Best Italian Vegetarian Stuffing recipe for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. Caramelized leeks, celery, no meat sausage, fennel and the classic holiday flavors from fresh rosemary, sage and dried cranberries are tossed with dry bread cubes and veggie broth then baked until golden. Rich, savory and divine, watch the how to VIDEO below!
Vegetarian Stuffing Recipe
You’ll fall in love with this easy, comforting classic Italian bread stuffing from scratch. I like to think of it like a vegetable loaded festive panzanella; savory, hearty, filling, and irresistible. Great with mashed potatoes, creamed spinach and a fresh tomato cucumber salad, this is without a doubt a most favorite holiday side dish.
Vegetarian Stuffing Ingredients
- Bread – a crusty sour dough loaf, spent grain, ciabatta or homemade crusty Italian bread is ideal. You want something hearty that will hold up to the rest of the ingredients. Make sure to use dry day old bread or make sure to toast it in the oven first.
- Leeks – you’ll love the magic caramelized leeks can bring to a dish. It’s worth the effort to chop, clean and cook them in advance. I could just spoon them on top of bruschetta or a slice of focaccia and live happily ever after.
- Olive oil – forget the butter, you want olive oil for caramelizing the leeks and drizzling the top of the bread stuffing for perfectly crispy and browned edges.
- Celery – the usual suspect of a deep flavor base, the only thing i love better is lovage which sadly is impossible to find in the US. If you happen to have some fresh or dry use it here, this is your moment!
- Fennel – because nothing screams Italian like the sweet toasty aroma of fennel seed.
- Italian sausage – I used meatless beyond sausages browned in a little olive oil. Use the veggie broth to deglaze the pan afterward and capture all that flavor while keeping it totally vegan.
- Fresh herbs – just the classic fresh sage and rosemary is all you need.
- Vegetable broth – for both moisture and flavor.
- Cranberries – totally optional but I love the little sweet and sour balance they bring to this otherwise extra savory dish, not to mention how festive they look.
How to Dry Bread for Stuffing
- Air dry – Slice the loaf into 3/4 inch slices then cut or tear them into 3/4 inch cubes. Spread on a large baking sheet and allow to air dry overnight.
- Bake – Alternatively you could toast the bread cubes in a 375″F oven for 15 minutes or so until they start to get a little color around the edges.
- Grill – cut thick slices of bread and grill them on both sides until nice grill marks form. Rub both sides of the bread with a garlic clove just like making bruschetta. Tear into rustic pieces and use in the stuffing.
How to Make Italian Vegetarian Stuffing
- Prep the bread cubes for stuffing.
- Cook the leeks and celery.
- Brown the Italian sausage.
- Combine everything with the veggie broth and bake in a casserole dish until golden.
Tips + FAQ
- Make ahead – prep all your ingredients the day before but keep separate and combine before baking.
- Add ins – sauteed wild mushrooms, marinated artichoke hearts, tart apples, pesto drizzle.
- Can stuffing be frozen? To freeze the leftovers transfer to lidded containers and pop in the freezer for a few months. Thaw it out before reheating in the oven @350″F for about 25 minutes or so.
- Should i cover the stuffing while baking? – Cover with aluminum foil for the first 30 minutes, then bake uncovered for an additional 25 minutes or so until golden brown around the edges. This way the stuffing won’t dry out but you’ll still get the crispy top.
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Watch How to Make It
Italian Vegetarian Stuffing
- 1 loaf crusty bread (aprox 16 cups)
- 4 links Italian sausage Beyond Meat, thawed out
- 1 leek (sliced and rinsed well)
- 3 celery stalks chopped
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1-2 sprigs rosemary chopped
- 2 sprigs sage chopped
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 bunch Italian parsley chopped
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries optional
- S & P to taste
- olive oil as needed
Prepare the Bread
- Slice the bread loaf into 3/4 inch slices then cut or tear them into 3/4 inch cubes. Spread out on a large baking sheet and allow to air dry overnight. Alternatively toast in a 375”F oven for 15 minutes or so until the bread starts to show a little color around the edges.
Cook the Vegetables
- Preheat a large heavy bottom skillet over medium flame with a lug of olive oil. Add the cleaned leeks with a good pinch of salt and saute until they begin to get some color and caramelize. Add in the celery and a little splash of veggie stock if needed and give everything a good stir. Cook until the celery begins to soften.
- Push the leeks to the side to make a little space in the center. Drizzle a little olive oil and add the garlic, sage and rosemary. Cook until fragrant, stir to combine and remove from heat. (This step can be done the night before and refrigerated)
Prepare the Sausage
- Preheat large cast iron pan over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Cut the Beyond Italian sausage into 1 inch pieces and add them to the hot pan. Use a flat end wooden spoon to break it up into chunks as it browns.
- Sprinkle with a pinch of red pepper flakes for extra heat + add the fennel seeds. Toss everything to toast well in all the sausage dripping. Use a slotted spoon and transfer everything to a bowl.
- Add the vegetable broth to the pan with the sausage dipping and deglaze all the brown bits from the bottom. Use a silicone spatula to scrape everything from the bottom.
- In your largest mixing bowl add the dried or toasted bread cubes, cooked leeks and celery mixture, the browned Italian sausage, chopped parsley and cranberries. Give everything a good toss.
- Pour 1/3 of the veggie broth over the bread mixture and toss again. Add another 1/3 of the broth and combine well before adding the rest of the broth and mixing again.
- Oil a 9x13 inch roasting dish making sure to get the sides as well.
- Transfer the stuffing mixture to the pan and finish with a good drizzle of olive oil.
Bake the Stuffing
- Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated 375”F oven for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 25 minutes or so until the top is nicely golden.
- Air dry - Slice the loaf into 3/4 inch slices then cut or tear them into 3/4 inch cubes. Spread on a large baking sheet and allow to air dry overnight.
- Bake - Alternatively you could toast the bread cubes in a 375"F oven for 15 minutes or so until they start to get a little color around the edges.
- Grill - cut thick slices of bread and grill them on both sides until nice grill marks form. Rub both sides of the bread with a garlic clove just like making bruschetta. Tear into rustic pieces and use in the stuffing.
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