October 18, 2008

A Week Late: Cornbread Stuffing With Pears And Pecans

by IsaChandra

I made this for the VeganMofo Iron Chef challenge last week but I’m only getting around to posting it now. Not because I didn’t have time, I always think that excuse is bullshit no matter who says it, but because I am so overwhelmed with stuff that I’m forced to sit on the couch and watch 30 Rock marathons like a deer caught in headlights. But I really loved this stuffing so I am going to go ahead and tell you about it – better late than never!

I almost caved and made something sweet out of the challenge ingredients – which were pears and nuts. How badly I wanted an almond pear tart or pear and pecan muffins. But I stuck to the mysterious and unnecessary promise I made to myself of only savory dishes for the Iron Chef challenges and then there I was – stuffing!

I have to admit the stuffing I grew up on was the boxed variety that comes to life in a pot of boiling water much like one of those sponge animals that’s born in a capsule and grows before your very eyes. And I actually like that boxed stuff, that is the sad part – I have no quarrel with the taste. But it’s one of those things, like fast food french fries, that I know is a government plot to short circuit our tastebuds and beat them into culinary submission. Making my own stuffing is definitely a part of breaking free THX1138 style or whatever dystopia you choose.

Using fruit in stuffing is a time honored tradition and doesn’t make the stuffing as sweet as you might think. It adds a bit of a cidery taste and heightens the flavors of thyme and sage. Toasting the pecans intensifies the flavor and makes them pretty addictive – make a few extra just to pop into your mouth.

I stuffed my stuffing into a baked acorn squash half and that was pretty awesome, but you can just use it as a side or in any other way people use stuffing. And here’s a tip: make the cornbread into muffins so that they bake faster and cool faster so you can get dinner on the table faster.

Cornbread Stuffing With Pears And Pecans

Serves 8

1 recipe PPK cornbread or Veganomicon cornbread or your favorite recipe from a 9×13 pan

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cippolini onions, diced medium (use whatever onion you like – about 2 cups once chopped)

1 cup pecans

1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme (keep the soft stems on, just ditch the woody ones)

1/2 teaspoon celery seed
2 teaspoons dried sage

1 teaspoon salt
fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup vegetable broth

2 red bartlett pears, sliced in 1/4 inch slices (use whatever pear you’ve got)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut cornbread into roughly 3/4 inch pieces. Place on a baking sheet and toast for about 15 minutes, flipping about halfway through. Remove from oven.

In the meantime, toast the pecans. Preheat a large heavy bottomed pan over medium low heat. Add the pecans and toast for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often, until they smell toasty and are a few shades darker. Transfer to a bowl and roughly chop once cooled – I like to keep the pieces relatively large.

In the same pan over medium heat, saute onion in olive oil for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Add the herbs to the pan and saute for about a minutes. Add the cornbread and spinkle in salt and pepper. Mix with a spatula, it’s fine if you break the cornbread up with a spatula a bit. Drizzle in the oil and vegetable broth. If it seems to dry add a little extra veggie broth.

Fold in the apples and pecans. Transfer to a lightly greased 9×13 pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until the top is lightly browned.

And don’t forget to check out what everyone else came up with last week. This weeks challenge is hosted by kittee and she chose sushi, which I’m afraid I am going to miss.

  • October 18, 2008 at 3:23 pm: Kristin

    Did you bake the stuffing in the acorn squash? And if so, did you prebake the squash?

    Or did you just serve the stuffing in the baked squash?

  • October 18, 2008 at 3:53 pm: JohnP

    I love stuffing and acorn squash – this looks great!

  • October 18, 2008 at 4:16 pm: IsaChandra

    I didn’t bake the stuffing in the squash. I baked both separately and then stuffed the squash and baked it for like 10 more minutes so that it wasn’t completely cheating.

  • October 18, 2008 at 5:59 pm: dances


  • October 18, 2008 at 6:30 pm: kittee

    whoa. here’s what i posted in the thread in veganmofo:
    i can’t participate this week, but if i could, here’s what i’d make:
    cornbread dressing with seasoned caramelized onions, pears and pecans stuffed into marinated tofu pockets, breaded and pan fried.

    soul sistah!


  • October 18, 2008 at 6:43 pm: IsaChandra

    kittee, that is so weird!

  • October 18, 2008 at 7:41 pm: Lori

    I love the idea of baking the squash in muffin form! Quick AND in portions!

  • October 18, 2008 at 9:40 pm: Kiersten

    This sounds amazing Isa. I will definitely be making this one.

