This homemade stuffing is the perfect autumn side dish for Thanksgiving! Stuffed with butternut squash, cranberries, and (surprise!) lentils! This may sound like the weirdest combination, but stay with me guys. It's so good!
For the lentils
cups dry green lentils
and 1/4 cups water
clove garlic, smashed and minced (or 1 teaspoon from a jar)
teaspoon dried sage*
teaspoon dried thyme*
pepper to taste
teaspoon salt (add after lentils are cooked)
For the rest
loaf day-old French bread, torn (about 8 cups)*
tablespoons salted butter
cups butternut squash, chopped bite size
large onion, chopped
cups celery, chopped
teaspoons kosher salt
and 1/2 teaspoons pepper
tablespoon dried parsley*
teaspoons dried sage*
cloves garlic, smashed and minced
and 1/2 cups dried cranberries
tablespoons salted butter
cups chicken broth
Rinse and pick through the lentils. Place them in a small pot and add 2 and 1/4 cups of water, the bay leaf, 1 clove garlic, 1/2 teaspoon sage, 1/4 teaspoon thyme, and some pepper. (NO SALT!)
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When the water is at a rolling boil, lower the heat to low and cover the pot. Set a timer for about 10 minutes and leave it alone.
Taste test the lentils. They should be tender but still a bit firm. You don't want them turning into mush, mushy lentils are a mess. If they taste at all chalky, keep cooking.
When the lentils are tender, add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Remove the bay leaf and set aside. Leave the lid on.
Meanwhile, toast the bread. (You can skip this step if you left your chopped bread out overnight. It needs to be nice and dry so that it can absorb all the chicken broth we're about to pour all over it.) Heat your oven to 300 degrees F. Tear or chop your bread into bite-size pieces, it doesn't need to be perfect. Spread out onto a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes at 300. Remove from the oven and set aside. Turn the oven up to 350.
In a large high-sided skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium high heat. When it is hot, add butternut squash, onion, and celery. Season with 2 teaspoons salt, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pepper, parsley, and 2 teaspoons dried sage.
Saute for about 10-15 minutes, until the butternut is fork tender but not mushy. Taste it and adjust seasonings to your taste.
Stir in 2 cloves garlic, dried cranberries (if using fresh herbs, add them now), and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
Stir in 6 tablespoons butter until melted. Turn off the heat.
Spray a 9x13 inch casserole dish with nonstick spray.
In a very large bowl, add the toasted bread, lentils, and butternut squash mixture.
Pour the chicken broth over the stuffing and stir.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared 9x13 inch pan.
Cover the pan with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes, until the top has browned. I broiled the top of mine for about 2 minutes, but that's only because I'm obsessed with crispy toppings. Totally optional.
by The Food Charlatan
I haven't tried it yet, but it would be really easy to make this recipe ahead of time. Toast bread up to 1 week ahead and store in large sealed ziplock at room temperature. Up to 2 days ahead, prepare butternut squash mixture and lentils; toss with bread and broth. Transfer to greased baking dish; cover with foil and refrigerate. When ready to heat, bake in a 325°F oven on the bottom rack (below the turkey) for 35 minutes covered, then 35 minutes uncovered.
*I put the measurements for dried herbs, but you can easily use fresh herbs. I tested it both ways and thought they were both great. When cooking the lentils, add 1 sprig of thyme before cooking (in step 1). Add 1 tablespoon fresh sage after the lentils are cooked (when you add the salt in step 4). To add fresh herbs to the butternut squash mixture: when you add the garlic and cranberries in step 8, also add 3 tablespoons parsley, 2 tablespoons sage, and 1 tablespoon thyme.