Southern Cornbread Dressing (Stuffing) – gluten-free and vegan

southern-cornbread-stuffingAny Southerner looking at the title would be puzzled. You see, ‘vegan’ and ‘southern’ are rarely seen in the same sentence. Not unless one is speaking of raw ingredients – say, a tomato salad. And even this may have a mayonnaisey dressing on it, or at least some chopped hardboiled eggs. Southerners like to provide added value to any dish. A sprinkle of parsley at the very least. But more likely a glistening pat of Land O Lakes butter. We just can’t help ourselves.southern-cornbread-stuffingLike a lot of Americans, Southerners love their meat, but Southerners, more than in any other area (in my opinion), are quite wedded to the hardcore end of calorific cooking. Think bacon fat, Crisco (a solid vegetable fat), mayonnaise and butter. These ultra-fatty (and often delicious) ingredients will be added to otherwise naturally vegetarian or vegan dishes – eg the tomato salad. The underlying cultural thought has long been “better with butter.” The addition of which may possibly make one “fuller than a tick on a dawg.” (sorry, I couldn’t resist)

Despite the predilection for lard I have huge affection and nostalgia for Southern cooking. Dishes like sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, devilled eggs and collard greens are things that done well are absolutely delicious. I can barely resist at least a spoonful. In fact, it was in the South that green vegetables and spices first began to be used in everyday cooking, food stuff previously seen as ‘slave food.’

So, vegetables are not in fact alien in southern cooking. Far from it. Vegetables are frequently at the heart of many of the dishes you will see on any good host’s/hostess’s table.

I have vivid memories of a lace-clothed table barely visible under a jigsaw puzzle of vegetable dishes, interlaced with platters of fried chicken, smothered steak and the inevitable Jello salad. But the star was always the vegetables. Most often they were freshly picked from my grandmother’s garden (they were farmers), lightly cooked, with some possibly pickled from earlier in the long Tennessee growing season. As is the case now, my eight-year old self would make a bee-line for the sliced, raw, warm-from-the-garden tomatoes, gorging myself, the red juice coursing down my chin and onto my terrycloth shorts (it was the 70s).southern-cornbread-stuffing-on-spoon

I ate all of the other stuff too, including cornbread dressing. I remember it made by my grandmother with chicken or turkey giblets and stock – rich and savoury. There were a few vegetables too, but I can’t recall exactly which. Most likely just onions and celery. Possibly some bacon leftover from an earlier meal. Like I said, added value…

Today’s recipe – one I have honed over the years – is my modest homage to my grandmother Mimi’s homey, loving and skilful cooking. It is not a patch on hers, and certainly would not have involved measurements. The only measuring implement I ever saw her use was an old tin can. She used another tin can to cut out her light as angel wings buttermilk biscuits. I wished while she was alive that I had managed to winkle a few recipes out of her. She was a wonderful lady: quiet, religious, but she could tell some jaw-dropping stories, most of which were possibly even true.

Any of you with grandmothers, take the time over the holidays to chat her up for her best tips and dishes. Never mind the lard. And get some of those stories too.DSC_0004

I hope that you enjoy this tweaked ‘heritage’ recipe for Southern cornbread dressing. Now – change of geography here –  if you want some modern Mediterranean Christmas recipes – gluten-free and paleo-friendly, have a look at the latest offering from my friend nutritionist Conner Middelmann-Whitney. She kindly sent me her ebook and I have had a hungry time pouring over all of the creative and delicious-sounding recipes. Most are suitable for anytime, so don’t think it is just a Christmas cookbook. The first thing I am making from this beautifully photographed ebook is her Spanakopita with Chickpea Wraps and then the chia-flax crackers. All of her recipes are very well thought through, and laced with absorbing nutrition information. And it is a great price for what you get. I’m not being sponsored to say any of this, it is a genuine endorsement of the work of someone I admire. She may even be embarrassed that I am doing this!

