It’s November, which means Thanksgiving is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. I don’t have many fond memories of Thanksgiving growing up as me and my family moved to the States during my fourth grade year. One thing I do remember, though, is my mom cooking up a Korean feast and for the children, her ordering some of the traditional Thanksgiving fixings from La Madeleine - two meals in one…every year. And that’s when our (the children’s) love for dressing/stuffing began.
It wasn’t until after I got married that I rose to the occasion and boycotted La Madeleine’s assistance. As dressing/stuffing is THE single most important dish in my family, it’s what I spend the most time pondering over every year. This year, I decided to take a risk. I’m going to make a meatless version and serve it to a crowd who thinks that dressing and sausage go together like two peas in a pod. I don’t worry, though, as I’ve already won over the heart of my husband (who once belonged to that carnivorous crowd) with this vegetarian dish.
Instead of ground sausage, I invited cauliflower to the party! And humor me here, but once you pulse it in the food processor to a size resembling rice and dust it with a little poultry seasoning, it can somewhat look like crumbled sausage…no? Not only does it amp up the nutritional value of the dish, but cauliflower also naturally provides moisture so that you don’t have to use as much stock or other liquids. Just 1 cup of stock + ½ cup buttermilk was enough. Now buttermilk is not necessary, but I appreciate the extra creaminess that it adds. If you choose to leave it out, then just add more stock. (But you may not need to. It all depends on how dry/wet you like your dressing to be.)
As the actual day of Thanksgiving can get a bit hairy (especially when it comes to cooking), you can totally make this ahead of time and refrigerate overnight. Just hold off on the liquids until ready to bake.
When you take that first bite, I’m pretty sure you won’t be missing the meat at all. This dish has all the familiar flavors plus a little added texture and sweetness from the corn. Throw in the umami from the mushrooms, the earthiness of the cauliflower, and the undeniable aroma of sage and you’ve got yourself one stunner of a side dish. Hope this dressing makes its way onto your Thanksgiving table!
Vegetarian Cauliflower Cornbread Dressing with Mushrooms
- 5 cups of 1 inch cubes of cornbread (can make your own or use premade)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups coarsely chopped cauliflower
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup corn kernels (frozen or fresh)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt and pepper
- 1 cup low-sodium vegetable stock
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup buttermilk (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350. Spread cornbread evenly onto a baking sheet and bake, tossing occasionally, until dry but not hard, about 10-15 minutes. Cool. Set aside in a large mixing bowl. Butter 9x13 in. baking dish and set aside.
- Prepare cauliflower: Wash, remove core and leaves, chop into florets. Working in batches, pulse florets in a food processor or blender until the pieces are the size of a grain of rice (do not over-process!). Pour 2 cups in a large bowl and toss with poultry seasoning.
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onions, celery and sauté until lightly golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in corn, cauliflower, mushrooms, sage, and parsley. Sauté for another 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add mixture to bowl with cornbread. (make ahead: cover and refrigerate overnight).
- In another bowl, whisk together stock, eggs, and buttermilk. Pour over the dressing mixture and combine well. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes.