Traditional bread stuffing is something I looked forward to as a kid, more than anything else on my mom’s Thanksgiving Day table. Even dessert.
But now that I’ve had the opportunity to expand my palette, I’m ready to move beyond bread. If I’m going to stuff myself more than I normally would on this day of thanks and togetherness with my family, I want to get a little more out of it. Don’t you?
That’s why I’ve ditched the bread for wild rice, almond and mushroom stuffing.
I know bucking tradition doesn’t always go over well, especially on holidays, but this is one trade up where you get so much more.
Firstly, you’re not sacrificing taste… you’ll have to try it yourself to see, but take it from a former bread stuffing addict — this is better. And the texture is very satisfying too.
Secondly, you get a huge nutrition boost…
Wild rice is great protein source — 24 grams in one cup — and a great source of magnesium, a vital nutrient that can protect you from diabetes and hypertension that most of us are woefully deficient in.
Next… mushrooms are a miraculous superfood you can eat to power up your immune system. I’m not just talking cold and flu protection — they also fight cancer in a number of ways. As mentioned, they support the immune system’s ability to fight off developing tumors. But they also provide powerful antioxidant support, neutralizing free radicals — those aberrant molecules that injure cells and even damage DNA.
And last but not least, amazing almonds… an almond study took a look at how 250 daily calories of almonds affected overweight people who were trying to avoid heart disease. This six week study found that the almonds helped people slim their waistlines and lose inflammatory belly fat that has been linked to heart problems.
So I hope I’ve convinced you to bring this healthier stuffing to your family’s table. You may be surprised at just how thankful they are…
- 1½ quarts chicken stock, turkey stock, or vegetable stock
- 2 cups wild rice
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion or 4 shallots, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ¾ pound mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
- 1 cup chopped celery
- ⅓ cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
- ⅓ cup dry sherry
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage (to taste)
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Bring the stock to a boil in a large saucepan or stock pot, and add the wild rice and salt to taste. When the liquid returns to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer 40 minutes, until the rice is tender and has begun to splay. Drain through a strainer, and set aside.
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet, and add the onion or shallots. Cook, stirring often, until tender, about five minutes for onions or three minutes for shallots. Add a generous pinch of salt and the garlic. Cook until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute, and add the mushrooms and the celery. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms have softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the rice and the remaining ingredients. Cook, stirring, until the sherry has evaporated. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool before stuffing your turkey, or place in an oiled baking dish and cover. Warm for 20 to 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven.
Yield: Enough for a 14- to 18-pound turkey.
Advance preparation: You can make this pilaf a day or two ahead and keep it in the refrigerator.