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13 Nov

Breadless Cauliflower and Mushroom Stuffing

The name says it all. Stuffing, when made with the traditional loaf of bread, is a heavy addition to the holiday table that can leave you feeling, well, stuffed. As if the table weren’t already collapsing under the weight of a giant bird and a half-dozen side-dishes, tradition demands that a big dish of what is essentially just a loaf of bread cut up into pieces, be included, too. Well, phooey on tradition. We’re not saying that stuffing shouldn’t be served at all, we’re just saying, why limit yourself to stuffing made with bread?

The attributes that make stuffing so popular – a mild, comforting flavor and rich, indulgent texture – can be achieved with all sorts of different ingredients. Our favorite combination this holiday season is a buttery blend of cauliflower, mushrooms and leeks baked until soft and caramelized and covered with an intensely nutty blend of hazelnuts and fresh herbs.

Just like all your friends and relatives will be showing up for Thanksgiving dinner barely recognizable in their best duds, the cauliflower in this dish undergoes a similar transformation. This is not the plain, crunchy cruciferous you’ve become accustomed to and even grown to love despite a slightly sulfuric aroma. For this stuffing, the long cooking time and co-mingling with other ingredients transforms the cauliflower into something extra special. We’re tempted to give hazelnuts all the credit. While roasting nuts for long periods of time is not recommended on a regular basis because of possible oxidation, roasting them for added flavor in the occasional holiday dish should be enjoyed, not over-analyzed. The roasted hazelnuts in this stuffing bring a rich texture and a depth of flavor that just can’t be achieved with raw nuts.

Along these same lines, but with a totally different flavor, Fruit and Nut Stuffing is another holiday option. In fact, these two types of stuffing are different enough that both can grace the table if you like. So go ahead, put two bowls of stuffings on your table this year and enjoy them both without any guilt.


  • 3/4 cup butter (or olive oil)
  • 1 pound crimini mushrooms, cut in half
  • 1 leek
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a sauté pan over medium heat, melt 1/4 cup of butter and sauté mushrooms, leek and celery for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms soften a bit. Combine with cauliflower florets in a 13×9 inch rimmed baking pan.

In a food processor, combine hazelnuts, juice of one lemon, lemon zest, garlic, thyme, parsley, salt and 1/4 cup of melted butter.

Pulse until the mixture is well-blended and the hazelnuts are in tiny pieces, but it’s not nearly as smooth as a paste.

Spoon the mixture on the top of the cauliflower and mushrooms and mix well.

Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, stirring occasionally. Raise the heat to 375 degrees and bake another 35-45 minutes, stirring several times so the stuffing does not burn or stick to the pan. It is these last 35-45 minutes that are crucial to finishing the dish. The hazelnuts will brown and lose moisture, becoming caramelized and a bit crunchy again.

This stuffing can be baked a day ahead and then covered and re-heated before serving. Right before serving, squeeze the juice of the remaining lemon top and add more salt if needed.

You want comments? We got comments:

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  1. This went over really well at Thanksgiving today, thanks!

    Bread wrote on November 25th, 2010
  2. I made a trial run a few days ago and then another batch today. I noticed that not all the butter was accounted for and added the other 1/4 cup dotted on top at the end and it seemed to be great. I used a fresh thyme, sage and smidge of rosemary.

    pseudowit wrote on November 25th, 2010
  3. I made this for Thanksgiving. It’s an awesome way to prepare cauliflower but it in no way resembles stuffing/ dressing. Truthfully I was really hoping for something that would approximate that hearty, chewy mouth-feel.

    LXV wrote on November 26th, 2010
  4. Yep, I added sage too, and it was awesome. I also didn’t have a lemon so I just added more (!) butter. It turned out great and I really think it was barely discernible from the bread stuffing.

    slesca wrote on November 28th, 2010
  5. yummy! this was deee-lish!
    I was thankful to be the only “primal” at the table – didn’t have to share 😉
    And, it was good with the giblet gravy on it too!!
    I’m making this every yr. I bet it’s good in the bird too, but I stuffed mine with onions, garlic, celery, sage, thyme, and BACON & then reused all that with the carcass for soup stock.

    Peggy wrote on November 29th, 2010
  6. This went over well at Thanksgiving dinner. And for the leftovers, I’ve found it makes a good omelet filler, possibly with leftover ham or turkey added to the mix.

    MamaMagness wrote on December 4th, 2010
  7. How many servings does this recipe make?

    Kaitlyn wrote on December 11th, 2010
    • After making my pre-Christmas test batch, I’m replying to myself incase anyone else is curious about the servings as well!

      I think it serves about 5 or so people.

      It was delicious! The only thing I may change next time is to decrease the amount of lemon by half. (Maybe do 1/2 a lemon in the hazelnut mixture and then the other 1/2 to drizzle over when it’s done.) Very glad to have this recipe, thank you!

      Kaitlyn wrote on December 12th, 2010
  8. This looks lovely…will be trying it!

    Vicky wrote on August 7th, 2011
  9. Breadless Cauliflower and Mushroom Stuffing | Mark's Daily Apple I was suggested this web site by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my problem. You are incredible! Thanks! your article about Breadless Cauliflower and Mushroom Stuffing | Mark's Daily AppleBest Regards Cindy

    invest liberty reserve wrote on February 13th, 2012
  10. Going to rush into the kitchen and stuff some peppers with this mixture. Thanks for a great recipe.

    snowmoonelk wrote on May 27th, 2012
  11. This was delicious. I mixed some sour cream and ground beef in with it, along with some extra garlic granules and a little salt. Amazingly good!

    Jodey wrote on August 1st, 2012
  12. Had this for Thanksgiving tonight. It was delicious. We only used 1/2 c butter as described in the recipe and went light on the lemon at the end. It tasted great with my flourless gravy.

    mommymd wrote on October 8th, 2012
  13. We do the cauliflower stuffing ALL THE TIME!!! My sisters, not very adventurous with foods, absolutely love the stuffing and always ask for it for family functions. It’s amazing.

    Angela wrote on November 26th, 2013
  14. The second lemon isn’t accounted for anywhere.
    We are still doing it, we’ll still make it work, but revising the lemon and butter issues in the posted recipe would be quite helpful.

    Happy thanksgiving, all

    Cindy wrote on November 27th, 2013
    • whoops..
      Just saw the second lemon

      Cindy wrote on November 27th, 2013
    • Cindy, the second lemon is squeezed over the mixture right before serving – this statement is in the very last sentence of the post. The final 1/4 c butter… can’t answer that one. :) I’ve got this recipe in the oven right now; making it ahead for tomorrow. I’ve made it for several dinners now and it’s always a hit no matter the individual dietary preference.

      Happy Thanksgiving to all my primal/paleo friends!

      Megan wrote on November 27th, 2013
  15. This was amazing! A few tips:

    1. chop the cauliflower small. half-inch square pieces are good. I want to try it diced in the processor too, I bet that would be really good.

    2. reduce lemon by half, as another commenter mentioned. the too-lemony-ness was the only drawback of this dish.

    3. we added a big caramelized diced onion. delish.

    4. I’d like to try this with something sweet added, perhaps some cranberries, raisins, or maybe some diced sweet chicken sausage.

    Leigh wrote on November 29th, 2013
  16. I started making this when I was very strict paleo. I am not so much anymore, and I often eat regular stuffing at my Thanksgiving dinner. However this has made itself a permanent part of every one of our holiday meals since 2010. My children demand that I make it. It is even better the next day. Such a wonderful recipe.

    Jennifer Garinger wrote on November 26th, 2015

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