I think stuffing needs a makeover. Traditional bread stuffing is one of my favorite holiday dishes but it would be nice to have a healthier alternative that I still want to eat. And maybe one that doesn’t put me to sleep after dinner. It’s not the tryptophan in the turkey, it’s all the starch and sugar that makes you want to take a nap. This quinoa yam stuffing is a perfect alternative to bread stuffing. It’s gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian friendly.
Quinoa makes a perfect base for this “stuffing” – it’s still satisfies the starch but has more protein and fiber with a wonderful nutty flavor. Even my meat and potatoes husband likes it. Some diced yam adds sweetness and the kale powers in with nutrients and beautiful color. In the background are those traditional stuffing flavors so it makes a great addition to your holiday feast.
Vegan Thanksgiving Dish
If I’m serving this as a main dish for vegans or vegetarians, I top it with some chopped walnuts and garnish with fresh parsley, thyme and/or sage. The walnuts make it feel more substantial and satisfying.
For some extra umami, (“meaty” flavor”), mushrooms make a great addition. Chop the mushrooms and add to the celery-onion mixture for the last 3-4 minutes of cooking time.
Garbanzo beans can also add some protein as well and won’t add any extra cooking on your part. Drain and rinse a 15 oz can of garbanzos, spread them on an absorbent kitchen towel to dry and stir them in,
How to Cook Quinoa
If you are new to quinoa, I have a video tutorial on How to Cook Quinoa. It is really easy. If you can boil water and set a timer you’ll have no problem! The cooking method is similar to cooking rice but much more fool-proof. Too, sticky, too, dry, too mushy is not really an issue when cooking quinoa, so don’t be intimidated
This dish does well when made a day or two ahead. The flavors will only get better and it is easily reheated on the day of your meal.
To quickly cool the prepared dish, transfer it to a baking sheet and spread it out. This quinoa yam stuffing can be reheated in the microwave uncovered or in the oven, covered with tin foil
Quinoa Yam “Stuffing”
- 1 lb yams
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 cup chicken broth stock or vegetable broth (for vegetarian/vegan, I love Imagine No Chicken Broth)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 medium-sized onion
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 Tbsp butter or vegan butter
- 1/2 tsp salt or 3/4 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried sage
- fresh parsley, thyme and or sage
- See notes below for vegan/vegetarian main dish options.
- Dice the yam into 1/2 inch cubes. Mince the onion and celery. Remove the stalks from the kale and chop into bite-sized pieces.
- In a medium-sized pot melt the butter or butter substitute. Add the onion and celery and cook over medium-high heat until softened. You’re not looking to brown them, just soften. So if they start to brown, lower the heat.
- Add the quinoa and stir well. Give the pot a shake to spread the quinoa out. Heat it about 3 minutes stirring every 15 seconds to toast it. This will bring out the nutty flavor of the quinoa.
- Add the water, broth, salt and a couple pinches of pepper and turn up the heat. When it comes to a boil, cover the pot and turn the flame down as low as it will go. Set the timer for 15 minutes.
- While the quinoa is cooking, heat a large skillet over high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add a light coating of vegetable oil. Add the yams, turn the heat to medium and cook, tossing every couple of minutes for 12-15 minutes or until they are cooked through.
- When the timer sounds, check the quinoa. Use a fork to push the quinoa aside to see if there is any liquid left on the bottom. If there is still some liquid, continue cooking until it is absorbed.
- Then stir in the kale, sage and thyme, cover the pot and let sit (off the heat) for 5 minutes. This will wilt the kale nicely. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Stir in the yams or plate the quinoa mixture and frame with the yams for a pretty presentation.
- Top with fresh herbs.