Thanksgiving Vegetarian Wild Rice Dressing with Roasted Hazelnuts

My least favorite Thanksgiving dishes seem to be the items that no one would ever dream of replacing.

Every Thanksgiving, I see the sponge like, wood colored stuffing along side the worm-like green bean casserole. I usually pass up both of those options, and not just to make room for pumpkin pie.

All of It - Thanksgiving 2015 - Wild Rice Dressing with Roasted Hazelnuts

I get it. No one wants to mess with the traditions of holidays. And everyone goes into these meals with the expectation to gorge themselves. I don’t particularly like that point of view.

I have several expectations for Thanksgiving. I want to eat really delicious, tasty food. I don't want to feel awful after we eat. I prefer fresh, homemade, unprocessed food, something that will contribute positively to nourish my guests. 

Now that I get to be in charge of the food for Thanksgiving, I am SO excited for more than just the Pumpkin Pie and rolls.

All of It - Wild Rice Dressing with Roasted Hazelnuts

One of the highlights of our holiday meals is definitely my Wild Rice dressing. It has been a mainstay on our table for about five years now, and was one of the first, more creative vegetable dishes I made when we started cutting meat out of our diets. Colorful, crunchy, and healthy! 

All of It - Thanksgiving 2015 - Wild Rice Dressing

Not only is wild rice delicious with its smoky, nutty, taste, but it also boasts some great health benefits! Wild rice is higher in protein, fiber, and potassium than brown rice, and the antioxidant activity is 15 times higher compared to white rice (Timm, 2014).

Did you know that wild rice is not actually rice? It is a grain that comes from semiaquatic grasses. Wild rice is most prevalent west and north of the Great Lakes, with Minnesota providing the largest amount of cultivated wild rice, producing 5 to 10 million pounds each year (Minnesota Cultivated Wild Rice Council).

All of It - Thanksgiving Test Drive - Wild Rice Dressing with Roasted Hazelnuts

This dish perfectly represents my home state of Minnesota while offering a MUCH healthier (and tastier) alternative to traditional stuffing or dressing. It is savory with a hint of sweetness that comes from the dried cherries, orange juice, and zest. One of those sweet and salty combinations. 

Can’t wait to hear what you think of this recipe! If you make it, take a photo and post it on Instagram! Use #itsallofit and tag me @corrielanderson so I can see your lovely creation!

Stay tuned for more Thanksgiving recipes!!  

All of It - Thanksgiving Recipes - Vegetarian Wild Rice Dressing


Vegetarian Wild Rice Dressing with Roasted Hazelnuts

Recipe Author: Corrie Anderson
Recipe Type: Vegetarian, Side
Serves: 6 - 8

**Make Ahead - can be made the day before, just don't add the hazelnuts until right before you serve it. 

  • 1 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 - 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, skin on 
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, or 1/4 dried cranberries and cherries
  • 1 yellow or white onion
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 3 - 5 medium sized carrots, heirloom if you can find them
  • 1 orange or tangerine, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons orange or tangerine zest 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • kosher salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add 1 cup of vegetable stock, 1 cup of water, and bay leaves to a medium sized pot. Rinse wild rice, and then add to the pot. Bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer for about 40 minutes. The rice shouldn't be cooked all the way, it will finish cooking in the oven during the very last step. Taste it first, it should be al dente, a little bit firm still! **You shouldn't have too much to drain when the rice is done cooking. If you have over an inch of liquid still standing, you can add it to the pan. Increase cooking time by about 5 minutes if you have lots of liquid left. 
  2. Spread hazelnuts out in one layer on baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Hazelnuts should be slightly browned and glistening. Throw the hazelnuts into a clean kitchen towel and rub them slightly to get some of the skins off. Don't spend more than 2 minutes on this part. 
  3. Put dried cherries into a small bowl, pour 1 cup of hot water over and let them stand in the water until its time to put mixture in the oven. Drain cherries before adding to the mix. 
  4. Place a large sauce pan over a medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Next add onions and cook for five minutes, then add carrots and celery, cook until tender. Add oregano, parsley, and thyme. Stir until well incorporated.
  5. Add wild rice, remaining 2 cups of vegetable broth, juice of one orange, orange zest, kosher salt, black pepper, and drained cherries to pan with vegetables. Stir and then transfer to an oven safe casserole dish. Cover with tinfoil and pop that baby in the oven!! Bake for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle roasted hazelnuts on top right before serving!  

Serving Size: 1  Cals: 204 Fat: 9g  St.Fat: 1g  Carbs: 28 g  Sugar: 11g  Sodium: 422 mg  Fiber: 5 g  Protein: 9g  Vit. A: 107%  Vita. C: 37%  Iron: 19%