As always, the key to healthy yet flavorful cooking is to pay special attention to the preparation of each component of the dish. Sautéing the mushrooms until well-browned will provide the entire recipe with a rich base flavor. The salt in the recipe is divided such that each critical component is individually and perfectly seasoned, making the flavor of the whole dish seem more rounded. Dried rubbed sage is preferable to fresh in my opinion as it more evenly disperses throughout the dish.
This recipe makes a stuffing that is crunchy on top and very moist inside. If your family prefers crunchier or drier stuffing, you have several options: you can lightly toast the bread slices before adding to the vegetables, you can make individual servings in muffin cups, or you can spread the stuffing onto a large sheet pan and bake until lightly browned and crunchy, about 20 minutes.
3 cups chopped leeks (white part only)
1 1/2 cups diced celery
1 pound shiitake mushrooms, discard stems and slice caps a 1/4-inch wide
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons ground dried sage
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 whole egg plus 1 egg white
1/2 cup skim milk
1 (1 pound) loaf of White Whole Wheat bread (such as Pepperidge Farms)
Preheat oven to 350F. In a 12 inch non-stick sauté pan, sauté the sliced shiitake mushrooms in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally and allowing mushrooms to brown in pan; add 1/4 teaspoon salt after most of the moisture has evaporated from the pan.
Reduce heat to medium, and stirring more frequently, continue cooking until mushrooms are dark brown and caramelized, scraping the pan of any browned bits and incorporating them into the mushroom mixture. Remove the mushrooms to a large bowl and set aside.
Return the pan to medium heat. Add the other 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté the leeks and celery with 1/2 teaspoon salt until soft and just beginning to color, about 7 minutes, Take advantage of the moisture provided by the vegetables to scrape up and incorporate any remaining browned bits from the mushrooms into the leeks and celery. Transfer mixture to the bowl of mushrooms and return pan to medium-high heat.
Add the stock to the pan, stirring and scraping any remaining pan contents, then add the thyme, rosemary, and sage and simmer for one minute. Transfer stock to the bowl of vegetables. Stir in the parsley, chives and pepper. Set aside.
Beat the egg and egg white together with the 1/2 cup milk and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Dice the bread into one inch cubes. Add the bread and egg/ milk mixture to the vegetables and stir lightly to combine. Transfer to a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish or 16 greased or paper-lined muffin cups.
Bake the stuffing for 30-35 minutes for a full pan or 25-30 minutes for the muffin cups. Serve immediately, refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.