Stuffing goes meatless! This comforting vegan stuffing is made with deft seasoning, caramelized vegetables, and olive oil, cooked to golden perfection. Please the vegetarians at your holiday table without having to make a trip to a specialty store!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread out the bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake them for 15-20 minutes to dry them out, stirring once partway through. Take them out if they begin to brown. You can skip this step if your bread is already very dry and stale.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the onion, carrot, and celery, with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and starting to lightly caramelize, 7-10 minutes.
Add the garlic and chopped sage, stir, and cook for 60 seconds. Add the fresh thyme, poultry seasoning, paprika, pepper, red pepper flakes, and salt, and stir well. Cook for another 30-60 seconds, until aromatic.
Add the white wine and stir well, scraping around the bottom of the pan if needed to loosen any browned vegetable bits. Bring to a simmer and add the soy sauce and maple syrup, stirring well. Turn off the heat.
Lightly grease an 8x8 inch baking dish. Add the dried bread cubes to a mixing bowl along with the chopped chestnuts and fresh parsley. Add the mixture from the skillet to the bowl and fold together to combine. While slowly stirring, pour 1 cup of the vegetable broth into the bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of broth into the bread mixture and stir to combine. The bread cubes should be nice and moist at this point; if not, add a little bit more liquid. You want the bread to be evenly moistened but not to see excess liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Taste a piece of bread for seasoning and add more salt and pepper to the mixture as needed.
Spread out the bread mixture in an even layer in the prepared baking dish, and lightly drizzle more olive oil over the top. Cover the dish and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 25 minutes, or until firm and golden brown on top.
TYPE OF BREAD: Use something crusty with a little bit of flavor, like a baguette, sourdough loaf, or similar. If your bread is genuinely super stale, you can skip the first step of toasting it in the oven.TIP: Measure out the seasoning ingredients in advance. Things will move quickly once you start to add the spices and herbs!MAKE AHEAD: You can do the following steps in advance: make the skillet vegetable mixture; and dry out the bread cubes. Store the mixture from the skillet in a separate container, and you can even store the bread cubes, chestnuts and parsley mixed together in the greased baking dish. The day you want to serve this vegan stuffing, stir the skillet mixture and vegetable broth into the bread mixture and then bake it.MAPLE SYRUP: I think a faint hint of sweetness really brings all of these flavors together! Even better, if you happen to have it on hand, a dash of hickory syrup is amazing in this stuffing.