This delicious vegan stuffing features tempeh, parsnip, apple, sage and walnuts. It's packed with flavour and perfect to feed a crowd at Christmas or your next potluck.
Funny how my strongest food memories related to chicken or turkey are all about the stuffing. In hindsight I guess the writing was always on the wall huh? I became vegetarian when I was 15, so those memories are now pretty vague indeed.
Vegetarian or not, everyone loves stuffing and it's a long time since I've made it. Why did I wait so long?! This dish is so comforting and satisfying with its familiar earthy and herby flavours. It's crispy on top, moist in the middle and absolutely lovely.
This stuffing works beautifully as a side dish (for, let's say, Christmas...) and also has the protein and satisfaction factor to work as a main in its own right. Add new potatoes and green beans cooked your favourite way, and you have a pretty great meal lined up. If sauces are your forté, a mushroom gravy or red wine sauce would also be pretty amazing here.
I crumbled my tempeh by hand to create small irregular nuggets. Break it up as small as you have patience for (cutting it with a knife is a lot faster!). The tempeh is then cooked with onion, garlic, lots of fresh sage, apple cider, vegetable stock, cubed parsnip and apple. After cooling the mixture, I added cubed ciabatta and more vegetable stock and gave it all a good smash together with my hands before topping it with walnuts and baking until golden and delicious.
The recipe calls for ciabatta that is 1-2 days old. If you didn't plan ahead, use fresh ciabatta but dry it out in a hot oven for a few minutes first.
You can easily make this gluten free by using your favourite gluten free bread to replace the ciabatta.
A few cranberries scattered in the mix would also be quite lovely - especially if you're making this for Christmas.
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic crushed or grated
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 2-3 tbsp fresh sage leaves finely chopped (about 7-8 good sized leaves)
- 1 pack of tempeh (250g) broken into small pieces
- 1 large parsnip peeled and diced (approximately 2 cups or 300g)
- ½ cup apple cider
- 2 cups vegetable stock (use a good quality, well flavoured stock)
- 1 granny smith apple peeled and diced
- Zest of one lemon
- Ciabatta bread, preferably 1-2 days old cubed, approximately 200g (I used two ciabatta buns)
- 1 cup walnuts roughly chopped
- 1-2 tbsp extra olive oil
- Heat 4 tbsp of olive oil over a medium flame heat in a large frypan or skillet that has a lid available.
- Add onion, garlic, sage and fennel seeds and cook for a few minutes or until the onion has softened.
- Add tempeh and cook for about five minutes or until it is beginning to colour.
- Add parsnip, cider, ½ cup of vegetable stock (reserve the rest for later) and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, cover and and leave to cook over a low heat for 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid, add the apple and cook for another 5-10 minutes or until the liquid is mostly gone, the apple is very soft, and the parsnip and tempeh have browned in places. This is your best opportunity to get caramelisation into the dish (and therefore lots of flavour) so take your time at this stage.
- Turn off the heat and leave to cool for half an hour, or until cool enough to handle.
- Preheat oven to 200C.
- Tip tempeh mixture into a large mixing bowl, add ½ cup of chopped walnuts (reserve the rest for later) and the chopped bread and stir through. Then add vegetable stock a splash at a time and mix it in with your hands. You want to stop adding stock when everything is moist and a bit squishy, but not soaking wet. I used about 1 ⅓ cups of stock at this point.
- Season with salt and pepper again, then tip into a greased casserole dish and press down evenly. I used my fingers to dimple the surface a bit so that it would crisp and brown better.
- Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup of walnuts and drizzle the surface evenly with another 1-2 tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper again.
- Cover the casserole tightly with aluminium foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil, then continue baking for another 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy on top. Keep an eye on it in the last 10 minutes to make sure the walnuts aren't burning.
Serves 6-8 as a side dish.