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Recipe: Update your pan stuffing on Thanksgiving by mixing almonds, apricots, and dates into the croutons

Pan Stuffing with Almonds, Apricots, and Dates.Sally Pasley Vargas

Serves 8

Thanksgiving stuffing gets a modern twist with the sweet and savory additions of almonds, apricots, and dates. Use firm white sandwich bread, remove the crusts, and cut it into 1-inch cubes. Quickly toast them with almonds in the oven, then toss them with the classic pairing of onion and celery cooked in butter. Add generous amounts of coriander, rosemary, and parsley to amp up the flavors and complement the dried fruit and nuts. Pack the stuffing into a large baking dish, cover it with foil so it cooks through without losing any moisture, then lift off the foil to crisp the top. Stuffing is a forgiving recipe, so go ahead and make it moister or drier with the amount of chicken stock you add, or substitute vegetable stock for the vegetarians at the table.

Butter (for the dish)
2pounds firm white sandwich bread, crusts remove, bread cut into 1-inch cubes
¾cup sliced almonds
¼cup (1/2 stick) butter
1medium onion, coarsely chopped
4stalks celery, coarsely chopped
2teaspoons salt
½teaspoon black pepper
cup chopped fresh parsley
2tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
½cup pitted dates, finely chopped
4teaspoons ground coriander
3 eggs
cups chicken or vegetable stock

1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Have on hand 2 large rimmed baking sheets and 1 small baking dish.

2. On the baking sheets, spread out the bread cubes in single layers. Bake for 12 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom halfway through baking; cool. In the small baking dish, spread out the almonds. Toast them, stirring once, for 8 minutes or until they are aromatic; cool.

3. Turn the oven temperature up to 350 degrees.

4. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, celery, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 8 minutes, or until the vegetables soften. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley and rosemary.

5. In a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients, combine the bread, almonds, onion mixture, apricots, dates, and coriander. Mix with a large rubber spatula until well combined.

6. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and chicken or vegetable stock. Pour the egg mixture over the bread mixture and stir until the cubes are evenly moistened.

7. Transfer the stuffing to the pan and cover with foil. (If preparing in advance, set aside in a cool place for up to 1 hour. Or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight; let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.)

8. Bake for 30 minutes. Lift off the foil and continue baking for 30 minutes more, or until the top is starting to brown. A thermometer inserted into the middle of the mixture should register 165 degrees. (Total baking time is 60 minutes.) Serve warm.

Jill Gibson

Serves 8

Thanksgiving stuffing gets a modern twist with the sweet and savory additions of almonds, apricots, and dates. Use firm white sandwich bread, remove the crusts, and cut it into 1-inch cubes. Quickly toast them with almonds in the oven, then toss them with the classic pairing of onion and celery cooked in butter. Add generous amounts of coriander, rosemary, and parsley to amp up the flavors and complement the dried fruit and nuts. Pack the stuffing into a large baking dish, cover it with foil so it cooks through without losing any moisture, then lift off the foil to crisp the top. Stuffing is a forgiving recipe, so go ahead and make it moister or drier with the amount of chicken stock you add, or substitute vegetable stock for the vegetarians at the table.

Butter (for the dish)
2pounds firm white sandwich bread, crusts remove, bread cut into 1-inch cubes
¾cup sliced almonds
¼cup (1/2 stick) butter
1medium onion, coarsely chopped
4stalks celery, coarsely chopped
2teaspoons salt
½teaspoon black pepper
cup chopped fresh parsley
2tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
½cup pitted dates, finely chopped
4teaspoons ground coriander
3 eggs
cups chicken or vegetable stock

1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Have on hand 2 large rimmed baking sheets and 1 small baking dish.

2. On the baking sheets, spread out the bread cubes in single layers. Bake for 12 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom halfway through baking; cool. In the small baking dish, spread out the almonds. Toast them, stirring once, for 8 minutes or until they are aromatic; cool.

3. Turn the oven temperature up to 350 degrees.

4. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, celery, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 8 minutes, or until the vegetables soften. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley and rosemary.

5. In a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients, combine the bread, almonds, onion mixture, apricots, dates, and coriander. Mix with a large rubber spatula until well combined.

6. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and chicken or vegetable stock. Pour the egg mixture over the bread mixture and stir until the cubes are evenly moistened.

7. Transfer the stuffing to the pan and cover with foil. (If preparing in advance, set aside in a cool place for up to 1 hour. Or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight; let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.)

8. Bake for 30 minutes. Lift off the foil and continue baking for 30 minutes more, or until the top is starting to brown. A thermometer inserted into the middle of the mixture should register 165 degrees. (Total baking time is 60 minutes.) Serve warm.Jill Gibson

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