Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Other than dessert, I think that my favorite Thanksgiving dish is dressing.  Since I am a great lover of carbs, this makes total sense.  I even like to put leftover dressing between two slices of bread to make a sandwich…carbs on top of carbs!

There are stuffing people and there are dressing people, and there are people who don't know the difference.

Stuffing is the same as dressing except for that stuffing is stuffed into something, in this case a turkey, and dressing is baked in a dish.  There you have 'er!
Stuffing can have a lot more flavor than dressing because it absorbs all the yummy juices from the turkey as it roasts.

Some people are afraid of stuffing, but there is no need to fear if the turkey is stuffed immediately before it goes into the oven, and the stuffing is not jam packed into the turkey, but rather kind of loose, and the turkey is cooked to 165 degrees.

I like to make dressing because there is almost always at least one vegetarian at the Thanksgiving table.  Actually, quite often I make both stuffing and dressing.  

In this recipe fennel lends a sweet and mild anise like flavor, to the dressing, as well as savory mushrooms and nutty Parmesan cheese which are perfectly complimentary and add depth of flavor.

I feel that if using this recipe for stuffing that the Parmesan cheese is unnecessary.

Fennel & Mushroom Dressing/Stuffing goes perfectly with Sweet Potato Gratin, Celery Root Mashed Potatoes , Buttermilk Brined Roast Turkey & Gravy, and Roasted Brussel Sprouts & Walnuts (I would omit the Parmesan cheese from the brussel sprouts if serving these dishes together).

There is so much more Thanksgiving inspiration and my blog buddy, Julia of The Roasted Root has put together a list of a bunch of Healthy Holiday Side Dishes from lots of fellow bloggers; cuz she rolls on the healthy side of yummy!

Here's what you do to make stuffing or dressing.

Start by chopping leeks, onion, carrots and a fennel the bulb, not fennel the spice.

Sweat the chopped veggies in butter and olive oil, be sure to season with a little salt & pepper.

I cut a multi grain baguette into 1 inch cubes, but white bread would be good as well.

When the vegetables have softened, add them to a large bowl along with the bread cubes.

Add some more butter and olive oil to the skillet and brown the mushrooms over medium-high heat.

When the mushrooms are mostly browned add minced garlic as well as salt & pepper, cook for about 1 minute.

Add the mushrooms to the bowl...

...As well as some fresh flat leaf parsley, thyme, and fennel fronds.

Pour in some chicken or vegetable stock; it will take anywhere from 1 to 2 cups, depending on the freshness of the bread and how moist you like your dressing. 

If making this recipe as dressing, then make it slightly moister as it will dry just a little when it bakes, conversely if using this as stuffing it will become moister.

For dressing, some Parmesan cheese adds an extra layer of flavor, but is probably not needed if you make this as stuffing.

If stuffing the turkey, do so just before putting the turkey into the oven.

For dressing; grease a baking dish with plenty of softened butter.

Add the dressing to the baking dish.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 20 minutes longer.

Keep warm until your ready to serve.


Serves 6-8

8              cups       Multi grain bread; cut into about 1 inch cubes
4              Tbsp.      Butter, divided use
5              Tbsp.      Extra virgin olive oil, divided use
½                          Medium onion, medium dice
1                           Large leek, thinly sliced
2                           Medium carrots, medium dice
1                           Small fennel bulb, medium dice
8              oz.         Mushrooms, medium dice
3              cloves    Garlic, minced
3              Tbsp.      Fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 ½          tsp.        Fresh thyme leaves, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried)
1              tsp.        Fennel fronds, finely chopped
1-2           cups       Chicken or vegetable stock, low or no sodium
                            Salt and pepper to taste
¾            cup        Parmesan cheese (optional)

   1.       To making dressing pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and grease an 8 X 11 X 2 inch baking dish with softened butter.  If making stuffing, obviously skip this.
   2.       Add the bread to a large bowl.  Set to the side.
   3.       Add 3 Tbsp. of butter and 3 Tbsp. of olive oil to a large skillet; also add the onion, leeks, carrot, and fennel to the pan, season with a pinch each of salt and pepper; and sweat over medium heat until the onions are translucent and the carrots are soft.  Add to the bowl with the bread cubes.
   4.       Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the remaining 1 Tbsp. of butter and 2 Tbsp. of olive oil; add the mushrooms and cook stirring occasionally.  After about 7 minutes, when the mushrooms are mostly browned, add the garlic as well as a pinch of salt and pepper; cook for about a minute.  Add this to the bowl with the bread and veggies.
   5.       Stir the Italian parsley, thyme, and fennel fronds into the bread mixture; add the stock ½ cup at a time.  Fresher bread will require less liquid.  (If you’re making dressing then make the bread a little moister then you would like to eat it, because it will dry out slightly as it bakes.  If making stuffing, the stuffing will absorb more moisture from the turkey.)   Stir in the parmesan cheese (optional) and season with salt & pepper to taste.
   6.       If you’re stuffing the turkey, then loosely fill the cavity with the stuffing.  For dressing, pour the bread mixture into the greased baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.  Bake for 20 minutes with the foil and then remove the foil and bake for 20 minutes longer, until the top is brown. 
   7.       Allow the dressing to set for just a few minutes.

Note:  Dressing can be made in a couple of days in advance and kept in the refrigerator, just be sure to leave the glass or ceramic baking dish out at room temperature for about 20 minutes before putting it into the hot oven.  Also increase the amount of time the dressing bakes with the foil on to 30 minutes.


  1. This looks awesome! Sooo...my family has always, always, always made stovetop stuffing from the box for Thankgiving (tail between legs), so this year, I'm going to require we make something a million times awesomer, like this fine recipe you've got going on :)

  2. I'm so with you about stuffing being the best part of Thanksgiving! It's sooo good, and this version looks phenomenal!

  3. Your dressing looks and sounds wonderful. And I love that beautiful piece of pottery. Looks like it was handmade.

    I have your brother to thank for introducing me to your blog. Met him while buying a new monitor.


  4. OMG now I can have stuffing at Christmas!!!

  5. loved the well explained steps for this delectable recipe,thanks for sharing :-)

  6. Very good work! Iwill try this and I so appreciate your photos as well as all of the menu suggestions!