Vegetarian Thanksgiving Stuffing

This is the stuffing my (mostly) vegetarian family has each year for Thanksgiving. With cornbread and pecans, celery and plenty of mushrooms, it’s almost always the favorite dish on the table.

2 cups pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
3 medium onions, chopped (6 cups)
2 tbs olive oil
5 stalks celery, chopped (2 cups)
2 1/2 lbs mushrooms—button or crimini—chopped
6 cups sourdough bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 loaf cornbread (see recipe below), cubed and crumbled a bit
2 5-oz cans water chestnuts, coarsely chopped
2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten
optional: dried cranberries, chestnuts

Toast the pecans in a dry pan on medium high temperature until warm and toasty, but make sure not to burn (about 10 minutes). Set aside.

In a large pan or Dutch oven, sauté the onions in olive oil over medium high heat. When soft but not brown, add the celery and the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms have softened, stirring to make sure the mixture cooks evenly.

In a large bowl (really large bowl), mix the sourdough bread and the cornbread. Add the nuts, and the onion/celery/mushroom mixture. Add the chopped water chestnuts, salt, and pepper.

Mix stuffing throughly, then add egg (and cranberries, if using). Bake in a greased baking dish at 350° for 30 minutes or until the edges have begun to brown just the slightest bit.

While it is possible to use a different cornbread recipe—or even store-bought cornbread, as I did one year—this is the best recipe to use. The store-bought version I used once was far too sweet and had pieces of real corn, which was all wrong for this recipe. I usually make the cornbread the day before.

(from Moosewood Cookbook, by Mollie Katzen)
1/4 honey
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup unbleached white flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbs melted butter

Preheat the oven to 425°

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Whisk together the egg, add the buttermilk and honey. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and add melted butter. Mix well. Bake in an 8-inch buttered dish until the edges begin to brown and a knife or toothpick inserted in the middle comes clean (about 20 minutes).