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How To Make Vegetarian Stuffing So Good It'll Make You Weep

There is a lot of cheese involved. Find more dreamy stuffings here.

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Lauren Zaser / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed / Via BuzzFeed Life

Here's your big chance to use that seedy bread that comes from some local bakery, and stuff it with fancy vegetables like kale and fennel.

Plus, cheese. Lots and lots of cheese.

1. First things first. Start by tearing the bread into large, but bite-sized pieces.

Lauren Zaser / Via BuzzFeed Life

You know how English Muffins are the fucking best? Well, that's because of those little things called NOOKS AND CRANNIES. Using your knife to cut bread into cubes will never ever give you N&C. But tearing will. Oh, and LEAVE THE CRUST ON. There is toasty flavor in the crust and toasty flavor is what you want.

You want craggly edges and uneven surface, so there is maximum absorption in each piece of bread, which will also lead to maximum crispiness on top.

2. Let the bread sit at room temperature for about 6 hours to dry out—if you can do this overnight, even better.

Lauren Zaser / Via BuzzFeed Life

This is so the bread doesn't fall apart into mush when you add all that liquid (more on that later).

If you forgot to do this or don't have time, just put the bread in a 325° oven for 20-30 minutes, tossing occasionally until the bread feels a little...well, stale.

Lauren Zaser / Via BuzzFeed Life

Don't bust out a ruler or anything; The point is that you want slices thin enough that they'll soften but thick enough so that they still add some texture.

5. Next, strip the kale leaves from the stems...

Lauren Zaser/Sarah Kobos / Via BuzzFeed Life

The easiest way to do this is by grabbing the bottom of the stem and just stripping the leaves off. No knife required. Discard the stems.

8. Season with salt and pepper and cook until vegetables have started to brown, or ~caramelize~, about 10 minutes.

Once they are all browned and delicious, transfer to a small bowl and and set aside.

9. Using the same skillet (no need to wipe it out), heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add kale by the handful, stirring to wilt it before adding more (so it all fits). Add rosemary to the wilted kale.

Season this with salt and pepper, too, please! Once all kale is wilted and bright green, transfer to bowl and set aside.

10. Now, the liquid: Whisk a bit of the stock into the eggs first. Then pour the egg mixture into the rest of the stock.

This makes sure the eggs are well blended into the stock, so you don't have any pieces of cooked egg inside the stuffing (not what you are going for).

Season this mixture with salt and pepper, too.

13. Transfer the stuffing to a 3-quart baking dish (that's a classic 9- by 13-inch baking dish), cover with foil and pop it into a 425° oven for 25-30 minutes.

Covering with foil will prevent it from drying out.

14. Remove the foil and keep baking for another 10-15 minutes. This is how you get the top all golden brown and crispy.

Kale and Cheddar Stuffing

Recipe by Alison Roman

Serves 8

1 loaf of whole wheat, seeded or rye bread

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter

4 cloves garlic, sliced

1 large onion, sliced

1 bulb fennel, sliced

Kosher salt and pepper

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large bunch kale, stemmed, torn into small pieces

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

2 Tbsp. chopped rosemary, thyme or sage

2 large eggs

3 cups vegetable broth

1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup grated cheddar cheese

Tear the bread into large bite-sized pieces (crust and all) and place on a baking sheet. Let it sit out at least 6 hours, preferably overnight (if you don't have time for this, don't panic: just throw bread in a 325° oven, and toss occasionally until croutons feel pretty dry but are not toasted, about 30 minutes).

It's important that the bread is dry so that it will absorb the liquid without falling apart.

So, once your bread is ready:

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion, and fennel and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are totally softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a very large bowl. Heat the olive oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the kale to the skillet by the large handful, adding more as it wilts down. Add rosemary, pepper flakes (if using) and season with salt and pepper. Cook until it's bright green and all wilted down, a few minutes, then add it to the fennel mixture in the bowl.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and pour the stock into another bowl. Whisk a little bit of the broth into the eggs. Then pour the egg mixture into the bowl with the stock. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the bread, Parmesan cheese, and cheddar cheese to the vegetables and mix. Drizzle the egg mixture over and using your hands, or a spatula or spoon, mix everything together. You want to be gentle yet firm — you don't want to mush the bread, but you also want to make sure the bread is absorbing all the wonderful things (for a perfect stuffing experience in every bite).

Preheat the oven to 425°.

Transfer this mixture to a 9- by 13-inch baking dish (or any 2 ½- 3-quart oven-safe vessel) and cover with foil. Bake stuffing for 25-30 minutes then remove foil and return to oven for another 10-15 minutes to get the top all golden brown and crunchy (obviously the best part of the stuffing).

15. Looking for more stuffing? Find your stuffing soulmate here.

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