredients. Set aside till needed (SEE NOTES).
- Roughly tear your bread into pieces and sprinkle with the salt, pepper and herbs.
- Beat the eggs and add them to the bread mixture, stirring to mix well.
- Add the dates, pine nuts and broth and mix.
- Add the sautéed mixture of fruit and vegetables and stir in.
- Put in an ovenproof dish and bake in the oven for 30 minutes and serve.