I've always been more excited about the side dishes at Thanksgiving dinner than the actual turkey. When I was growing up, making the stuffing was always my job and that meant using the kind that comes in a box. Then one day I tried making homemade stuffing and since then, I've never gone back to the boxed variety. For my lightened up stuffing, I cook the vegetables in heart healthy olive oil instead of butter. Instead of white bread, I use a delicious loaf of whole wheat ciabatta from the bakery section of my grocery store. And by substituting turkey sausage for pork, I cut plenty of calories and fat. So this year, add this side dish to your Thanksgiving menu and you won't feel guilty for overindulging! —Sonali aka the Foodie Physician
loaf (1 lb.) day old or stale whole wheat ciabatta, cut into 3/4 inch cubes (about 12 cups)
2 1/2 tablespoons
sweet turkey sausage, casings removed
large yellow onion, chopped
medium fennel bulb, chopped (reserve some fronds for garnish)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
If the bread is not dry/stale, place the cubes in a single layer on two baking sheets sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and bake 15 minutes until it is toasted, stirring halfway through. Place the bread in a large bowl.
Meanwhile, heat ½ tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and brown it, breaking it up into pieces as it cooks. Place the cooked sausage in the bowl with the bread. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the skillet. Add the onion and fennel and cook 7-8 minutes until partially softened. Add the garlic, apple, sage, thyme, salt and pepper and cook another 5 minutes. Add the mixture to the bowl with the bread and sausage.
Whisk the chicken broth and eggs together in a measuring cup. Pour the mixture into the bowl and stir to combine all ingredients well. Pour the stuffing into a 13x9-inch baking tray sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Cover the tray with foil and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and cook another 20 minutes until top is golden. Garnish with reserved fennel fronds.