At the holidays, when just one carbohydrate dense dish won’t do, add vegan stuffing to the mix.
This stuffing is loaded with celery, onions, and carrots. The vegetables give it variety and a pop of color amongst the beige.
Vegan stuffing with chestnuts
Along with savory spices and vegetable broth, it has loads of flavor and nary an animal product in the mix.
I also like to add roasted and peeled chestnuts to the stuffing for added bite.
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
I was reading recently that most of us have never roasted chestnuts, despite how popular Christmas music makes this pastime seem.
Up until 11 years ago, I’d never even tasted them.
While chestnuts make most of us think of crackling Christmas records, it takes me back to my honeymoon.
A couple of months after we got married, David and I traveled around Europe.
One of our favorite stops on the trip was our visit to Zürich, Switzerland. Sellers stood outside, roasting chestnuts in big iron pots lined with charcoal.
They’d serve the chestnuts in paper sleeves with two pouches. One pouch held the fresh, warm roasted chestnuts, while the other was empty and ready for discarding shells.
It was so quaint and warming, standing in the brisk air, smelling the nutty chestnuts cooking, and cracking away at the peels as we walked.
After we returned home from our honeymoon, I purchased fresh chestnuts at the grocery store once they showed up during the holiday season.
(It’s interesting the things you notice once you know what to look for. Somehow before then, I’d never even seen them there.)
I’ve roasted chestnuts several times, but these days, I prefer to go with the kind in vacuum packaging that have already been cooked.
Chestnuts can be wily since they are rounded on one side and flat-ish on the other. Plus, breaking through the tough shell with a knife can be tricky.
(If you don’t score them with a knife, they’ll explode in the oven.)
Trader Joe’s sells roasted and peeled chestnuts in the refrigerated section in vacuum packaging. And I’ve seen them elsewhere sold in jars. I’d recommend either of those options for this recipe.
Although, if you want to roast & peel your own, go for it! Get directions on how to roast chestnuts here.
No chestnuts where you live? No problem.
If you can’t find chestnuts or they are out of season at the time you’re making this vegan stuffing, no worries. You can simply omit them or add some chopped walnuts instead.
(You may not want the same amount of walnuts, since walnuts have a stronger flavor than chestnuts and are a bit more dense. I’d recommend starting by doing half and working up from there, depending on your preferences.)
How to make vegan stuffing
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Then sauté onions, garlic, celery, and carrots in a skillet until translucent and fragrant.
Add chopped chestnuts to the skillet and cook for a couple minutes more. Turn the heat off and set aside.
Combine a pound of dried bread cubes with mixture from skillet.
Then slowly pour vegetable broth and spices over the bread cubes. Occasionally stir the bread cubes, so that the cubes get evenly coated.
You want the cubes to be moistened, but not wet or mushy. There shouldn’t be any liquid at the bottom of the bowl.
So if it looks like the bread cubes are getting overly wet, stop there. However, if the cubes look too dry after all of the liquid has been poured, add a few more splashes of water or broth.
Pour the bread cubes into an oiled baking dish and spread them evenly across it.
Cover the dish in aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes more uncovered, so that the cubes can get a crispiness to the top.
By the way, with a couple tweaks, this stuffing also works well in vegan stuffing muffins!