Normally in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving I’d be excitedly planning a menu, bookmarking recipes and testing desserts (quality control, right?).
This year, because of the DI, the holiday will be abbreviated, and if I’m being honest, days of cooking beforehand will be the last thing I want to do. Mom and I are going to Candle79 for our meal, and if I can take the rest of the day to put my feet up on her sofa and watch something silly on TV, I’ll call it a holiday very well spent.
This doesn’t mean that I can’t allow the holiday excitement to wash over me a bit beforehand: it just needs to happen in small waves. In the next couple week, I plan to work some festive and traditional recipes into my usual weekly batch cooking routine, so that even if I don’t cook up a feast of my own on Thanksgiving day, I still take the time to commemorate the holiday in my kitchen. This wild rice vegan stuffing with roasted sweet potato & apple is where I’m starting.
I’ve been thinking about the combination of roasted sweet potatoes and apples in a stuffing dish since I made this hash. I’ve got a huge weakness for sweet and savory food, and when I made that dish, I quickly fell in love with the combination of stovetop cooked onions and roasted root veggies/fruit.
Here, there’s also rice for texture and heft, fresh herbs (rosemary and thyme, but sage would also be good), and the addition of pomegranate arils at the very end for some festive holiday color.
You can see some Thanksgiving-friendly sides—roasted Brussels sprouts and roasted root vegetables—peeking out in the background! These were pre-cut and ready to bake, thanks to the prepared vegetable options at my local Whole Foods Market 365 in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn.
I love shopping at this place. It’s the same experience as shopping at a regular Whole Foods Market, but with a few key differences: the store is a little smaller and easier to navigate, and the focus is on the 365 line of products, which maintains an affordable price point. Plus, there are always a ton of products on sale or available at special discounts. Amazon Prime members get exclusive savings, as well as an extra 10% off hundreds of items every day; shoppers can just download the Whole Foods Market app and start saving. When I shop at WFM I tend to gravitate toward the 365 line of products anyway, so the Ft. Greene store gives me a simplified shopping trip, and it features some local business and products (like Bread Alone and Orwasher’s breads).
The only downside? Most of the time, Fort Greene is well out of my way, which makes it hard to head out there for weekly grocery hauls! Right now, though, the store is on my way home; I’ve got a long commute from the hospital I’m working at in East Brooklyn to my place. A trip to Whole Foods Market 365 is a great way to break it up.
The store, as well as sister WFM stores in the city, will be featuring grab n’ go holiday sides that are already pre-cooked, as well as prepared vegan pumpkin pie (!). For me, the cut, seasoned, and ready-to-roast veggies are already a terrific time-saver, for holiday cooking just as much for weekly DI batch cooking, and I was thrilled to have them in my fridge this week. Along with my new favorite stuffing.
Wild Rice Vegan Stuffing with Roasted Sweet Potato & Apple
- 2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil such as safflower or grapeseed
- 1 pound scrubbed sweet potatoes cut into ~1/2 inch cubes
- 1 pound apples any flavor, cut into ~1/2 inch cubes/pieces
- 1 cup dry wild rice or a wild rice blend (I used the 365 wild rice blend, which is a combination of wild rice and brown basmati)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large white or yellow onion chopped
- 3 large or 4 smaller stalks celery, chopped
- 1 shallot chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary chopped (or 2 teaspoons dry)
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dry
- 3/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon salt plus extra to season the roasted potatoes/apple
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1-2 tablespoons sherry vinegar to taste
- 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
- Preheat the oven to 400F and line two baking sheets with parchment. Toss the potatoes and apple with the vegetable oil and transfer to the baking sheets. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes, or until the vegetables are browning and tender. Remove the vegetables from heat.
- While the vegetables roast (or beforehand if it's easier), cook the rice according to package instructions.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and shallot. Cook, stirring often, for 5-8 minutes, or until the onion is soft and clear. Stir in the rosemary and thyme. Fold in the cooked rice, sweet potatoes, and apple. Add the 1/2 teaspoon salt and the vegetable broth. Heat everything through, stirring as you go.
- Add the sherry vinegar and a big pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Transfer the stuffing to a serving dish and top with the pomegranate arils. Enjoy!
In addition to being tasty and perfectly in keeping with the flavors of the season and holiday, the stuffing is really easy to make. If I were to make it again before Thanksgiving—which I probably will—I’d cook the rice ahead of time, and maybe even roast the veggies beforehand, so that it could all come together on the stovetop quickly.
Speaking of piecemeal cooking processes and advance prep, I’ve gotten a few requests for a comprehensive post on my batch cooking process. It may take me a while to pull together, but I’d love to follow up on that! Batch cooking has made the DI experience smooth sailing from a food perspective, and it would be fun to share what I’ve learned (and to answer any questions you have).
I’ve had years where I made a scratch cooked feast for my mom and me, and it was a pleasure. There’s a time and place for that, and there are also years to take a break from cooking, or to let some handy culinary helpers (like pre-cut veggie sides, or particularly low-key recipes) do the work. This is one of those years, and I think it’s going to be a sweet holiday.
Wishing you a great rest of the week. “See” you this weekend!
This post is sponsored by Whole Foods Market 365. All opinions are my own. Thanks for your support!