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Most people think Thanksgiving is supposed to be about indulgence, forgetting about your diet and enjoying the abundance of food with your nearest and dearest.
However, I understand that might not be the case for some people. We have a new friend coming to Thanksgiving this year, and she’s doing the keto diet. For those of you who don’t know, the ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb eating plan that enables your body to burn fat for energy. I’m all about the high-fat foods, but the low-carb part doesn’t sound fun, especially during the holidays.
In an effort to be inclusive of all my guests, I’m going to serve up a keto version of everyone’s favorite side dish ― traditional stuffing. I thought about making my own keto-friendly bread, but when I read the required ingredients I nixed that idea. I didn’t want to buy ingredients like whey protein isolate, psyllium husk or xanthan gum that I’d probably never use again. I’d rather substitute the bread with a nutrient-dense vegetable like cauliflower.
This recipe still has all of those familiar flavors we all know and love in our stuffing ― onions, celery, garlic, herbs, apples and sausage ― without the carbs. I like to incorporate roasted fennel into the dish as well to give it a subtle, sweet flavor. To me, the best part about stuffing is the crispy, browned bread on top. To replicate those missing crunchy bits, I add toasted sliced almonds.
Lastly, when everything is all cooked, I toss it with a little bit of apple cider vinegar to bring brightness and acidity to the vegetables. It’s my way of making up for the missing tang of the sourdough bread in a traditional stuffing.
Whether you’re on the keto diet, watching your carb intake or just looking for a new dish this Thanksgiving, give this cauliflower stuffing recipe a try.
Keto Cauliflower Stuffing
Serves 6 to 8
2 large heads cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 fennel bulb, cut in half then into 1/2-inch slices
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound loose pork sausage
4 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 red apple, peeled and diced into ½-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or grease with nonstick spray.
2. In a large bowl, stir together cauliflower florets, fennel slices and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and evenly spread between the baking sheets in a single layer. Add to oven and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until tender and nicely browned, tossing halfway through.
3. Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and sauté until cooked through and browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Break up the sausage with a spatula as it cooks. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
4. Add butter to the same pan the sausage cooked in. Add onion, celery, apple, garlic, thyme and sage. Season with salt and cook for 10 minutes, or until onion is softened.
5. In a large bowl, combine roasted cauliflower/fennel, cooked sausage and sautéed vegetables. Add fresh parsley, toasted almonds and apple cider vinegar. Toss to combine and check for seasoning. Add more salt if needed. Serve immediately.