What is Thanksgiving dinner without stuffing or dressing (which are the same thing)? I don't know because I have never had turkey without it. I also cannot remember the last time I had stuffing that was not cornbread-centric.
This year I decided to roast my turkey unstuffed in order to fill it with onions, garlic, and herbs. I considered throwing together a dressing in a casserole, which, if done right, can be delicious. Instead I wanted to make a dressing that was vegetarian, but flavorful and substantial enough to satisfy the non-turkey eaters.
Here is a savory bread pudding, made with butternut squash, cheese, and a healthy dose of garlic for a beautiful alternative to traditional stuffing which can also be served as a main dish to your vegetarian dinner guests. A nice crunch forms on the bottom of the pot for an extra treat. You could top this with gravy, but trust me - it doesn't need it!
1 small loaf artisan whole wheat or seed bread, cut into 2-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups fresh butternut squash (peeled and cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes)
1 small bulb shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups grated gruyere cheese
1 cup light cream
1 cup whole milk
1 egg plus one egg yolk
3 tablespoon unsalted butter
1. Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking pan with foil and spread out the bread cubes. Drizzle over the olive oil and toss to coat. Place in the oven and toast for 10-15 minutes, tossing halfway through. Remove from the oven and set aside.
2. Lower the oven temperature to 350F. Place a 5-quart heavy bottom dutch oven or oven safe pot over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the shallots and garlic, sautéing until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Raise the heat slightly and add the butternut squash and salute until slightly browned, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl beat together the egg, egg yolk, cream, milk, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the thyme and rosemary leaves.
4. Add the toasted bread and about 3/4 of the cheese to the pot with the butternut squash. Toss gently. Pour over the cream mixture and top with the remaining cheese. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes until bubbling and browned. Serve hot.