My two favorite holidays are Thanksgiving and Passover. No big mystery why – they are both food-centered. When it turned out that the theme of our monthly Progressive Eats Dinner Party is A Vegetarian Thanksgiving, I immediately began to imagine variations on my favorite Thanksgiving stuffing. It didn’t take long to turn the original version into this mushroom leek cornbread stuffing.
I grew up in the Northeast, with bread cube stuffing. It is perfectly wonderful. My friend Lafe is from Arkansas. His stuffing recipe calls for three kinds of bread (cornbread, “regular” breadcrumbs, and saltines) formed into balls and baked with vegetables, broth, and seasonings. After just one taste, I went head over heels for his version.
The changes (from Lafe’s original) put the emphasis on the vegetables. It’s also more subtle in its seasoning. I’ve swapped out onions for leeks, and thyme for sage. As the name indicates there are mushrooms in it now, and red bell pepper too. What remains are the texture – slightly crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside – and the slightly sweet taste of cornbread.
Part of the fun of this recipe is crumbling up the cornbread with your hands. For those who know Lucille Ball, think of the episode where she stomps grapes. This is much more sanitary, but almost as much fun.
The chopping and sautéing of the vegetable ingredients is not difficult and doesn’t take too long.
Then it’s a simple matter to add the 3 types of bread/crackers and form the mixture into balls.
After the mushroom leek cornbread stuffing balls bake, you can serve them, refrigerate them and re-heat (if you’ll use them within a few days), or freeze them. I’ve also frozen the stuffing balls unbaked, defrosted them and baked them just before serving. Depending on what else you serve, count on 1-2 balls per person.
I like them “dry” because I like to keep the crunch, but my husband says gravy adds a whole new dimension.
My son Liam likes them as leftovers; after trying them at an early Thanksgiving dinner, the next day he sliced two mushroom leek cornbread stuffing balls in half, and stuffed them with cranberry sauce and a bunch of other leftovers into a mile-high sandwich that was quite a sight. (Sadly, I didn’t get a good enough photo for this post.)
As I mentioned above, this post is part of a monthly virtual Progressive Dinner Party called Progressive Eats. This month our host is Susan Pridmore, who blogs at The Wimpy Vegetarian.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.
We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but take on substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.
A Vegetarian Thanksgiving
- Caramelized French Onion Dip with Homemade Potato Chips from Creative Culinary
- Spiced Acorn Squash with Charred Poblano-Chickpea-Cornbread Stuffing from The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Moroccan Pilaf and Vegetable-Stuffed Squash from The Heritage Cook
- Mushroom Leek Cornbread Stuffingfrom Mother Would Know
- Celery Root Mash from Stetted
- Stovetop Green Bean Casserole from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
- Carrot Puff from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Broccoli Casserole from Never Enough Thyme
- Potato Gratin from Miss in the Kitchen