As I admitted in my last post, here in the Wallace household we do tend to relax our fasting for Thanksgiving. However, we usually bend the rules for Thanksgiving Day, only, which means my poor husband gets to enjoy his favorite food for only a single day out of the entire year. And some years, he doesn’t even get to enjoy it then, because he married a yankee and is sometimes stuck spending his holiday with people who (mistakenly) believe that it is possible to celebrate Thanksgiving without cornbread dressing. I developed this recipe as a gift for him. It is a little involved (although no moreso than traditional dressing or stuffing,) but if it makes someone you love feel at home, it might be worth it for a special occasion.
Thea’s Vegan Cornbread Dressing
To give credit where due, this recipe was inspired by the recipe for cornbread dressing in The New America’s Best Recipe.
1 9×13″ pan full of vegan cornbread (I use this recipe from Post Punk Kitchen) 1 TBSP No Chicken Base Better Than Bouillon (or other chicken stock substitute) dissolved in 3 cups hot water 2 cups UNSWEETENED milk substitute (soy, almond, coconut, etc.) 2 TBSP ground flax seeds 4 TBSP olive oil 4 TBSP coconut oil 3 medium onions, finely chopped 3 large ribs celery, finely chopped 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press 2 TBSP fresh sage, chopped 2 TBSP fresh thyme, chopped, (or 1 TBSP dry thyme) 1 1/4 tsp salt 1 tsp pepper
1. Make the cornbread. If you can, make it the day before, break it into rough chunks, and leave it out to dry overnight (stale bread is better at soaking up liquid). Either way, whether it is fresh or day-old, break the cornbread into chunks, spread them on a cookie sheet, and toast in the oven for about an hour at 250°. When you take it out of the oven, move one of the racks to the lower middle position and turn the temperature up to 400°.
2. There is a difference of opinion in my house over what to do next. My husband likes his dressing the way his family makes it, made from cornbread crumbs. I prefer it with more texture (maybe it’s my yankee roots), and would make it from cornbread chunks. You can go either way, but for us a happy compromise is to put about half of the cornbread in a food processor and turn it into nice golden crumbs, while breaking the other half into bite-sized chunks.
3. Sprinkle the flax seeds over the cornbread. Gently but thoroughly mix the crumbs, chunks, and flax seeds. Pour the liquid ingredients in and mix again. It is okay for it to look a bit soupy at this point. You’ll be surprised how much liquid that cornbread will absorb.
4. Chop your vegetables and herbs. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 TBSP olive oil and 2 TBSP coconut oil. Saute half of the onions and celery until they begin to soften, 5-10 minutes. Add them to the cornbread bowl and repeat the process with the rest of the oil, onions, and celery. When the second batch of onions and celery is nearly done, stir in garlic, sage and thyme. Cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Stir in salt and pepper.
5. Add all of the vegetables to the cornbread mix, stirring gently until thoroughly combined. Place in a greased backing dish (at least a 9×13″ pan – I used a smaller dish this year and the dressing stayed just a little too wet, since there wasn’t enough surface area for the liquid to evaporate). Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the top is nice and golden brown.
6. Serve and enjoy! Check back tomorrow for a vegan gravy recipe (or maybe 2).