Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Quinoa Stuffing

My cooking club met for our November get-together over the weekend, and it was such a wonderful time, as usual. The wine and the laughter flowed, and we enjoyed a truly delicious meal. This month's theme was Thanksgiving, but not just any Thanksgiving dish; we had to make a new twist on a classic. We had harissa green beans, loaded mashed potato casserole, and salted caramel mascarpone pumpkin cheesecake (OMG), among other delicious dishes. My contribution was this quinoa stuffing, which was universally enjoyed.

I'm a huge fan of stuffing; in fact, I think it's probably my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. And I have to be honest: This particular stuffing would never replace the traditional, all-bread version of stuffing on my Thanksgiving table. But that doesn't mean it wasn't absolutely delicious. It's prepared just like you'd make a traditional stuffing, but quinoa is added to it before baking. The recipe can easily be adapted to make it vegetarian or even completely vegan. The quinoa gives the stuffing a great texture and a nutritional boost that means you can feel good about eating it. And on a holiday when practically everyone overeats on all kinds of fattening yumminess, feeling good about eating even one aspect of the meal is no small thing!

Quinoa Stuffing
adapted from About.com

1 cup quinoa
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
4 ounces sliced button mushrooms
1 rib of celery, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
6 slices dried (or lightly toasted) bread, cubed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1. In a medium saucepan, simmer quinoa in 2 1/4 cups chicken stock with bay leaves until done, about 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves and discard, and set the quinoa aside.

2. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.

3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, mushrooms, celery, garlic, thyme sprigs, sage, and salt and pepper. Add white wine and simmer until reduced. Discard thyme sprigs.

4. Reduce heat to low and add cubed bread and nuts, stirring to combine well. Add chicken stock 1/2 cup at a time until bread is well moistened. Add reserved quinoa and gently toss to combine well.

5. Transfer to prepared casserole dish and bake uncovered for 40 minutes.