Stuffing versus Dressing
Definitions: A mixture of edible substances, usually a starch. It is stuffing if it is cooked inside the turkey, dressing if it is not. Correct? I think that was the consensus on the internet but please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.
We always grew up in my house saying “stuffing.” Whether it was actually cooked inside the turkey or not, I honestly was too oblivious as a youngin to remember, but dressing was a term set aside solely for what we drizzled atop our salads. I remember the first time I heard the term dressing, or the first time it really stood out to me. We were doing a potluck for Thanksgiving at work, and it was time to go sign up for what we were going to bring to contribute. I saw a line for dressing and a line for stuffing. My first inclination was, ‘man, we are going to have a lot of dressing here and it doesn’t look like anyone is going to be bringing salads!’ Then when my coworker corrected me I was still confused because they are essentially the same thing so I don’t know why we needed a list for both of them. But maybe some people are particular??
And The Winner Is…
So I suppose this dish is technically dressing. Because I did not stuff it in a turkey to cook. But if it is okay with you I am probably going to name it stuffing for the recipe. Because it just sounds more normal to me. But you are welcome to call it what you like!
The first and biggest reason this recipe is SO much healthier than tradition stuffings – both in the sense that it is lower in fat and calories, but also HIGHER in minerals and nutrients – is because the base is made from riced cauliflower instead of bread.
White bread contains a lot of refined carbohydrates that your body ends up processing into fats. You can definitely find a better route through whole grain options, but cauliflower takes it up a notch. Cauliflower is really low in calories and fat. A whole head is less than 150 calories and only about a gram of fat. Plus one serving contains about 77% of your daily value of vitamin C, as well as being a good source of vitamin K, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, and manganese. That right there is about 14 reasons why cauliflower is better than bread.
You can buy a whole head of cauliflower, or purchase bags of florets to rice (this is the route I usually take), or nowadays you can even buy pre-riced bags in the store! If you want to rice it yourself, it is really easy. Just take your food processor or high grade blender and pulse it on chop mode a few times.
What also makes this recipe so great is that we stuff so many great vegetables into the dish, that don’t overwhelm the taste. The celery and carrots give a great crisp to it, but once you add the seasonings and sausage, those flavors really take center stage.
So you are going to chop and cook your celery, carrots, and onion together in a separate pan first to allow these to get a little tender. They require longer cooking than cauliflower and mushrooms so you want to make sure they are fully cooked. You can chop the celery and carrots by hand, but I recommend chopping your onion using your food processor to save time.
The last veggie in the dish is mushrooms. Which are another crazy good health option. These we are going to chop with our food processor as small as the cauliflower, and stir it right into the pan and cook them together. They add a heartier texture to the base because mushrooms are denser and contain less water (that will be released during cooking) than the cauliflower.
Bringing it All Together
Now we have got all our vitamins, minerals, and great nutrition benefits packed into this stuffing, it is time we get our flavor on. The main flavors for this dish come from all the great spices you will add, as well as the turkey sausage. But to be sure you don’t lose the health integrity of the dish, make sure you choose a super lean meat option. I highly recommend Jennie-O. The flavor of this sausage was perfect to bring the side together and it is still a really lean option. If this is not available at your store that is okay, just be sure to read the label before making your choice!
Now we are ready to get cooking. This is a great dish for Thanksgiving because it is actually tastier if you make it a day or two before serving. We all know how precious time and cooking space is the morning of Thanksgiving, so make this ahead of time to cut yourself some slack! This not only allows your morning to be less stressful, it gives the flavors time to really combine and makes for a great tasting dish.
I hope you all have an incredible Thanksgiving Day meal, or whatever occasion you may be making this for! Whether it is Thanksgiving, Christmas, or just another Tuesday night, share this dish with your loved ones and always remember to be thankful for each and every one of them.