  • October 18, 2008 at 11:42 pm: Joanna

    i like this. i really really like this. my grandma just gave me a Harry and David pear, so this would be the perfect dish to use it in.

  • October 19, 2008 at 8:14 am: Jeni Treehugger

    Mmmm…that looks sooo good.

    (I like the package stuffing too)

  • October 19, 2008 at 2:37 pm: bex

    this sounds so ridiculously good! excuse me while I drool on my desk. I love autumn!

  • October 20, 2008 at 12:56 am: amey

    i would just like to say how much I used to love those sponge animals. perhaps they are not vegan? what’s that capsule made of anyway??

  • October 20, 2008 at 4:26 pm: Sheree

    This looks so good! Oh my goodness!

  • October 20, 2008 at 5:08 pm: lazysmurf

    What a beautiful picture! This is almost exactly what I would have made if I had made something for this challenge! I think maybe I have read your cookbooks so much that your style is starting to vicariously affect my brain which is wonderful!

  • October 23, 2008 at 3:32 pm: Terry

    Yay cornbread pecan stuffing! It’s the best food in the entire world I swear. So happy there’s celery seed in it, you have no idea.

  • October 23, 2008 at 6:52 pm: Victoria

    Ooh that looks very yummy! I want to make it!

  • October 25, 2008 at 4:24 am: Adele

    That looks really good!

    I must say that, as an Australian, this ‘stuffing’ business is all a bit strange to me. It’s just not something we do… I’d honestly never seen it until last Thanksgiving, on American vegan blogs. It’s strange how really traditional, ordinary dishes can be completely bizarre for someone from a country that isn’t even all that different.

  • November 3, 2008 at 12:35 pm: Acaciah


  • March 14, 2009 at 4:42 am: kitchens

    hmm.. i always love stuffing.. and the idea of baking the squash in muffin form seems delicious.. cool, it looks yummy

  • May 26, 2012 at 10:49 pm: Suzanne Byron

    Isa, I not only love love loooove your recipes as I feel our taste buds are on the same page but I love you commentary, your point of view, and your zero tolerance for lame excuses. you rock Isa!

  • August 17, 2012 at 4:54 pm: Ellie

    So, I know it’s months and months later, but I made this for Thanksgiving last year, and it tasted great, but was really dry. Any ideas what I might have done wrong, or ideas for how to retain moisture? Oven time is at a premium, due to the family turkey carcass (and my little Tofurky), so I bake this early in the morning for a meal around 4. I want to try again next year and prove my little sister wrong that vegan food is always subpar (yes, almost a year later and she still brings this stuffing up).

  • October 16, 2012 at 4:36 pm: Mary

    Heads up, I think there’s a typo in the recipe. It says to “fold in the apples and pecans” where (I assume) it should say “fold in the pears and pecans.”

    That said, I’m kind of excited about that typo because now I’m going to make this stuffing with pears, pecans, AND apples!

  • November 16, 2012 at 3:05 am: charity

    SO GOOD! was a little intimidated, but wanted to try before Thanksgiving.. delish, will make again and again

  • December 23, 2012 at 6:13 pm: Debbie

    I roasted portabella mushrooms then topped with the stuffing. Roasted another 15 min. Even non-vegans loved at Thanksgiving. Thank you!

  • September 11, 2013 at 9:45 am: Claire

    Does the cornbread need to be freshly made that day for this, or is it good with half a week old cornbread ???

  • October 25, 2013 at 12:22 am: Lizzydgreat

    Could this one be made a day ahead of time? Looking for Thanksgiving recipes that I could cook a day ahead of time so as to avoid cooking in the horrible room they call a kitchen at my mother-in-law’s house.

  • November 29, 2014 at 1:41 pm: Christina

    I loved this recipe! The acorn squash is a great idea.

  • February 10, 2015 at 2:23 pm: Vegan Donkey

    I haven’t tried this recipe yet — I have been waiting to learn to make flan first, but it looks good so far! I wanted to make this for my uncle, who is moving back home with family but we are still in communication and I hope some warm baked goods will help to cheer him. He is still very dedicated, and interested in learning to cook too.

  • December 2, 2015 at 10:27 pm: Laura

    Isa, you would probably be thinner if you just stopped using oil. There are many substitutions available, such as applesauce, bean juice (aqua faba), bananas, tofu, nut butters. I’m pretty sure it is also healthier to cut the oils out of our life. Even butter (which I don’t advocate) is healthier than oil. Canola is one of the worst of the bad.

  • January 2, 2016 at 5:30 am: Anita

    Wait, you too?

  • January 2, 2016 at 5:33 am: Anita

    (I was referring to watching 30 Rock:)