Thanksgiving is such a nice holiday. There are no gifts to buy, no full weeks of parties to attend ahead of time and the best part…it’s a whole day centered on cooking, eating and spending time with family. My favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is the side dishes. I seriously don’t think I would be disappointed if there was no turkey on the table at all. However, take away the mashed potatoes and stuffing and to me you have ruined thanksgiving. Stuffing is probably my favorite side dish.
I love all the buttery carb filled goodness! One of my good friends and I always talked about how easy it would be to make stuffing as a side for any dinner, but neither of us actually did it, because it would be pretty indulgent for just a normal meal. To circumvent this dilemma, I set out to make a more balanced, healthier stuffing. What I came up with is tasty enough to serve for the big Thanksgiving meal, but healthy and easy enough to justify making anytime.
I decided to use quinoa in place of the usual bread. Quinoa is an amazing super-food. It is considered a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids necessary in our diet. Plus, it’s packed with other nutrients. I also used sweet potatoes, which are high in vitamin A and vitamin C and pump up the flavor. For additional flavor, I sautée persimmons. Persimmons are not out in the markets for long, so I like to take advantage of their presence in fall and use them whenever I can. They are sweet and a little spicy, perfect for the stuffing. I top the whole thing off with dried cherries, which provide a nice tart bite and look pretty peeking out of the brown and orange stuffing. The stuffing is done on the stovetop and can be served as a side dish. It is also delicious stuffed into squash and baked as a nice vegetarian main dish option. I have also added chicken sausage to it (at the request of my husband) and served as our whole meal. No matter how it is served, it’s delicious!
1 cup quinoa
2 Tablespoons butter, or olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 celery stalks
1 sweet potato, diced
2 medium Fuyu persimmons, diced
5 sage leaves, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cook the quinoa according to package directions or follow these amazing tips.
Sauté onion and celery in the butter or olive oil until the onion looks clear.
Add the sweet potato and continue cooking until soft, about 8 minutes. Add in the persimmons, sage and salt and pepper. Feel free to add in a bit more olive oil if necessary to keep things moist. Add in the cooked quinoa, add more salt and pepper if necessary, toss it all together and serve or use in other options listed above.
Need more inspiration? Check out my Brussels recipe!