California Style Warm Bread Casserole with Kale, Turkey Sausage, Dates and Almonds (also known as stuffing)

Kale Sausage Stuffing with Dates and AlmondsFor Thanksgiving, the NY Times posted an article providing a recipe for each of the fifty states.  California’s recipe, not surprisingly, incorporated kale, dates, and sourdough bread, and was inspired by California chef Suzanne Goin (try her restaurants, including Lucques, where Patrick and I got engaged).  I upped the kale in this recipe, and just slightly decreased the butter.  We ended up with a warm bread casserole/salad/mixture that was delicious with the turkey or on its own.

Here’s what you need:

1 pound loaf of sourdough bread

7 tablespoons olive oil

1 package of your favorite turkey or chicken sausage (cooked or uncooked, about one pound) (I did a mild Italian turkey and chicken sausage from Applegate farms)

2 cups diced onions (about one large onion)

1/2 sprig rosemary

1-2 teaspoons thyme leaves

1 sliced hot pepper of your choice

salt and pepper

2 bunches lacinato kale (the dark leafy kind, not the curly kind – also called Tuscan kale or cavolo nero)

10 Medjool dates

1 cup sherry

2 cups stock (I did chicken stock)

2-3 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup sliced almonds

Here’s what you do:

1.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Cut the sourdough bread into thick slices.  Cut off the crust.  Then cut into 1 inch cubes.

3.  Place the cubes on a large baking dish.  Drizzle four tablespoons olive oil over the cubes and use your hands to squeeze it in.  Bake for about 12-15 minutes until slightly browned.  Place into a large bowl.Bread cubes

4.  In a large pot or Dutch oven that can go into the oven itself (I used my Le Creuset), heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat and cook the sausage.  If you are doing pre-cooked sausage, cut it up into small diced pieces before cooking.  If you are doing fresh sausage, remove from the casing and break up.  When cooked, remove from the pan (with a slotted spoon if you did fresh sausage to separate from the fat) and add to the bread bowl.

5.  Get the kale ready for cooking.  Wash it thoroughly.  Remove the leaves from the tough stems.  Throw the stems away and roughly chop the leaves.

6.  Add 1 to 2 more tablespoons olive oil to you pot and cook onions, rosemary, thyme and chili over medium heat until softened, about 4 minutes.  Add the kale and cook until wilted, about 2-3 minutes.  If the kale doesn’t fit in the pot all at once, then add half, toss it around a bit until it gets smaller, and then add the rest.Onions and spices with chili

7.  Remove the sprig of rosemary and add the kale/onion mixture to the bread bowl.  Mix to combine.

8.  Cut the dates in half, remove the pits, and cut in half again.  Stir into the bread mixture.

9.  Return your pot to the stove and boil the sherry on high until it is reduced to about half.  Pour in the stock and boil until it too is reduced to about half.  Add the butter until melted.

10.  Pour the liquid over the bread mixture and stir to combine.  Stir in the almonds.

11.  Return the bread mixture to the pot and bake for 10-15 minutes covered.  Then uncover the pot and bake another 15 minutes until the top is browned.

Enjoy!

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