This vegetarian version of stuffing is a savory masterpiece. Credit: Brian Feulner | BDN

Sure, turkey is the traditional star of the Thanksgiving table. But talk to many people, and you will hear what they really love: the side dishes. That’s where creativity and cooking prowess can really shine on Thanksgiving.

When it comes to stuffing — or dressing, if you prefer that term — there are so many ways to dress it up (no pun intended). Change up the mixings: use meat or seafood, add veggies, use rice, use lots of herbs, choose a fresh bread or an easy dried starter. The possibilities are endless.

Stuffing is also an easy dish to transform into a meatless delight. Instead of meat, try mushrooms. Trade the turkey or chicken stock for vegetable stock, and use plenty of flavorful additions.

This recipe for Mushroom Artichoke Stuffing yields an herbal, fragrant, hearty dish studded with meaty mushrooms, sweet onions and smooth artichoke hearts. While it pairs perfectly with an herbed roast turkey, it’s vegetarian. Of course, you won’t miss the sausage, oysters, bacon or whatever you use in your stuffing. It’s packed with big holiday flavor.

Mushroom Artichoke Stuffing

serves 8

1 loaf whole wheat Italian bread, cut into ½-inch cubes

Cooking oil spray

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

1 8 oz. package sliced mushrooms

1 14-oz. can artichoke hearts, chopped (not marinated)

1½ tablespoons chopped fresh sage

1½ tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

1 cup vegetable stock

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and spray with cooking oil. Bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring once, until crisp.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened — about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir well. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are browned — about 10-15 minutes. Any liquid released by the mushrooms should be evaporated.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the bread cubes, onions, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, sage and thyme. Drizzle with vegetable stock and toss well to moisten. Add the egg and toss again. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread the stuffing mixture in a buttered 8-by-10-inch glass baking dish.

Bake 25-30 minutes until golden on top.

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Sarah Walker Caron

Sarah Walker Caron is the senior editor, features, for the Bangor Daily News and the editor of Bangor Metro magazine. She’s the author of “Classic Diners of Maine,” and five cookbooks including “Easy...