The holiday season is approaching, and I don’t know about you, but my carb consumption tends to go way up with all the delicious treats on offer. I’m happy to indulge from time to time, but I like to balance that with healthy dishes packed with seasonal vegetables. With that, let me introduce this Cauliflower Stuffing with Pecans and Sausage. It’s kind of a genius idea—just replace the bread in your favorite stuffing recipe with cauliflower. Same great stuffing flavors, but more vegetables and fewer carbs. Still comfort food at its finest!
In this recipe, I’m using some of my preferred stuffing ingredients: sausage, onion, celery, pecans, and a little white wine. Add some traditional spices like thyme and sage, and it feels like Thanksgiving! Now, for the question of where to bake your stuffing. I suppose it is called “stuffing” because it is usually stuffed in the turkey to bake, but I’m a separate baking dish kind of girl. I do love the extra turkey flavor in stuffing baked in the bird, but I enjoy much more a browned, crispy top on my stuffing. The difference in textures is delicious, and you don’t have to worry about poisoning your guests with salmonella.
How do you make Cauliflower Stuffing with Sausage and Pecans?
So let’s start. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius. Remove 3/4 lbs breakfast sausage from casings, and sauté in a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. (You don’t need a pan this big just to brown the sausage, but it will come in handy later when you add the rest of the ingredients.) Break up the sausage chunks with a spoon, and sauté until lightly browned, about 10 min. Then remove sausage from pan and set aside. If pan is dry, add 2 T. olive oil. If pan still contains sausage fat, add as much olive oil as you need to make 2 T. total fat.
Add 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped celery stalks, 3 chopped garlic cloves, and 1 chopped head of cauliflower to skillet and cook until softened and lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. When there are only a couple more minutes to go, stir in 1 t. fresh thyme, 1/2 t. dried sage, 1/2 t. salt, and 1/4 t. pepper.
Now add the sausage back in. Whisk 1 egg in a small bowl, then whisk in 1/4 c. wine and 1/4 c. chicken broth. When combined, pour into skillet and toss. Stir in chopped pecans.
Pour stuffing into 13 x 9 inch baking dish and bake for 15 min covered in foil. Remove the foil and bake for 20 more minutes, until top is browned and crispy. Garnish with some chopped celery leaves if you like. A perfect Thanksgiving recipe— even better than traditional stuffing!
Can you make Cauliflower Stuffing ahead of time?
With holiday events, it’s always useful to be able to make dishes ahead of time. You can prepare this stuffing dish several hours ahead, and leave it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake. If you want to make it a day or two before, I’d suggest you prep the ingredients in advance. Cook the sausage and chop the vegetables. Then you can either cook the vegetables in advance as well or refrigerate them separately and cook on the day you’re serving. When you’re ready to bake, you just stir together the stuffing ingredients in your casserole dish, toss with wine, chicken broth, and egg, and bake.
This cauliflower stuffing recipe is quite flexible. You can use any kind of sausage you like. Chorizo would make a delicious, though less-traditional substitute for breakfast sausage. Any kind of turkey or chicken sausage would work too. You could also choose to leave out the sausage entirely—if so, you’ll need to add some more olive oil to sauté the vegetables. Note to my France readers: I found herbed pork chipolatas at the pork vendor in the market, which worked just fine for this recipe.
Spices are also negotiable—you can use dried or fresh versions (double your amount if going from dried to fresh, and halve it if going from fresh to dried), and use herbes de provence, oregano, rosemary, or parsley. Replace pecans with almonds or toasted, peeled hazelnuts. And replace the wine with a tawny port or leave it out and replace with more chicken broth.
Now that you’ve got your holiday side dish sorted, you may be looking for some appetizers to go with your spread. If so, don’t miss my Cilantro-Lime Crab Salad on Paprika Toasts, my Smoked Salmon Potato Chips with Everything Bagel Seasoning, and my Charred Tomatillo and Red Onion Guacamole. You can find some delicious desserts here as well, including my Ultimate Blondies with Chocolate Chips, French Yogurt Cake with Almonds, and Almond Flour Chocolate Cookies.
- 3/4 lb breakfast sausage (340 g)
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 head cauliflower (about 1.5 lbs/725g), chopped
- 1 1/2 t. fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 t. dried sage
- 1/2 t. kosher salt
- 1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 c. chicken broth
- 1/4 c. white wine
- 3/4 c. chopped pecans (3oz/90g)
- celery leaves, chopped, for garnish (if desired)
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius.
- Remove sausage from casings, and place in a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté until lightly browned, breaking up the sausage chunks with a spoon, about 10 min. Remove from pan and set aside.
- If pan is dry, add 2 T. olive oil. If pan still contains sausage fat, add as much olive oil as you need to make 2 T. total fat.
- Add onions, celery, garlic, and cauliflower to skillet and cook until softened and lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. When there are only a couple more minutes to go, stir in thyme, sage, salt, and pepper.
- Now add the sausage back into the skillet.
- Whisk egg in a small bowl, then whisk in wine and chicken broth.
- When combined, pour into skillet and toss.
- Stir in chopped pecans.
- Pour stuffing into 13 x 9 inch baking dish and bake for 15 min covered with foil. Remove the foil and bake for 20 more minutes, until top is browned and crispy.
- Garnish with chopped celery leaves, if desired.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 282 Total Fat: 23g Saturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 17g Cholesterol: 60mg Sodium: 554mg Carbohydrates: 8g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 4g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 11g