We all have our favorite winter dishes and mine is stuffing — or dressing, technically, since I don’t stuff it in a turkey.
The classic flavors lull me into feeling like I’m in white-capped mountains, even when I live in sunny San Diego and could pull off a Thanksgiving beach barbecue if I were so inclined. Rosemary, sage, thyme, dried cranberries and a little sausage work winter-wonderland magic for me.
My oldest daughter is also a fan. Valentine is also gluten intolerant. For several years, I simply made my holiday dressing with dried gluten-free bread cubes, but we wanted other options that didn’t involve fussing with gluten-free breads whose texture can be unpredictable in a dressing recipe. This Wild Rice Holiday Stovetop Dressing fits the bill.
It has all the classic taste of my grandma’s holiday stuffing, and none of the gluten, so my daughter can enjoy it. Plus, it’s pulled together in under 30 minutes in one pan on the stove. Easy. (You can also use brown rice if you prefer, which will add a little extra fiber and protein, but note that the cooking time will be longer.)
One link of turkey sausage is enough to add flavor and richness, so this dish is comforting without being overly heavy. Note, you can omit sausage entirely and use vegetable broth to make this dish vegetarian. Typical holiday herbs — rosemary, thyme and sage — can be dried or fresh, so use whatever you are buying for the rest of your meal.
Cubed butternut squash adds a touch of welcomed color, sweetness and vitamins — feel free to change up the squash/rice ratio and add more if you want a more veg-leaning side. A small sprinkling of dried cranberries and pecans complete the holiday touch. But, feel free to serve this dish anytime — it’s a perfect complement to any grilled or roasted meat or fish.
WILD RICE STOVETOP DRESSING
Start to finish: 25 minutes
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 link sweet Italian turkey sausage, casing removed
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup butternut squash cubes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage, or 1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, or 2 teaspoons fresh chopped rosemary
1 1/4 cup wild rice blend (usually wild rice and basmati mixed)
3/4 cup chicken or turkey broth
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
salt and pepper
Cook the sausage in the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat, until meat is golden, about 4 minutes. Add in the celery and onion and cook until softened, about 3 more minutes. Add the garlic, squash cubes, herbs and rice blend and saute for 1 minute. Add the broth and water, and raise temperature to high and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, stir the rice once, and then cover and reduce the temperature to low and allow to simmer gently, covered tightly, for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, toss in the dried cranberries (quickly covering again) and let sit covered tightly for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, stir, taste for seasoning, add toasted pecans and serve.
Nutrition information per serving: 314 calories; 80 calories from fat; 9 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 4 mg cholesterol; 554 mg sodium; 58 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 8 g sugar; 7 g protein.
Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook “Supermarket Healthy.”