Every year, I volunteer to bring a few dishes to take to my family’s Thanksgiving celebration, and every year, I find myself feverishly scrolling through Pinterest to find something new and better to make than what I showed up with the previous year.
This apple walnut stuffing is a good option, and if I didn’t have so many vegetarians in my family, it totally would be on my Thanksgiving menu.
I made this Thanksgiving side dish in September when it was 85 degrees outside, and the smell of it baking in the oven instantly put me in a holiday mood. It tasted as good as I’d hoped, which always is exciting.
For my breads, I used a baguette, olive oil bread and a country boule. I have watched my mom make stuffing for many years, so I know that you’re supposed to cut up the cubes ahead of time, put them on a baking sheet and then let the bread dry out for a couple days.
Here’s the thing, though—I stuck my baking sheet in the oven, forgot it was there, and then started preheating the oven to bake the stuffing. My bread cubes became toast, and I worried everything was ruined. But by the time I mixed the toasty cubes with the other stuffing ingredients, they softened up without becoming mushy. A quick Google search showed me I did it right and that people routinely toast their bread if they don’t have enough time to get it stale the natural way, so that turned out to be a happy accident.
Other notes: I didn’t use all of my medium onion because even after it cooked down, I still felt like there was way more onion than sausage. I grabbed a pack of Bob Evans breakfast patties for this recipe because you don’t need a whole roll of sausage. I also added in a cup of dried cherries, which added a nice tartness and chewiness. And I did not brush the top of the stuffing with butter or garnish it with extra parsley, and I personally don’t think anyone in The Canton Repository office missed it.
I loved the flavors and textures of this dish. I ate it for brunch once we finished photographing it, and that might sound strange, but it worked well.
Since it’s the November issue and Thanksgiving isn’t complete without tons of food, we expanded this month’s recipes to include an alternative to turkey and an extra side dish for those who don’t eat meat.
Get your ovens ready and start baking for the holiday that we’re all thankful for.
—Alison Matas / Photo by Julie Botos
Apple Walnut Stuffing
3/4 lb mild ground pork sausage
1 medium sweet onion
2 medium Granny Smith apples
1 cup celery
2 large garlic cloves
1 cup toasted walnuts
1/4 cup fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
12 cups assorted bread cubes
2 1/2 cups low-sodium turkey or chicken broth
1/4 cup melted butter
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Sauté sausage and onion in a large skillet over medium heat 6 minutes or until sausage is no longer pink.
3. Add apples and next two ingredients; sauté 5 more minutes or until apples are tender.
4. Stir in walnuts and next five ingredients.
5. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool 10 minutes.
6. Fold in bread and broth until well-blended.
7. Spoon into a well-greased 3-quart or 13-by-9-inch baking pan.
8. Brush top generously with butter.
9. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until top is crusty and brown.
10. Garnish, if desired.
If you’re cooking for vegetarians at Thanksgiving, it’s hard to resist the stuffed-pumpkin idea. The vegetarians have their main dish, everyone else has another side, and all is right with the world.
As tempting as it is to stuff a single large pumpkin, though, the degree of difficulty rises along with the poundage. A jack-o’-lantern-size specimen can require as much oven space as a turkey, and if its flesh gets too tender to hold the filling, well, you’ve got a disaster on your hands—or table.
It’s easier than ever to find small sugar or pie pumpkins and other winter squash, and they’re just the ticket for this preparation. Choose ones that are about 2 pounds or so, and each one can serve two guests, if not more. You can even use a variety of colors, for a striking presentation.
Next question: What to stuff it with?
I was more than intrigued when I spotted a recipe for Biryani Stuffed Pumpkins in a new cookbook, “The Vegetable: Recipes That Celebrate Nature” by Caroline Griffiths and Vicki Valsamis (Smith Street Books). The idea of using small pumpkins as vessels to cook one of my favorite Indian dishes seemed downright inspired.
The recipe is worth making just for the chance to fill your kitchen with the swoon-inducing aromas produced by the heady spices and other aromatics, which you combine with pistachios and dried cherries, then roast inside the pumpkin cavities. But it gets even better. You scrape out that mixture, along with a good amount of pumpkin flesh, stir in yogurt and then layer it all back into the pumpkins with basmati rice. Sprinkle the top layer with saffron-infused water, bake again, and just try not to dig in before these beauties even make it onto a platter.
It’s mostly hands-off work, but if you prefer you can divide the job, roasting the pumpkins the first time a day (or days) before the Thanksgiving crunch. When you stuff and finish them closer to serving time, that show-stopping aroma will return, I promise.
