The BEST Five-Ingredient Zucchini Stuffing

I hope you’re ready for a whole lot of holiday deliciousness today.

The BEST Five-Ingredient Zucchini stuffing is an easy, tasty holiday side dish that everyone will love!

Because this is quite literally The BEST Five-Ingredient Zucchini Stuffing not only due to its insane flavor, but also because it is sooo easy to make. Yes, your holiday menus are about to change forever.


I’m letting you in on a little secret today, because this stuffing is actually a family recipe that I’ve held near and dear to my heart….until now. I’ve debated sharing it for a while, and after receiving my Dad’s blessing (he’s the mastermind behind it all) I decided there’s no time like 10 days before Thanksgiving to do it!

So, I bet you’re wondering what makes this The BEST Five-Ingredient Zucchini Stuffing when it only involves 5 ingredients? Well, let me tell you, those five ingredients are chock full of alllll the flavors and work together so perfectly that you will never regret making this your new go-to stuffing recipe for years to come. We’re talking not only the obvious zucchini (which also, BTW, makes this recipe fairly healthy as far as stuffing recipes go) but also fresh basil and plenty of garlic. Of course we also mix in some breadcrumbs and tie it all together with some high-quality butter. Have I won you over yet?

The BEST Five-Ingredient Zucchini Stuffing can be stuffed into a bird OR just baked on its own for a completely vegetarian side dish.

What if I told you this stuffing is perfectly safe to eat raw (if you just can’t wait until you bake it off to try it) AND you don’t even have to stuff it into any sort of bird to enjoy it in all its glory? That’s my kind of stuffing.

Now, I know I’m sharing this with you before Thanksgiving just in case you’re looking for that perfect way to dress up your turkey a little bit, but in all honesty my Dad usually whips up this recipe for Christmas Eve. In fact, we usually rotate whatever type of poultry we use (sometimes we do chickens, sometimes Cornish game hens, etc.) but The BEST Five-Ingredient Zucchini Stuffing is the one constant on the menu.

The best thing about this Five-Ingredient Zucchini Stuffing? It can even be eaten raw!

For Thanksgiving, my mom has her own special stuffing recipe, but I’m not ready to disclose that one quite yet 😉

As far as making The BEST Five-Ingredient Zucchini Stuffing, it’s going to be a snap as long as you have a food processor on hand. (But yes, you can also make it without one.) You can use the grater attachment of your processor to grate the zucchini, and the chopper attachment for the basil, breadcrumbs and garlic.

After you have all of the ingredients prepped, you’ll sauté the zucchini and garlic in butter, then at the last minute stir in the breadcrumbs and basil before dumping everything into a baking dish (or stuffing it into a bird). If you’re using a baking dish, I might recommend one with a lot of surface area so you maximize the crunchy golden topping, but that’s just me.

This is literally The BEST Five-Ingredient Zucchini Stuffing and you need to add it to your holiday cooking schedule!

Once you have the stuffing in the oven, it’s very much a “set it and forget it” recipe. Which means you’ll have plenty of time to sit back and relax with family and friends, hopefully with a delicious cocktail in hand. Because isn’t that what the holidays are REALLY all about??

The BEST Five-Ingredient Zucchini Stuffing can be stuffed into a bird OR just baked on its own for a completely vegetarian side dish.
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The BEST Five-Ingredient Zucchini Stuffing
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
1 hrs 20 mins
 

This healthy stuffing recipe is incredibly flavorful with just FIVE ingredients. It can be made as a vegetarian side dish or stuffed into a bird!

Course: Side Dish
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 4 medium to large zucchini
  • 6 tablespoons butter (I prefer Kerrygold)
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 4 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or whatever temperature you’re cooking your bird at.)

  2. Using the shredding attachment of a food processor or a cheese shredder, shred the zucchini. Squeeze out the excess water using a few paper towels and set aside.

  3. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat, then add the shredded zucchini and garlic. Sauté until garlic is translucent and fragrant, then turn heat to low.

  4. In a clean food processor fitted with the blade attachment, make your fresh breadcrumbs using whatever type of bread you have on hand. Add fresh basil at the very end just to give it a rough chop.

  5. Stir breadcrumb mixture into zucchini mixture, then transfer into a baking dish, or stuff into your bird. Bake at desired oven temperature for about an hour, or until the surface of the stuffing takes on a nice golden-brown color.

  6. Serve with your holiday meal!

The BEST Five-Ingredient Zucchini Stuffing | CaliGirlCooking.com

Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs

We’re stepping a bit outside the Thanksgiving box today.

This Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is the perfect vegan side dish for Thanksgiving.

Because, although not a traditional holiday side dish, this Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is completely worthy of a spot on your holiday table. It’s full of dried cranberries, whole grains, white beans and seasonal fresh herbs like fresh rosemary, sage and thyme and literally is a Thanksgiving explosion in your mouth. You’re going to get this one on the menu STAT.


