Monday, November 24, 2008

Giving Thanks Recipes: Starchy Side Dishes

The past few years I have made a delicious, savory wild rice stuffing for the big Thanksgiving Day turkey. We always use half of it to stuff the turkey and the other half gets baked in a casserole dish. I have not had a recipe for this until today. I usually just toss it all together until it tastes just right.

While preparing this at our holiday cooking class last week, I had a number of people ask me for exact measurements, which I just could not give. So today, I dutifully measured every ingredient before I put them into the skillet. The end result was perfection. We enjoyed the stuffing as a main dish for dinner tonight along with the simple additions of braised kale, steamed green beans, and steamed fingerling potatoes.

During dinner we offered our 3-year old daughter some fingerling potatoes and she promptly replied that she doesn't eat fingers! I just had to share that little bit of 3-year old wisdom.

The stuffing can easily be made a day ahead of time for all of you who are super organized and like to plan. For those of you who are new to gluten-sensitivity, please remember that your Turkey is not gluten-free if it has bread (made with wheat) stuffing inside of it. If you are going to be attending another Thanksgiving dinner then you can suggest to have the cook use a rice stuffing or you may just need to enjoy some of the other side dishes that are naturally gluten-free.

Wild Rice Stuffing

A delicious, savory addition to your holiday table or to be enjoyed anytime! This recipe makes enough to stuff one turkey and fill one medium casserole dish.

1 cup wild rice
1 cup long grain brown rice
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cups chopped red onion
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 to 2 teaspoons dried sage
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups chopped mushrooms
2 to 3 cups chopped celery
1 cup pecans
1/2 to 1 cup dried cranberries
1 apple, diced (I used Honeycrisp)
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
Herbamare or sea salt, to taste
In a medium pot with a tight-fitting lid, add the wild rice, brown rice, and stock. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes. Let stand in the pot for at least 15 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for about 5 or 6 minutes until softened. Then add herbs, mushrooms, and celery. Sauté 5 minutes more. Turn off heat and add the pecans, cranberries, apple, and parsley. Stir in cooked rice. Add salt to taste.

Place some of the stuffing in the cavity of the turkey and the rest into a covered casserole dish. The stuffing can then be baked in a 350 degree oven for about 35 to 40 minutes.

When it comes to roasting the turkey, I usually layer onion slices, celery, and plenty of fresh herbs on the bottom of the pan just beneath the turkey. Then fill the pan with about 1/4 inch of water. These flavors infuse into the turkey and drippings during roasting for a rich, savory flavor. I also like to brine a turkey using salt, apple cider, and herbs. 

Don't be afraid of salt. I generously salt the top of the turkey with Herbamare, which is a flavorful herb-infused sea salt. A few dashes of olive oil and a handful of chopped herbs are sprinkled over the top for more flavor.

When it comes to making the gravy, the flavors are already full-bodied from the stuffing, celery and onions, herbs, and your generous amount of salt. It just needs to be thickened. I use arrowroot powder for this. Just mix it in a little water before adding it to the drippings. I use about 1 tablespoon arrowroot per 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups of drippings. Whisk over medium-low heat until thickened and translucent.

Though freshly made mashed potatoes are naturally gluten-free, they often contain heavy amounts of dairy. For a lighter, dairy-free version, I leave some of the cooking water in the pot, then add Herbamare and extra virgin olive oil and beat with an electric mixer. My dad makes these with the addition of a full head of roasted garlic - delicious!

Stay tuned for desserts and tips for a safe Gluten-Free Thanksgiving!

Happy Holidays!

About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. Thanks Ali! You are truly a KG (Kitchen Goddess!) I can't wait to make this stuffing again, as the flavor has been with me since your class ;)I have to say that my favorite potatoes to mash are Yukon golds. I use potato flour to thicken the gravy. What are your KG thoughts on potato vs arrowroot?

  2. Haven't heard of herbamare salt, yet will check it out. Apple 5-Spice artisan salt (made with Fleur de Sel, a reduced apple cider, and star anise) would also be a lovely finishing salt for your turkey. It works with potatoes and pies too.

    It is carried by:

  3. Jenna -

    I love arrowroot powder, my intuitions say that it is much more nourishing and gentle to the digestive tract than cornstarch or potato flour. Plus you have to think where the potato flour came from. Most conventionally grown potatoes are full of pesticide residues. I have not seen organic potato flour.

    My favorite potatoes to mash are Yukon golds also, I just love the creaminess and sweet flavor.

    Thanks for your comment! -Ali :)

  4. Thanks Anon for the artisian salt tip - I will have to check it out!

  5. Thank you Ali for the wonderful recipes. I was wondering if you could also post some basic instructions on how to roast a turkey, for those coming from abroad that never made turkey before. Thanks a lot!

  6. Pavlina -

    I added a link above to Martha Stewart's website on how to roast a turkey. Thought I would leave that to the experts! :)

  7. Thanks for your amazing recipes! I can't wait to prepare an array of new recipes for the holidays. Our Thanksgiving table will be laden with all of the great recipes you provided to us. And your words of wisdom made me stop and think how thankful I am for my family and my health. Thanks for all you do to keep all of us healthy!

  8. I LOVE your website! Thank you for all of your dedication and information. I am am mom of 2 and in awe of your ability to cook like this and care for 5. I am going to try this stuffing recipe... looks like the dried cranberries would give this dish a lot of flavor. I can't find any without sugar added except for apple juice sweetened ones by Eden organics, but they are so expensive for a small quantity. I would love to know what type you use!


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Thanks and Happy Cooking! ~Ali :)