Have a great week. Back later with something to eat with your Christmas leftovers.

What heritage recipes are you making this holiday season?

southern-cornbread-stuffingSouthern Cornbread Dressing (Stuffing) – vegan/gluten-free

Last year: Fennel and Maple Roasted Carrots + Creamed Kale Two Ways (these have been featured on Huffington Post and Buzzfeed)

Two years ago: Sweet and Spicy Munch Mix

Miss R’s Track of the week: Happy by Pharrell Williams – we know you all know about this track but who cares – it is brilliant and a great cooking song!

Nearly every Southern cook in America has a tried and trusted cornbread ‘dressing’ recipe. This one is a variation on one I make year after year. Usually eggs are added for more of a bread pudding effect, but this year it has gone vegan. If you want to add egg, stir in three after mixing in the stock.

I suggest some Southern and not-so-Southern add-ins at the end of the recipe, but plain old cornbread stuffing is fine by us. And just so you know, cornbread dressing is not exclusive to Thanksgiving and Christmas; Southern cooks will put it on the table with a weekend roast ham or chicken, as well as cracking over some eggs for the last few minutes of baking. Or what about topping with freshly steamed asparagus, chopped hard-cooked egg and a wee swirl of hollandaise? Here are some other ideas. Definitely not just for holidays. I am making a vow to include cornbread dressing in more everyday meals – it is that awesome 

Serves 8-12 (can halve ingredients)

Cornbread, crumbled – 1 skillet recipe (6 cups of big crumbles), homemade*(see note below) or bought

Stale, air-dried ‘bakery’ bread, cubed – 150g (4 cups)

Olive oil – 1 ½ tbsp

Red onions, 2 – finely chopped

Carrots, 2 – finely chopped

Celery stalks, 2 – finely chopped

Brussels sprouts, 20 – sliced (can certainly use kale – about 3 cups chopped)

Seasoning mix (given below), bought poultry seasoning OR 1 tsp dried sage + ½ tsp thyme + ½ tsp rosemary + 1 tsp black pepper

Lemon zest – from one medium-sized lemon

Walnuts, Chestnuts or Pecans, finely chopped – 70g (1/2 cup)

Parsley, chopped – 3 tbsp

Vegetable stock, warm – 850ml (3 and 2/3 cups)

White miso (optional) – 1 heaped tbsp

1. Oil a large rectangular ceramic or glass baking dish. Size isn’t too important, just make sure it is a large one.

2. If the bread isn’t hard like a crouton, pop the cubes onto a baking tray and into a 180C/350F oven for about eight minutes. Pull out of the oven and set aside to cool and harden. When cool put the bread cubes and cornbread crumbles into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet; add the onion and sauté for five minutes, until softened and glossy, stirring occasionally. Stir in the carrots, celery and Brussels sprouts and sauté a further five minutes, stirring so nothing sticks. Add in the seasoning blend, or just the herbs. Stir in the lemon zest, chopped nuts and fresh parsley, mixing in evenly. Decant this fragrant mixture into the bowl with the breads.

4. Mix the vegetable stock and miso (if using) and pour over the bread and vegetables, tossing through carefully until everything is moist. Taste for seasoning, adjusting as needed – maybe some salt. Lightly press the dressing into the oiled dish, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 180C/350F. Remove the foil and bake a further 25 minutes, until crusty in places and hot all the way through. If you wanted to make this more soufflé like (and I sometimes prefer it this way), whisk 3 beaten eggs and fold into the stock-soaked mixture before pressing into the pan.

To serve either cut into squares (about 12) or just use a big serving spoon and dive in.

Variations: add fresh cranberries, finely chopped apple or roasted cubed sweet potato/squash; add cooked smoked bacon, crumbled/chopped cooked black pudding/boudin noir; chopped rehydrated porcini mushrooms. Celeriac is a good alternative to celery.

