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Those flavors we remember so fondly may have been savory, sage-infused, and earthy, or perhaps they were sweet, fruity, and spicy. Each year I debate whether to prepare a savory stuffing or one more focused on the fruity side.
This year I've settled my own conundrum by uniting both sides of the sweet-savory debate and adding one of my very favorite foods of the autumn season--CHESTNUTS!
If you don't have the time to cook and peel fresh chestnuts, you can find them already prepared in jars. Avoid the canned chestnuts packed in water--they simply don't have the alluring taste and texture of vacuum-packed chestnuts.
This scrumptious stuffing, replete with chestnuts, is so fruity and ravishing, it makes a delicious meal by itself. Enjoy it as a side dish or use it to stuff acorn, butternut, or Delicata squash.
For convenience, prepare the stuffing a day ahead, and warm it for 10 to 15 minutes in a preheated 350-degree F. oven before serving. If you use fresh chestnuts in the shell, cook and peel them in advance also, to bring this recipe together more easily.
Because this tasty stuffing recipe is very copious, there will most likely be leftovers that can easily be covered with aluminum foil and reheated. For a small family gathering, you might want to cut the recipe in half.
Oh, and by the way, this delicious recipe is from my Vegan for the Holidays cookbook!
SAVORY CHESTNUT AND FRUIT STUFFING
Yield: 12 to 15 hearty servings
2/3 cup (160 ml) pearl barley
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
8 cups (2 liters) whole wheat bread cubes
2 1/2 cups (600 ml) vegetable broth
3 large sweet onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 large apples, cored and chopped
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) chopped cooked and peeled chestnuts, or pecans, or walnuts
1 cup (240 ml) golden raisins
3/4 cup (180 ml) sweetened dried cranberries
3/4 cup (180 ml) chopped dried apricots (preferably Turkish)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons white miso