I love stuffing. I could eat it any time of year, but waiting until autumn hits makes it seem like an extra special dish. I could eat it any time of day, too, and I have been known to have leftover stuffing for breakfast. Loaded with mushrooms and greens, this Spinach-Mushroom Polenta Stuffing would actually be a perfect meal with which to start the day!
I have friends who love to make their stuffing on the sweet side, with cranberries and chestnuts, but I love savory stuffing with lots of mushrooms and greens. Sometimes I “cheat” and use prepackaged stuffing mix from the store, but I often take the time to prepare everything myself, since I tend to only make it on special occasions. I started making stuffing with polenta instead of bread cubes several years ago, using a recipe from Nava Atlas’s amazing book Vegan Holiday Kitchen. Over the years I’ve altered the recipe, making it my own. It always makes an appearance on my Thanksgiving menu.
This recipe may look time consuming, but it really isn’t. If you know you’ll be pressed for time, you can make the polenta the day before. If you’re really pressed for time, you can use a premade tube of polenta, rather than make it yourself.
This Spinach-Mushroom Polenta Stuffing is the perfect Thanksgiving side dish for anyone who has gluten-sensitivity, and it will please both omnivores and vegans alike. I’ve even had people tell me that they usually don’t like polenta, but they love this dish! It’s sure to be be a welcome addition to your holiday table this year. You may want to double the recipe, because it will disappear quickly!
Spinach-Mushroom Polenta Stuffing
For the Polenta
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup polenta
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
For the Stuffing
- 1 teaspoon neutral-flavored vegetable oil
- 2 medium-sized shallots diced
- 10 ounces button or crimini mushrooms sliced
- 2 celery stalks chopped
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 8 ounces baby spinach chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ - ½ cup vegetable stock
Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Slowly add the polenta in a steady stream, whisking as you go to prevent any clumps. Whisk in the salt. When the polenta begins to bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low, and continue to whisk to prevent clumps. Cook for 10-20 minutes, until the mixture is thick and pulls away from the pot.
Lightly oil a 9”x12” baking or casserole dish. Pour the polenta into the dish, using a rubber spatula to even out the mixture.
Allow the polenta to cool and then place in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.
Line a roasting pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 400°.
Remove the polenta from the pan and cut into 1-inch cubes. Spread the cubes evenly on the roasting pan, making sure the pieces don’t overlap, and bake for 20-30 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the cubes are slightly brown and crispy.
While the polenta is baking, heat the oil in a large pan over medium high heat, and add the shallots, mushroom, and celery along with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are fragrant and slightly browned.
Add the spinach and fresh herbs, and cook until the spinach has wilted, about 2 or 3 more minutes.
Combine the polenta and vegetables in a casserole dish, adding the rest of the salt and the black pepper. Carefully fold ¼ cup vegetable stock into the mixture. If it seems too dry, add another ¼ cup of stock.
Cook for 30-40 minutes, until lightly browned and heated throughout.