Holiday Bread Casserole with Gravy
Holiday Bread Casserole (a.k.a. dressing/stuffing), like its Indian cousin Bread Upma, can be presented as a substantial dish on its own for a light meal or snack. I prefer to call this delicious dish Holiday Bread Casserole because it really is not used to stuff a creature of any kind. With toasty cubes of bread and succulent bits of veggies bound together with delightful fragrant herbs, all that the casserole needs is a little gravy. You may wish to add more veggies such as corn, zucchini or other summer squash, mushrooms, etc.
If you want a good Bread Casserole, you have to start with good bread - artisan breads like garlic, rosemary, ciabatta, or country Italian/French loaf all lend themselves to making this dish a fabulous treat. Although a day old bread is preferable, fresh bread may be used also with a little extra care.
Good bread should never be discarded just because it gets a little old or stale. Every cuisine has at least one fabulous recipe to use up old/stale bread; Bread Upma, Bread Dosa, Croutons and Crostini, Bruschettas, lovely bread salads, sweet & savory Bread Puddings, plain old Bread Crumbs, and last but not least, Holiday Bread Casserole all start with with old bread.
Note: Even if you prefer dry bread crumbs/cubes, do the crumbling or dicing while the bread is still a little soft and not bone dry - otherwise it gets difficult and dicey; been there and done that :-).
Ready for Roasting
1 (about 1 lb) day old good Crusty Loaf of Bread
OR dried bread cubes from 1 loaf2 Tbsp Earth Balance (vegan butter substitute)
1 Tbsp Oil
1 large Onion, chopped
1 small bunch Celery, chopped
1 large Carrot, diced
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1 sprig fresh Sage, minced
2-3 sprigs fresh Thyme, use leaves
1 small bunch flat leaf Parsley, chopped
Sea Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup - 2 cups Vegetable Broth Or Water
Gravy for Serving
Cook the onions and celery with a pinch of salt and the turmeric for about 2 minutes.
Add the carrots, garlic, thyme, sage; cook until the veggies have softened - about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool in the pan.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Slice the bread and cut into small cubes (about 1/4 inch). If the bread is fresh, cut and let air dry for about a couple of hours while preparing the rest of the meal or ingredients.
While you are cutting the bread, place the baking pan with the Earth Balance in the oven to melt - watch carefully as the fat burns quickly in a hot oven.
When the Earth Balance has melted, stir in the bread cubes and mix well.
Add the cooked veggies, salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle the broth/water on top - use minimal amount of broth/water for fresh bread; you will need the larger quantity if using dry bread cubes.
Mix well and bake for about 25 minutes.
Serve hot with the gravy. Enjoy!!