Getting ahead of yourself: you can make the whole thing up and pop it wrapped and unbaked in the freezer until you need it. Just add on 10 extra minutes cooking time under the foil. I have never frozen the vegan version but I imagine it will be fine, but may be quite crumbly as there is no egg to bind. Perhaps vegan egg replacer will do the trick! Let me know if you make this with vegan egg replacer.

Seasoning Blend for Cornbread, Chicken or Fish dishes (all dried herbs):

1/4 tsp paprika + pinch of celery seeds or 1/4 tsp celery salt + 1/4 tsp rosemary + 1/2 tsp sage + 1/4 tsp thyme + 1/4 tsp nutmeg

*Note about cornbread: I used my recipe (per link) but eliminated the egg completely, changed the buttermilk for almond milk with 2 tsp lemon juice added, and oil rather than butter for the skillet. I usually use the recipe as is but eliminate the oil because the cornbread should actually be on the dry side. You can’t take away the egg and the oil, or what you get are crackers! Use your own judgment: no harm in having straight up bought or your normal recipe of cornbread.brussels-sprouts-and-onionssauteeing-winter-vegetables

I haven’t sent my recipes to Mark of Javelin Warrior’s Cookin’ W/Luv for his Made With Love Mondays in awhile. Nor to Karen at Lavender and Lovage for her Cooking with Herbs. I am remedying this with my  cornbread dressing recipe. Both Karen and Mark are terrific supporters of other food bloggers. Thanks y’all, and Happy Christmas.Cooking-with-Herbs-300x252-150x1506797570797_5f6497bd2e_z

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32 thoughts on “Southern Cornbread Dressing (Stuffing) – gluten-free and vegan

    • Thanks Ann. Rest assured it will again be on the menu. It is Mr A and Miss R’s favourite part of the meal – apparently. Although don’t tell Bob that I mentioned black pudding or he might want it! Looking forward to spending time with you all xxx

  1. Kellie, you brought back some fond memories for me as well. Your “Mimi” new how to cook, for sure. Your cornbread stuffing looks delicious too.
    Dad

  2. Kellie, I just love your posts! You really know how to draw the reader in. In many ways, I feel as if I wrote this. “Stunning” is a great word to describe this one.

    I also grew up in a southern kitchen, only our greens all came from a can (ew!!). Many recipes can’t be written down, but are more like “it just must have this texture” or “it looks about like this.” They must be passed down by hands-on approach. Most of my treasured recipe cards have the word lard on them, but I keep them anyway. My new days of compassionate cooking (leaving off the animals) find that many substitutes can be made and still spare the living beings. If people only knew.

    This looks delicious. We make cornbread regularly during the cold season since it goes so well with just about anything, especially warm soups and chilis. Thank you for sharing this gem! I’m going to try it with the roasted butternut squash and using egg replacer (I like the souflee feel). Your seasoning looks like it has a bit of a kick — I like that! No brussels sprouts in the fridge (we ate ‘em all already), but I have a full bag of fresh-picked kale. I will let you know how it turns out.

    Cheers, Kelli!

    • I’ve got recipes from an aunt that have lard (mainly church recipes) and they are such a snapshot of Southern life, perhaps only just clinging on in some respects. But lots of delicious and simple recipes from her too, but perhaps not exciting enough for today’s wider palates, reflecting our smaller world and worldlier travels. Most of anything I know foodwise has definitely come by watching and listening, not from books. Although as my last post attests, books do inspire. I hope you enjoy the cornbread stuffing. It is not spicy at all but mimics to some extent ‘poultry seasoning,’ just my version of it. Have a wonderful Christmas, Shannon. Thanks so much for your thoughtful and thought-provoking comment. I really appreciate it. Stay well, and warm!

      • I wish this post had a super-like. And you know what? No rendered animal hineys needed to flavor this dish. :). Take that, Granny.