— Joe Yonan / The Washington Post
Biryani Stuffed Pumpkins
MAKE AHEAD: The ginger-spiced pistachios can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. The pumpkins can be initially baked with the spiced pistachios and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Bring both to room temperature before proceeding.
For the spiced pistachio mix:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger root
1 green chile (jalapeño or serrano pepper), stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
2 bay leaves
3 small cinnamon sticks
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons salt
For the pumpkins:
Four 2 1/4-pound pumpkins or other round winter squash of your choice (preferably kabocha squash)
Large pinch saffron threads
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt (may substitute low-fat or nonfat)
2 1/4 cups uncooked white basmati rice
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. For the spiced pistachio mix: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger; cook until very fragrant and soft, 2 minutes. Stir in the green chile, pistachios, dried cherries or cranberries, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, chili powder, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, garam masala and salt; turn off the heat.
2. For the pumpkins: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. Use a large, sharp knife to cut off the tops of the pumpkins; these will serve as lids. Scrape out and discard the seeds, then arrange the pumpkins cut sides up on a large baking sheet. Spoon the spiced pistachio mixture into the pumpkins. Put the lids back on and roast until a skewer easily pierces the flesh, about 1 hour. Let cool slightly.
4. While the pumpkins are roasting, stir together the saffron and water in a small bowl, to steep.
5. Scoop the spiced pistachio filling and most of the pumpkin flesh (leaving at least 1/2 inch wall of flesh around the edges) out into a saucepan. Stir in the yogurt.
6. Fill a medium saucepan three-quarters full of water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Stir in the rice and cook for 5 minutes, then drain in a colander. The rice will not be cooked through.
7. Divide about one-third of the pistachio-pumpkin filling among the pumpkins, followed by one-third of the rice. Repeat twice more, layering the filling and rice in each pumpkin until full, finishing with a layer of rice. Top the rice with knobs of the butter and drizzle with the saffron water.
8. Place the lids back on the pumpkins; roast until the rice is tender and the filling is hot and very fragrant, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Bacon-roasted Pork Tenderloin with Caraway’d Cabbage and Apples
Pork and apples make a fine autumnal pairing—unless that meat is off-limits for you. But before you take a pass on this week’s dish, know that it comes with a non-porky swap.
Here, a minimal amount of prep and one-skillet ease join forces to create a savory and hearty meal. A mummy wrap of bacon keeps this tenderloin moist in a high-heat oven, and the rendered fat and pan juices help flavor the cabbage and apple wedges underneath. The meat’s tender enough to slice right in the pan, as long as there’s a bit of vegetable or fruit cushion underneath.
If pork is not for you, turkey breast fillets and turkey bacon are worthy substitutes that achieve just about the same finished dish. The fillets can be laid in such a way as to even mimic the look of a tenderloin. Try it one way or the other, and you will understand why the pairing has become a classic.
—Bonnie S. Benwick / The Washington Post
4 cloves garlic
1/2 medium head red cabbage
2 medium Gala or Honeycrisp apples
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons caraway seed
Freshly ground black pepper
One 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-pound pork tenderloin (may substitute turkey breast fillets; see variation)
5 strips bacon, preferably thin or center-cut (may substitute turkey bacon; see variation)
11/2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or red wine vinegar
1. Position an oven rack in upper third of the oven; preheat to 450 degrees.
2. Smash the garlic cloves and discard the skins. Cut the head of cabbage into 8 equal wedges. Core the apples, then cut each one into quarters. Toss the garlic, cabbage wedges and apples into a large cast-iron skillet, drizzle with the oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle the caraway seeds over them and season generously with salt and pepper.
3. Season the pork lightly with salt and pepper, then wrap the strips of bacon around it to cover as much meat as possible, tucking or wrapping the bacon ends underneath. Place it atop the ingredients in the skillet. Roast (upper rack) for about 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the meat registers 145 to 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
4. Transfer the meat to a cutting board to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
5. Sprinkle the vinegar over the cabbage and apples (still in the skillet) and toss to coat, mashing and distributing the roasted garlic cloves.
6. Serve the meat warm, with the garlic, cabbage and apples.
VARIATION: Buy 1 1/4 pounds (3 pieces) of skinless turkey breast fillets. Lay them in an overlapping line so the thicker part of each fillet just sits atop the thinner part of the next fillet. Wrap in 4 strips of turkey bacon (you won’t need 5, as directed above), tucking the ends under the fillets. Carefully transfer to the pan and roast (upper rack) for 25 minutes (170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), or a bit longer if you want the turkey bacon to crisp up further.