Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}

Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}This year will be an unusual Thanksgiving for my family. Not only will all of us be together over the holiday, but we’re also going to be home in Fort Worth and we’re going to make the big meal ourselves. I honestly can’t remember the last time we did all that–I think I was eleven!

Since we’ll be cooking in my mom’s kitchen, she’s the lady in charge. So far, she’s requested a Butterscotch Cream Pie. Other than that, nothing’s set in stone.* None of us are particularly fond of turkey, so we’re not married to the traditional meal.

Note: I mean, there will be Artichoke Dip. It’s not the holidays without Artichoke Dip.

Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}Now, I can live without the traditional sweet potatoes, the cranberry sauce, and even the rolls. I generally don’t care for gravy, so that’s no biggie. But stuffing…well, it’s my lone non-negotiable side dish. 

I’ve already got a great stuffing recipe in the archives–the base is homemade cream biscuits! I love that recipe, but I’m going in a different direction this year. My little sister has cut gluten out of her diet over the past several months, so this year, I’m using my accidentally-gluten-free Southern-Style Cornbread as the base, and doctoring it up with apples and fennel. So freaking good, y’all.

Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}Cornbread Stuffing with Apple & Fennel might be my new favorite Thanksgiving side. The southern cornbread makes for a super savory base, but the pops of sweetness from the apples and fennel keep it interesting. Adding to the flavor are all the aromatics (celery, onion, garlic) and herbs (parsley, sage, thyme) you’d expect in a stuffing, plus some vegetable stock. Oh, and butter–a whole stick. It’s holiday food, not everyday food.

Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}My grandmother (the one with the biscuits and Lemon Meringue Pie) made a cornbread dressing that was so dense and moist that it could be sliced into squares. (It also had hard-boiled eggs in it. 😬😫😑) This recipe has very little in common with hers. While it’s definitely moist and buttery, this stuffing cannot be sliced and requires a serving spoon. 

Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}With Thanksgiving just fifteen days away, I can’t wait to share this with my family. The cornbread base gives a nod to our Texan heritage, the apples and fennel are seasonal and delicious, and it’s all gluten-free, so everyone can enjoy it. Oh, and it can’t be sliced and stacked like a pyramid on a serving dish, so we’ve got something for which to be thankful.Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}

Cornbread Stuffing with Apple & Fennel {Gluten-Free}
makes 8 servings

Southern-Style Cornbread:
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg, room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon bacon fat (or neutral-flavored oil)

Preheat oven to 425F.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Combine buttermilk and egg in a measuring cup. Whisk together with a fork. Fold into dry ingredients. Fold in melted butter.

Heat an 8- or 9-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat for at least 3 minutes. Add bacon fat and coat. Add cornbread batter. Cook for one minute before transferring to the oven. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely in the pan on a rack.

For the stuffing:
1 recipe Southern-Style Cornbread, cut into cubes, stale
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1 medium white onion, small diced
2-3 stalks celery, small diced
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and small diced
2 large baking apples, peeled and small diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2-2 1/2 cups vegetable broth, divided
1/2-3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt 
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Remove cornbread from the pan and slice into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread cubes onto a dry sheet pan and let sit uncovered overnight.

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9×13-inch casserole. Set aside.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, fennel, apples, and garlic, and cook for about 10 minutes or until soft. Add sage, thyme, and parsley and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Pour in 1 cup of vegetable broth and turn the heat up to medium high. Once liquid comes to a simmer, remove pan from heat.

Transfer dry cornbread cubes to a large mixing bowl. Pour in the vegetable mixture and mix until combined. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Melt 4 tablespoons butter and add to the stuffing. Fold in an additional 1-1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, depending on your taste.

Cover pan with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Cornbread Stuffing with Apple & Fennel {Gluten-Free}

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Roasted Cauliflower SoupHave you ever suddenly had a craving for something you’ve never liked? Weird question, but it happened to me.

If you’ve been coming around here for a while, you know that I am not much for liquid dairy. I like yogurt with my granola and cream cheese on a bagel, but with few exceptions, I simply do not like milk, cream, half & half or anything similar.

Roasted Cauliflower SoupI am here to tell you that I’ve had a breakthrough. While I was ill a couple of weeks ago, all I wanted were vegetables. Being sick though, I wasn’t exactly up for serious cooking. I basically lived on roasted sweet potatoes, avocado, and cilantro-lime vinaigrette for a week. When I finally started to feel like myself again, I couldn’t wait to get in the kitchen. I hadn’t cooked since the second week of my vacation, so deciding what to make was more complicated than it normally would be. I thought about lamb ragù, chicken noodle soup, and posole, but it all sounded too heavy. For some reason unknown to me, I started thinking about some roasted cauliflower I had five years ago at a now-defunct restaurant in DUMBO. Roasted cauliflower isn’t anything revolutionary, but I remember this restaurant’s version being startlingly delicious. I couldn’t get it off my mind. And so, I set out to the grocery store.

Roasted Cauliflower SoupNow, I normally would have just grabbed my cauliflower and some sausages or a chicken, but again, I had just had a cold for a week. Meat simply did not appeal. I wandered the grocery store for more than half an hour trying to figure out what to do with this cauliflower. I love roasted vegetables, but they need something else to make a meal. I went to grab some butter (because hi, I’m a baker), when I spotted some half & half, and it hit me–Roasted Cauliflower Soup. Something I have literally never wanted in my life until that moment.

Roasted Cauliflower SoupI trekked home and put the soup together in just over an hour. I roasted the cauliflower. I sautéed an onion and some garlic. I simmered everything in vegetable stock, added some mustard, and blitzed it all together in the blender. I did the unthinkable and added half & half. And then, I fell head over hideous Birkenstocks for this amazing soup. I ate the whole batch in two days, and then I went and made more because it’s just that good.

And that, dear readers, is the very long story of how a creamy soup came to appear on this blog. Mark the date–it may never happen again.Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Roasted Cauliflower Soup
makes 4-6 servings

8 cups cauliflower florets (about 2 heads cauliflower)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, divided
1 medium white onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 cups vegetable stock
3 cups water, divided
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/2 cup half & half
chopped parsley, for serving
toasted baguette slices, for serving

Preheat oven to 400F. Place cauliflower florets on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper. Toss together with clean hands. Roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring at the 20 minute mark. Set aside.

In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Sauté onion until translucent. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add cauliflower, vegetable stock, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add mustard.

Using an immersion blender (or regular blender, in batches), purée vegetables and stock. Stir in water and let cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove from heat. Stir in half & half. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

Serve soup in shallow bowls. Garnish with parsley and serve with toasted baguette slices.

Soup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator.