Wild Rice Stuffing

This wild rice stuffing was inspired by a Christmas stuffing made by Giada de Laurentiis. I cooked it for my family’s Christmas dinner and it was a hit and it had bacon in it. So, of course, I had to make some modifications to make it Daniel-fast friendly, with a few more personal touches like the no-salt seasoning because I like lots of flavor. My way of cooking rice is to lightly sauté the rice before adding the liquid. It’s the way my mother taught me and I’m not about to change it. The original recipe calls for mushrooms but I didn’t have any in my fridge and was too lazy to run to the store to get some. Therefore, I simply omitted them, although mushrooms do add a nice, almost meaty element to this rice dish if you do care to use them. This vegan version was a fresh upgrade to plain brown rice. All of a sudden, rice and beans becomes more interesting. My two-year old daughter, who happens to be going through her picky-eater stage, actually dug right in. I think she particularly loved the cranberries and crunchy nuts. I was impressed!

Ingredients:
1 cup short-grain brown rice
1 cup wild rice
4 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon no-salt seasoning
2 tablespoons grape seed or coconut oil
1/2 bag frozen pearl onions or about 1 cup
1 cup mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 cup Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 cup asparagus, sliced
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (optional)
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
1/2 cup dried cranberries
salt and pepper to taste

Directions for rice:
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan or casserole pan. Add the brown and wild rice and lightly sauté the rice until it starts becoming translucent. Next, season with salt and pepper, sprinkle in the seasoning and thyme, and pour in the liquid. Bring the broth to a boil and then cover and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the liquid has been completely absorbed.

Directions for vegetables:
In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the frozen pearl onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until they begin to brown slightly. Add the mushrooms next, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft. Add the rest of the vegetables, season with salt and pepper, and pour a dash of balsamic vinegar. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until Brussels sprouts begin to brown and the vinegar starts to caramelize.
Finally, toss the rice and vegetables together. Garnish with toasted nuts and cranberries.
Serves 6-8.

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