It’s almost Thanksgiving, y’all! And, that’s as southern as this post is going to get, with the exception of the cornbread dressing. Many years ago my sister married a southerner, and he introduced our family to dressing. NOT STUFFING. We were schooled on this right quick. And the other day I made a test version of this recipe for a friend, and she called it stuffing, and I couldn’t stop myself from correcting her. Anyhoooo…I’m very thankful to Mr. Sister, because this vegan cornbread dressing is ridiculously delicious and we’ve never made that poser stuffing since.
The original recipe came from a copy of a page of Southern Living magazine, the November 2002 issue, page 187. But it has been altered substantially for two reasons. One, I needed to “veganize” it. And two, the original recipe makes a HUGE amount, and I wanted it to all fit one on casserole dish. But then I got all weird and decided to stuff squash with it. What can I say? I’m a rebel.
So whether you make this just for the dressing itself, or if you want to dress it up and stuff it into squash (see what I did there?), or heck, if you just want a good cornbread recipe, I’ve got you covered. Let’s get started!
First, you make the cornbread. That seems obvious, but it’s important to get that going first so that you can prep everything else while it’s baking. Preheat your oven to 425, yo.
Let’s start with the dry ingredients. The original recipe calls for white cornmeal, and at first I was all, does it really matter? In my tests, I discovered that, yes, yes it does matter. I’ve tried yellow cornmeal (of differing size grains) several times, and once I went white, I never went back. Wait…that is a weird statement on so many levels, but I’m going with it (covers head until someone finds a way to make this offensive and throws something at me). When I used white cornmeal, the cornbread baked up soft and fluffy and wonderful. It’s worth seeking out, but I was able to find it in my regular supermarket, so hopefully you won’t have to do much seeking. Use yellow cornmeal at your own risk, that’s all I’m saying. Other than the cornmeal, you’ve got your all-purpose flour (just a little), baking powder, baking soda, salt, and just a touch of sugar (I used coconut sugar because I had it handy).
Ok, so here’s where things get tricky – the liquid ingredients. Those southerners love their eggs, butter, and buttermilk, but how to replace them? My favorite egg replacer in breads like this is a mixture of water and ground flax, so I went with it and worked out perfectly. A bonus is getting a healthy serving of flax in each serving! As for the rest, I reached for my current favorite baking fat, refined coconut oil. It’s got no coconut flavor due to the natural refining process, and I found a crazy good deal on an organic version from BetterBody Foods at my local grocery store. Score! Amazon sells the same brand for a slightly less amazing deal, but it’s still a good buy. The “buttermilk” is easily achieved with some non-dairy milk mixed with apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. I used apple cider vinegar and soy milk, and it thickens up instantly and even looks like buttermilk.
Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry, and bake in a greased baking dish for 30 minutes until golden brown. I used my cast iron skillet, but you can use a 13×9 baking dish, if you like. Whatever bakes your bread.
Now, let’s prep some squash, shall we?
I simply love delicata squash. Even though it’s a winter squash, it has a very thin skin, so thin you can eat it! It’s lightweight, so even though you typically pay by the pound (except at Trader Joe’s, thank you very much), it’s not going to cost you an arm and a leg like some others might. I’m looking at you, Butternut and Kabocha.
One quick slice through the length of the squash, a swift scooping of the seeds, and you have a perfect little bed for some tasty stuff…I mean, dressing. Once the squash is prepped, it’s time turn our attention back to the stuffing, I mean…the cornbread dressing that will be stuffed into the squash. This is confusing.
The dressing is seasoned very simply with onion, celery, and sage, along with some vegetable broth. I used fresh sage when I shot the photos for this post, but actually I think I prefer dried sage. The flavor is a little bit more potent, and, dare I say it, Thanksgiving-y. It’s totally up to you. For the vegetable stock, I love the convenience of vegetable boullion cubes. My favorite brand is Rapunzel, which is interesting because Vida LOVES the movie Tangled. She likes to sing “the Tangled song”, which is “I See the Light”, and honestly, I’ll take it over Let it Go any day. I have digressed.
