Herbed Wild Rice and Quinoa Stuffing
Welcome to November, where it’s all Thanksgiving, all the time! Well, at least around here, that’s is. I’ve got lots of Thanksgiving recipes planned for this month, and I’m excited to kick it off with this recipe for Herbed Wild Rice & Quinoa Stuffing.
But first, can I complain? I am SO NOT READY for winter. I didn’t really realize it until the time change yesterday. I thought I would relish an extra hour, and that part’s nice and all, but it gets dark SO EARLY. And it’s rainy and miserable out there. It’s November 3 and I’m already over it. I have no words of wisdom for myself; all I can do is complain right now. I’m deflated. I want to be outsiiiiiddeee in the suuuunnnn.
Okay, snapping out of it. Sharing about stuffing. Stuffing is a good thing about winter, right? Along with myriad other things. I’m just being a baby.
Stuffing is indeed one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving. Buttery, crunchy chunks of bread – what’s not to love? But sometimes it’s nice to shake things up a bit. So I thought I’d create a rice-based stuffing with all of the traditional stuffing flavors we love. Something that’s a little more dense and hearty – a vegetarian (and vegan!) stuffing that’s naturally gluten-free, too. Why not cover all of the dietary bases while also making something everyone will no doubt clamor for? That was my goal here.
We have a wild rice blend – I used a half-and-half blend of wild rice and brown rice. And quinoa – a nice bit of hearty protein added to the mix so that this stuffing can also double as a main dish for those that prefer to skip the turkey.
The rice and quinoa simmer with tart apples, vegetables, veggie broth, and a splash of wine on the stovetop until tender. Then in go a few handfuls of herbs, dried cranberries, and crunchy pecans. I have to give a shout-out to Michelle, here. She is my hairstylist and friend, and I told her I wasn’t quite happy enough with this recipe. She suggested dried cranberries for texture, and it totally did the trick. Michelle, you rock! 🙂 Plus, she fixed my hair. Literally. (Me to the toddler: “I have to go get my hair fixed.” Toddler: “Mommy’s hair is broken!” Which it pretty much was.)
So after stirring in those bits of deliciousness, you scoop it all into a casserole dish and bake. The flavors meld and bits of rice on the tops and edges get all irresistibly crunchy. Just like a good stuffing should.
It’s almost enough to make me forget about the dreary weather. Almost.
Herbed Wild Rice & Quinoa Stuffing
Specked with fresh herbs, apples, cranberries, and pecans, everyone will love this flavor-filled stuffing – and nobody will guess its little secret: it’s vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free! Plus, the addition of protein-rich quinoa gives this hearty stuffing main-dish cred – perfect for those that prefer to skip the turkey.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil + more for greasing the baking dish + more for drizzling over the top
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
- 2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste
- 1/2 cup dry-ish white wine (I like Sauv Blanc for both cooking and drinking; Chardonnay would work well too)
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 2 cups uncooked wild rice blend (I prefer a blend of 50% wild rice and 50% brown rice)
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed well
- 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
- 1 cup raw pecans, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley + 1/4 cup more for topping after baking
- 1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, minced
- Place a large pot over medium heat. Add the oil. When hot, add the onions and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the apples, garlic, thyme, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for one more minute. Stir in wine, then add broth. Bring to a boil. Stir in the wild rice blend and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, covered, until the rice is tender, about 35 minutes. Stir in the quinoa and cover again. Cook until the quinoa is tender, about 15 more minutes. Stir in the cranberries, pecans, 1/2 cup parsley, and sage. Taste and add additional salt if desired. Remove from heat.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub a large (9-inch x 13-inch is best) casserole dish with a little olive oil. Lightly scoop the rice mixture into the casserole dish, lightly mounding it instead of mashing it down.
- Bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with remaining chopped parsley. Serve.