        The sprouts (I went and got me some more) and seasoning gave it so much oomph. I used the miso, no extra salt (didn’t need it!), the roasted butternut, and egg replacer. Had the perfect texture and my kids gobbled it as a stand-alone meal with some steamed broccoli. PerFECTion. This one’s a keeper. I’ll likely blow my non-vegan family away with this one. Thanks for sharing it!

        PS – I discovered that my new convection oven (I had the crappiest electric for 7 years…burned everything!) has a “bread proofing” setting which was perfect for staling up the bread good and quick (the grocery baker gave it to me for nothing) while I sautéed the veggies. I’ll use that again!

      • Sorry I haven’t replied to your most fantastic comment and review, Shannon. I am behind on the blog admin (and writing) – too much on the go and we have been away for awhile in rural west of Scotland – no connection. Anyhoo, thanks SO much for the feedback. Your new oven sounds amazing. My double oven is probs on its last legs/amps. I work it too hard, I know. I just hope it holds out until the new year! Merry Christmas to you and your family, Shannon

      • Merry Christmas to you too! I hope to post a before-and-after of the kitchen, which I have been enjoying tremendously these last few weeks. It was a long time coming and such an incredible transformation. Merry Christmas to me, over and over again. (Thank you, Granny. And RIP.)

  3. I, too, lost so many recipes when my grandmother and mum died. I plan on producing copious quantities (positively RHEAMS of them) when/if I am graced with grandchildren. “Here darlings…have some chocolate cake and while you are at it, here’s the recipe for it as well!” ;). I have to be honest here and admit that I have never once tried cornbread. I took a book out of the library called “The cornbread Gospels” but mainly because who could resist an author called “Crescent Dragonwagon”? I guess cornbread is just a step too far out of our usual range of fare.

    As an homage to the son-and-heir’s partner Kelsey who comes from Texas I am going to make this recipe for our communal Christmas lunch next Tuesday. I think she will “get it” completely and the rest of us can at least have a taste of the south in the spirit of combining north and south (although technically… it is “south” and “South” isn’t it? ;) ). I love that we vegans get to try this recipe and that I now have a cornbread recipe that I can serve with Steve’s “You-beaut” vegan chilli. Cheers for the excellent recipe shares, the wonderful accompanying music (all hail Miss R!) to bop around the kitchen to while you cook, this blog is a completely holistic approach to feeding your body and soul :)

    (crackers…hee-hee… ;) )

    • I would be immensely honoured. Can I recommend adding the chia egg trick (or your fave vegan egg replacer)? The souffle effect is really good, but I didn’t do it here as I wanted to see if it was fine without any egg or sub, and it is. But I do prefer a souffle/cohesive stuffing. It will be perfect with Steve’s chilli too. Hmmm, Crescent Dragonwagon – now that is a name! Enjoy the holidays with your no doubt extremely entertaining family. And enjoy those garden goodies – mmm.

  4. “Adding value” to dishes is a perspective I never considered when thinking about Southern cooking, but it makes a lot of sense. And it’s true that often that bit of added value is what makes the dishes so tasty (and unhealthy). I love the sound and look of this stuffing, Kellie – what a fantastic twist and certainly deserving a spot on the holiday dinner table…

  5. I love this recipe Kellie and although I am a bit go an honoury southerner myself and like a bit if meat in my stuffing, I could happily serve and devour this, as I am a big fan if veggies, as you know! This is a recipe that bursts with colour and flavour and would look stunning on the Christmas table! Thanks so much for adding it to my herbs challenge and a very Merry Christmas to you and yours! Plus thanks for your friendship this year too! Karen xxxxx

    • Thanks for your lovely comment, Karen. And your good wishes. Happy Christmas to you too. PS Your type is nothing. Mine are often down to a filthy minded autocorrect-type gremlin who lurks in the software of my Kindle!

    • Thanks Fran. I use Orgran sometimes but haven’t investigated other proprietary egg subs. I usually jsut recommend chia/flax as it is most universally found. I am using the word universally rather loosely.

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