Decadent food is so much a part of the Thanksgiving holiday that to try to prepare too “healthy” a spread would most likely result in a frustrated and disappointed table of guests, and who would want that? Not I, for one. So let's just agree right off the bat that with this post, we're not going to be talking about how to “lighten up” this much delighted in and celebrated holiday meal. No, let's just say that we're going to try to find a way to blend a couple of healthy ingredients into the already-existing-decadence, and in a way that not even a shred of attention will be on the fact that there's something “good” for your guests hidden inside. Sound like a plan?
I would say that one of my husband’s and my favorite side dishes on the Turkey Day table would have to be the dressing (or “stuffing”) casserole. We just love it. In our opinion, no scrumptious Thanksgiving holiday spread would be complete without it, and in our family circle, we're pretty much expected to bring my famous Golden, Torn-Bread Dressing as our contribution to the annual family get-together, this year being no exception. But with so many people now looking for delicious yet gluten-free recipes to grace their special spreads, I got to thinking that I'd also like to add another dressing to my repertoire, and create one with a couple of healthy, special ingredients to bump the beneficial-for-you aspects up just a little, while leaving the gluten out. Now, a lot of you are frequently looking for new recipes and ways to use quinoa, but did you also know that wild rice (not actually a rice but an aquatic grass related to rice) is also chock-full of some great-for-you stuff, too? Wild rice is not only gorgeously unique with its earthy brown color and nutty flavor, but it's also gluten-free, has twice as much protein as brown rice, and contains 30 times more antioxidants than white rice — plus it's lower in calories and higher in fiber. So to me, it seemed like a no-brainer to put these two “food powerhouses” together, and include them in a cozy and comforting turkey day dressing complete with spicy sausage, roasted chestnuts, shiitakes, leeks and dried cherries. It's just adding a little extra goodness to the already-existing decadence.
So what do you say, shall we all just agree to indulge in our Thanksgiving Day feasts until our bellies are full this year, and enjoy ourselves with our loved ones until our heart's are content? This Gluten-Free Quinoa & Wild Rice Dressing will be a heavenly holiday side dish to serve alongside all of the other rich, savory and sweet offerings on your table, and no one besides you needs to be the wiser that you're actually adding some healthy benefits to your guests with this one. So let's take some pleasure in all that life has to offer this special season, and be grateful for all of the goodness, the love and the great food that we have in our lives.
Taste what's good and pass it on.
Gluten-Free Quinoa & Wild Rice Dressing (Stuffing) with Spicy Sausage, Shiitake Mushrooms, Leeks, Roasted Chestnuts and Dried Cherries, with a touch of Asiago
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• 2 cups cooked wild rice (*see note below)
• 2 cups cooked quinoa (**see note below)
• 12 ounces gluten-free white bread (day old and a bit stale), cubed (I used “Udi's” brand)
• Olive oil
• 1 link spicy or sweet Italian sausage, casing removed (***see note below)
• 1 leek, white part quartered and thinly sliced
• 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
• 1 clove garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 1/3 cup grated Asiago cheese, divided use
• 1/3 cup dried cherries
• 1/3 cup roasted and peeled chestnuts, chopped
• 1 tablespoon chopped, flat-leaf parsley
• 1 ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
• ¾ teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• 6 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter
• 2 cups chicken stock
• 2 eggs, whisked
*To prepare this amount of wild rice, use ¾ cups uncooked wild rice with 3 cups water, bring to the boil and cover, then lower temp and simmer for 45 minutes; drain and lightly rinse, then allow to cool slightly.
**To prepare this amount of quinoa, use ¾ cups uncooked quinoa with 1 ½ cups water, bring to boil and cover, then lower temp and simmer for 15-20 minutes; cool slightly.
***If you're highly sensitive to gluten, then look for a brand that specifically is certified “gluten-free” on the label; sausage is gluten-free—however, it is sometimes processed on equipment shared with other items that contain gluten so a certified label helps to insure against that.
****This recipe can be prepared ahead of time and stored, covered, in the fridge until ready to bake and serve.
-Preheat the oven to 375°, and mist a large baking dish/casserole with cooking spray.
-To a large bowl, add the cooked wild rice and quinoa, along with the cubed gluten-free bread; set aside for a moment.
-Place a large, non-stick pan over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 1-2 tablespoons of the olive oil; once hot, crumble in the spicy sausage, and allow it to partly brown for a minute or so; next, add in the leeks and the mushrooms, and saute those along with the sausage for about 5 minutes, or until the sausage is cooked through and the leeks and mushrooms are tender; add in the garlic, and saute just until aromatic.
-Add the sausage/leek/mushroom/garlic mixture to the rice/quinoa/bread mixture.
-Next, add to that 1 cup of the Asiago cheese, along with the remainder of the ingredients through the black pepper, and toss the ingredients to combine them.
-Add into this dressing mixture the melted butter, the chicken stock and the whisked eggs, and using your hands, mix these ingredients into the dressing mixture until everything is well combined; turn the dressing out into the prepared baking/casserole dish, and sprinkle over top the remaining 1/3 cup of the Asiago cheese.
-Bake the dressing, covered with foil, for about 30 minutes; then, uncover, and bake for another 25 minutes, or until golden-brown and slightly puffed; allow to rest for about 5-10 minutes, then serve.