Our holiday entertaining guest list includes a number of vegetarians. I make every effort to have many Thanksgiving standards in a vegetarian form. In this case, I use homemade challah, cut it into cubes, and then let the bread cubes sit out on the counter for a couple of days to get a little stale. I also use only mushroom stems in this stuffing, just as a matter of economy. The caps are sauteed in butter and dusted with cayenne, then set aside for mushroom gravy, another vegetarian option. —MrsWheelbarrow
Test Kitchen Notes
No one would ever guess that this is a vegetarian stuffing, and why should it matter? It's rich yet light and teeming with fresh thyme, rosemary, and parsley—a wonderful combination and a dish that everyone at the table will be able to enjoy, vegetarian or not. The most memorable of all is its texture, as the challah soaks up the vegetable broth and melted butter and then puffs up in the oven, creating a stuffing with a thick, crisp top and fluffy, almost pudding-like interior. And yes, we believe the best stuffing result is to use homemade challah, and it's really important not to skip the time it takes to make the bread stale. Two days is ideal, so you can plan ahead of time when making this recipe. The assembled stuffing can hang out on the counter until showtime, and needs about 45 minutes to bake. So a little prep is involved, but this recipe is well worth it. Thanksgiving rolls around only once a year, after all.
We baked it in a large cast-iron skillet because we didn't have right casserole dish. The stuffing didn't suffer a bit; in fact, it looked like something out of Little House on the Prairie. This recipe is pretty versatile, so feel free to experiment with whatever add-ons you like. The rest of it comes together quickly, cooking the vegetables and lots of fresh herbs, then combining those with the soaked bread, more melted butter, and preferably homemade vegetable stock. It's what stuffing dreams are made of when the holidays roll around. —The Editors
- Prep time 48 hours
- Cook time 55 minutes
- Serves 12
large loaf of challah or brioche
unsalted butter, divided, plus more for greasing
finely chopped onion
finely chopped celery
sliced cremini mushrooms
8 to 10 sprigs
chopped flat-leaf parsley
vegetable stock, preferably homemade
freshly ground black pepper
- Cut the challah into 1-inch cubes. Arrange the cubes on a parchment-lined sheet pan on the counter to get stale, at least overnight and preferably for 2 days.
- Heat the oven to 350 F. In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, melt 3 ounces of the butter. Cook the onions, stirring, for about 5 minutes. until wilted. Add the celery, mushrooms, thyme, rosemary, and parsley and cook, stirring, until fragrant and warmed through, about 5 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, in the microwave or in a small skillet over medium heat, melt the remaining 4 ounces of the butter.
- Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl. Add the stock, bread, and melted butter; season with salt and pepper.
- Press the stuffing into a large buttered baking dish. Cover with buttered parchment, then cover with foil. At this point, the stuffing can be held for several hours, but should be at room temperature before baking.
- Bake, uncovering the pan during the last 10 to 15 minutes, for 45 to 55 minutes total, until the surface is crisp and the bread is golden brown.