I’m doing it.
Putting quinoa in something else weird. Again. I wish I could be cool and not so common, but I’m not. I like some quinoa in some things. You know.
This dish was part of our semi untraditional Thanksgiving a few weeks ago and it was awesome. I haven’t made a new stuffing recipe in a few years and I knew I wanted something different. Quinoa was an obvious choice because 1. it’s everywhere and 2. the texture! Oh the texture. I knew it would give the tiniest little pop to the stuffing along with the crunchy-topped bread. I was downright obsessive over the thought.
Speaking of stuffing, what do you call it? I know that it’s technically only “stuffing” when it’s stuffed inside the bird (which, for the record, is my absolute favorite and I will fight to the death for the inside-the-bird stuffing) but we make extra in order to have enough for everybody (and hello, leftovers) and still call it stuffing. I just don’t think it’s called “dressing” here. Maybe I’m just clueless.
Anyway, this is actually dressing. But it’s really stuffing.
Stuffing for life.
My previous favorite untraditional stuffing included cornbread and sourdough. I was on the fence when it came to creating a new dish because it felt like I used up all my bread options. I was tempted to do croissants or biscuits, but thought it might become more like a bread pudding than a stuffing. I wanted it to have the same comforting texture of regular old stuffing but still be… different. Are you picking up what I’m throwing down?
Then I came across a loaf of pretzel bread in my grocery store. I practically praised the heavens because it truly might have been a miracle. I can’t ever find things like cacoa nibs or real cane sugar in my store, so I certainly was not looking for pretzel bread. Oh the things that smack you in the face.
I bought a loaf, but in the past I made these pretzel rolls that you can bake if you’re outta luck. Anything pretzel and I’m sold. Also, anything pretzel and I want cheese sauce.
I was about 30 seconds away from creating cheese sauce stuffing.
Oh and we must talk about the celery. Or shall I say: lack of celery. There are a few ingredients in the universe that if they magically disappeared, I would not shed one tear. One of them is fennel seeds. The other is celery. No no no. I just can’t get behind it. Not in my stuffing, not in my chicken salad, not in my anything, not with my peanut butter. I will not ride that gravy train.
My mom loves celery and loads up all of the aforementioned things with tons of it. Her stuffing is excellent but I pick around the celery as much as I can. I hate being that person.
So. This dish here is also a direct result of my garlic butter mushroom phase. Can’t stop it. If you don’t care for mushrooms… you should probably just make an entirely different recipe. Like this one. The stuffing you see here is pretty much based on mushrooms. Don’t worry, my dad would agree with you that we’re eating fungus. He would not partake.
Me on the other hand… I would like to eat this whole dish for breakfast.
Yield: serves 4 to 6
Total Time: 1.5 hours
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
6 cups pretzel bread cubes (about 1/2-inch cube size)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, diced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces shitake mushrooms, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake them for 8 to 10 minutes, just until they are firm and almost stale, but not too brown.
Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add butter and olive oil. Add in the shallots and mushrooms and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms soften, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add in 3/4 cup of the stock and bring the mixture to a simmer. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then turn off the heat. Season the mushrooms with the salt and pepper.
In a baking dish (9x13-inch will work, so will something slightly smaller), toss the bread cubes, quinoa and mushroom mixture together. Stir in the sage, parsley and thyme. Drizzle the remaining stock over top evenly, adding a bit more if the bread looks very dry. I like my stuffing a bit crunchy, so if you prefer your's to be super soft, add more stock. I find that with the salty pretzel bread and the stock, there is no need for more salt. Bake the stuffing for 35 to 40 minutes, until slightly golden on top. Tent it with aluminum foil if it becomes too brown.
Stuffing is not very pretty. I swear it tastes pretty though.