Fig and Almond Bread Stuffing with Fennel

25 02 2010
I keep finding recipes that I used at Thanksgiving time. I thought I could wait to post this until closer to Thanksgiving, but then I thought I might lose it. Also, why is it that we all love a good stuffing, but we only eat it at Thanksgiving time? And actually it is technically not a stuffing, but a dressing, since I am not actually stuffing anything.  So here is a vegetarian stuffing that you might enjoy even in these colder months for something hearty. You could serve this with a side vegetable and a salad and be perfectly satisfied. I just love the hint of fennel in this stuffing, a beautiful mild licorice flavor.

One large loaf of peasant bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

5 oz. sliced almonds (1 1/2 cups)

12  oz. dried Black Mission figs (2 cups), stemmed and coarsely chopped

2 tbsp chopped sage

2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

6 tbsp unsalted butter

1 onion, finely chopped

3 celery ribs, finely chopped

2 large carrots, finely chopped

1 fennel bulb, cored and finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed

8 large eggs, lightly beatened

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the bread on a large baking sheet and toast for about 15 minutes, stirring once, until dry. Spread the almonds on another baking sheet and toast until lightly browned. Let the almonds cool, then lightly crush them. Transfer the bread and almonds to a large bowl and add the figs, sage and parsley.

In a large skillet, melt the 6 tablespoons of butter. Add the onion, celery, carrots, chopped fennel bulb, garlic, and fennel seeds and cook over med-high heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened. Let cool, then add the sauteed vegetables to the bread mixture. Stir in the eggs and stock and season with salt and pepper.

Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish. Spread the stuffing mixture in the dish and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, until heated through. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes longer, until the top is lightly browned. Serve.




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