A friend is putting together a menu for a Christmas turkey dinner and asked for some advice. “Is there a difference”, she asked “between stuffing and dressing?” “Stuffing” I replied, “is cooked inside the turkey while dressing is a side dish cooked outside the turkey.” She then asked, “Is there an advantage of one over the other?”
I had to think about that for a minute or so. “Often times” I said, “it comes down to personal preferences. A vegetarian stuffing, for example, is not vegetarian when served at the table from the inside of a turkey. When baked outside the turkey it is dressing and can be enjoyed by all.”
I also discussed the health risks associated with stuffing. “It is not unusual for raw turkey to be contaminated with bacteria”, I said. “A turkey’s cavity is the perfect spot for bacteria to hide, Salmonella included. If the stuffing is not cooked thoroughly you run the risk of bacterial poisoning.”
She listened to what I told her looking a little depressed until I offered the following savory wild rice vegan dressing for her consideration.
4 cups water
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup long-grain brown rice
3/4 cup wild rice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion (chopped)
1 pound fresh mushrooms (sliced)
½ cup parsley (chopped fine)
1 cup celery (sliced)
¼ teaspoon rubbed sage
1/8 teaspoon each black pepper, dried marjoram, and dried thyme
½ cup pecan halves (split lengthwise)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bring water to a boil and add ¼ teaspoon of the salt and all of the rice. Lower to simmer, cover and cook until rice is tender but still crunchy (about 30 to 40 minutes).
In a large ovenproof skillet, gently heat the oil and sauté the onion and mushrooms until the onion becomes transparent. Add the parsley, celery, cooked rice, seasonings, and pecans. Stir to mix, then cover and bake for 15 minutes.