Contemplating my holiday menu, I thought about many friends (besides us) who have adopted a gluten-free lifestyle. I wondered what they would do instead of a traditional dressing made with wheat bread. Here is my savory solution: gluten-free cornbread cranberry dressing. Everyone will eat well, and your gluten-free guests will be both happy and relieved that they can enjoy.
Tradition Minus the Wheat
Traditional bread-based dressing may be a traditional side dish for turkey, ham, roast pork or beef, but if you must follow, or feel better, on a gluten-free diet, that tradition doesn’t work. Gluten-free cornbread dressing is a terrific solution. Filled with lots of aromatic vegetables, herbs and sweet dried cranberries to accompany the dried cornbread cubes, this dressing has great flavor and texture.
Last week I posted the recipe for my gluten-free cornbread. This is the basis for the dressing. You can make it up to two days ahead. After baking and cooling, cut the cornbread into small cubes and allow the cubes to dry for about 24 hours uncovered. Place in an airtight container until ready to make the dressing.
Prep Vegetables Ahead
To save time, prep your vegetables a day ahead. Chop and mix together the leek, celery, fennel, onion and keep refrigerated until you want to prepare the dressing recipe. I make my dressing barely moist. If you prefer a wet or very moist dressing, increase your liquid a bit. I use milk. You can use almond milk or broth (vegetable, chicken, or turkey).
The day of your dinner, complete the dressing recipe and bake for a total of about 50-60 minutes. If you like a browned crisp top, take the foil off the last few minutes. Keep warm until serving time. Leftovers are good the next day and even work for breakfast with scrambled eggs.
Notes – Before you make this recipe, read my post and the recipe for gluten-free cornbread.
The pan I use is a 6 quart All Clad stainless steel saute pan. It’s a handy size for cooking larger quantities without crowding.
Cornbread Cranberry Dressing
- 1 recipe gluten-free cornbread or regular cornbread
- 1 medium leek
- 1/2 medium onion
- 2 large celery ribs
- 1 small fennel bulb
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
- 2 large cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries 2 ounces
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- 2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme
- 1 egg beaten
- 1/2 cup milk regular or alternative
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Start a day or two ahead by baking the gluten-free cornbread. When the cornbread has cooled completely, cut it into slices about 1/2″ wide, then cut it into small cubes. Place the cubes onto a rimmed baking sheet and allow the cornbread cubes to air dry, uncovered, for about 24 hours. Place dried cubes in an air tight container and set aside until you are ready to finish the dressing
Prep your vegetables. For the leek, trim the root end and dark top greens off the leek. Split the leek lengthwise in half, then each half again into a quarter. Cut into thin slices. Wash under cold running water to clean any sand or dirt. Onion: Chop into small dice.
- Celery: cut the ribs in halves or quarters, depending on size, then crosswise into small pieces.
- Fennel: trim ribs off of the bulb and discard. Cut a thin slice off of the bottom root end. Cut the bulb in half, then each half into thin slices. Chop the slices into small pieces.
- In a large saute pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the leek, onion, celery and fennel and cook until the vegetables are soft and translucent, about 7-10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add the garlic and sauté another 1 minute. Add salt and pepper.
- Add the dried cornbread cubes and mix in gently. Add the cranberries, parsley, thyme, and the beaten egg and milk. Mix gently.
- Spoon dressing into a 2-3 quart casserole or gratin dish. Cover with foil. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes for a golden top.