For vegetarians and those with allergies, Thanksgiving stuffing is often a source of frustration. What could be a satisfying side is often cooked in the bird, or else made with chicken stock, eggs, or dairy. Not this Apple and Fennel Challah Stuffing. The recipe relies on vegetable broth, and is baked on its own - a move that not only makes reheating easier, but that's also much safer than cooking it in the turkey. Want to make it truly equal-opportunity? Start with an egg-free water challah.
Make It a Meal: Who says stuffing is a once-a-year dish? If you've got leftover challah on your hands, use it in this recipe (it's easily halved if you're not serving a crowd - just bake in a 9x9-inch or 2 quart baking dish). Serve with a Thanksgiving-inspired menu featuring Persian Roast Chicken, this easy homemade Cranberry and Pear Chutney, and a side of scrumptious Green Beans with Pecans and Date Syrup.
Ingredient Tip: Choose firm, sweet-tart apple varieties for the best flavor. Gala, Pink Lady, Mutsu, or Fuji are all good choices.
- 1 large loaf challah, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 10 cups challah cubes)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 1 large onion, peeled, trimmed and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 medium bulbs fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 2 large stalks celery, trimmed and sliced
- 2 medium apples, cored and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
- zest of 1 lemon, preferably organic
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- Sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Oil a 9x13x2-inch baking dish, or similarly-sized (3 to 4 quart) casserole dish. Line 2 large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the challah cubes between the baking sheets. Drizzle the bread with a little olive oil, toss with clean hands, and spread evenly into a single layer. Bake in the preheated oven, turning once or twice while cooking, until dry and toasted, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool, but leave the oven on.
In a large skillet or chefs pan set over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onion, garlic, fennel, and celery, and saute until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add apple and continue to saute until warmed through, about 5 minutes more. Stir in the sage and lemon zest and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Place the toasted challah cubes in a large bowl. Add the sauteed vegetables and toss to coat. Pour the vegetable broth evenly over the mixture and stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired.
Pour the stuffing mixture into the prepared baking dish and smooth the top. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and bake for 10 to 20 minutes more, or until the top is golden, and the stuffing reaches your preferred consistency.