At this point, you’ll have pulled your cornbread out of the oven and crumbled it into a large bowl to cool while you sauté the celery, onion, and sage. Then you’ll add some soft breadcrumbs, broth, more ground flax seed (hello, fiber) and the vegetable/herb mixture. Mix it all up until thoroughly combined, and then you can get to stuffing the squash. Turn the oven heat down to 375, please.
I used an ice cream scoop to stuff the squash, and it worked perfectly. I love multitasking tools. The basic idea is to fill the cavity of the squash halves and then mound it up on top as well. It makes for a really good dressing to squash ratio, which is important. Once all the squash halves have been stuffed, place them on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes at 375. The squash and the stuffing cook at the same time, and the stuffing will be golden brown on top. If you want, you can also make these ahead and refrigerate them for up to 3 days or until you are ready to eat, whichever comes first.
Don’t they look nice? Well, actually, they look a little, well, dry. I can fix that. Top em’ with some tasty gravy (I did a play on this wonderful recipe for Easy Miso Gravy from Fettle Vegan), and if you want to get really fancy, add a few pomegranate arils to the top. They bring a pop of color and a really nice acidity. I’ve been watching too much Top Chef.
In my ever-so-humble opinion, this dish is fancy and filling enough to be considered the main dish at your holiday table. So of course you will need to serve it with a side of mashed potatoes. Your Thanksgiving dinner is served!
So what do you say? Are you ready to stuff some squash with your vegan cornbread dressing? If you are a southerner, I hope I have not offended you with my adaptation of your classic fare. I’ve just never been one to do anything the traditional way. It’s my blessing and my curse. I hope, if you try this, you’ll find it to be a blessing. And please, oh please, don’t say “bless your heart”, because I know what that really means.
Give this a go, and let me know how you like it here in the comments or tag #eatwithinyourmeans on Instagram! It gives me happy vibes. Speaking of happy, Happy Thanksgiving, all! Hope you have a carbalicious holiday, I know I will. And let me end with this – I’m thankful for YOU, whoever you are, wherever you are, reading this sentence. I am glad you’re here.
- ¾ cup refined coconut oil or vegan butter, divided
- 3 cups white cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 t. baking powder
- 1 t. baking soda
- 1½ t. salt
- 1 T. sugar
- 3 cups plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 3 T. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- 5 T. ground flax seed, divided
- 1 cup warm water, divided
- 4 cups vegetable broth (or 2 vegetable bouillon cubes + 4 cups warm water)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- ½ bunch of celery, chopped (2 cups)
- 2 cups soft breadcrumbs
- 2 t. dried sage (or ⅓ cup fresh sage, finely chopped)
- 2 t. ground black pepper
- 6 delicata squash, halved and seeds removed
- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
- In a large liquid measuring cup or 1-quart bowl, mix the non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar together.
- Mix 2 T. of ground flax into ¼ cup of warm water in a small bowl, and let sit for 5 minutes to thicken.
- Melt ½ cup of refined coconut oil or vegan butter in a small pan or bowl.
- Mix all of the liquid ingredients together, then add to the dry ingredients, whisking to combine.
- Bake in a greased 12" cast iron skillet or 13x9 baking dish for 30 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven into a large bowl to cool.
- Mix the remaining ground flax and ¾ cup water into a small bowl and set aside.
- Melt remaining ¼ cup of refined coconut oil or vegan butter into a sauté pan over medium heat.
- Sauté the chopped celery and onion until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add in the sage and cook for 1 minute more. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Crumble the cooled cornbread with your hands, then add the ground flax mixture, onion/celery mixture, vegetable broth, and breadcrumbs, and stir until combined and thoroughly moistened.
- Stuff each squash half with the dressing mixture.
- Bake the stuffed squash at 375F for 40 minutes, until the dressing is browned on the top and the squash is tender.*
- Top with gravy and pomegranate arils, if desired, and enjoy alongside Protein-Packed Mashed Potatoes for a complete meal.
- Serves 6 (two squash halves per person) or 12 (if baking the dressing in a casserole).**
**If you want to make a smaller number of squash, halve 3 squash and use half to he mixture to stuff them. Place the remaining dressing mixture in an 8x8 baking dish and bake along with the squash for 40 minutes at 375F, or freeze/or refrigerate to bake later.