I’ve been a big fan of grain salads for quite a while now, as evidenced by this Spring Fava Bean and Burrata Grain Salad, this Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad and this Herbed Grain Salad with Broccoli Rabe and White Beans. I love them because they are filled with a ton of healthy ingredients and filling to boot. The whole grains give them plenty of heft to make them completely suitable as an entire meal, although they are equally delicious (and the portions go a bit further) if you serve them as a side dish among all the other delicious things you typically serve up for a holiday meal.

I’m not joking when I say tell you this Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs tastes like your entire Thanksgiving menu in a bowl. Sure, there’s no turkey in there (although you could easily add some and I wouldn’t be one bit upset about it) but just the cranberries and the fresh herbs alone are enough to mentally transport you to arguably the most well-known food holiday of the year. I love allll the fresh herbs, but there’s also just something about fresh sage in a recipe that really screams fall and all the deliciousness that comes with it.

A bowl of this Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is filling enough to be a delicious vegan holiday meal.

As far as making the dish goes, it couldn’t be easier. Not only does it come together fairly quickly (the longest step will be cooking up the grains) but it can also be made in advance and served cold or at room temperature, which means it’s easy to fit into an already busy cooking and kitchen schedule once T-day rolls around.

For the whole grains, I used a combination of farro and Italian couscous because they were what we had on hand, but feel free to use other varieties such as quinoa, barley or even wild rice. I also added in some toasted pine nuts, and I highly recommend you do not skip this step, even if you want to sub in some other type of toasted nut for that little extra crunch. (Pecans? Almonds? So many possibilities.)

This Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is an easy, make-ahead side dish for the holidays.

I would also like to point out that said Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is completely vegan, which makes it a delicious, healthy, high-protein option for anyone in your group that may have certain dietary preferences. It’s a great way to serve them up some protein and filling flavor without having to bend over backwards making some sort of interesting Tofurkey creation.

Since I was developing recipes so far in advance this holiday season due to our little one’s arrival, I served this up as a side dish at my mother-in-law’s birthday celebration we held down here in Santa Barbara at the beginning of October. Let’s just say my sisters-in-law were already requesting I make it as our contribution to the Thanksgiving meal when we go celebrate with them in a couple of weeks.  I hope you decide to add it to your menu as well!

Serve this vegan Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs as a hearty side dish or light, healthy meal during the holidays.

This Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is the perfect vegan side dish for Thanksgiving.
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Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs
Prep Time
10 mins
 

This festive vegan side dish is full of filling whole grains, protein-rich white beans and pine nuts, and the freshest herbs of the season. 

Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Servings: 6 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cooked grains of your choice (I used a combination of farro and Italian couscous)
  • 2 15.5-ounce cans Great Northern or white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to two days before serving.

Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs | CaliGirlCooking.com

Herbed Butternut Squash Gratin with Amaretti Crumble

Apparently I’m all about the butternut squash this week!

This Herbed Butternut Squash Gratin with Amaretti Crumble is the perfect easy side dish for fall!

To be fair, it was somewhat on purpose. I feel like by now all of you, my dear readers, might be feeling a little overwhelmed with all the pumpkin recipes currently populating the web and social media. I also feel that butternut squash is a delicious yet often overlooked fall ingredient and I wanted to be sure to give it its fair share of attention before we go too far down the pumpkin recipe rabbit hole. Enter this Herbed Butternut Squash Gratin with Amaretti Crumble!


I realize I haven’t posted a ton of vegetable side dish recipes on the site, and I honestly can’t tell you why. Maybe it’s because I like to incorporate as many vegetables as possible into my main dishes, or maybe it’s because often our “vegetables” are prepared simply and easily without a lot of flourish. But every once in a while I think we can all agree it’s nice to have a fancy veggie side dish to contribute to a get-together or family dinner, especially during the holidays when group gatherings are in full force.

And let me tell you – this Herbed Butternut Squash Gratin with Amaretti Crumble is seriously one for the books. I mean, anytime you combine a super-healthy vegetable, tons of fresh herbs, crunchy amaretti crumbles, pancetta and CHEESE, I call it a surefire winner.

Herbed Butternut Squash Gratin with Amaretti Crumble is a tasty side dish for fall that even picky eaters will love.

I may have come up with this recipe in the middle of September when it was still blazing hot out, but I sure as heck haven’t stopped making it since and plan to continue to make it whenever our little babe allows me the time to get in the kitchen and cook. I may also subtly share the recipe with my family so they can make it for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. I mean, it would only be appropriate, right?

I’m also going to go out on a limb and guess that said Herbed Butternut Squash Gratin with Amaretti Crumble is going to please even the pickiest of little eaters. After all, what kid doesn’t want a nutrient-filled side dish that also happens to include CHEESE and COOKIES and taste out-of-this-world? I dare you to give it a shot.

Herbed Butternut Squash Gratin with Amaretti Crumble is the perfect side dish to add to your Thanksgiving or Christmas menu.

The great thing about this holiday-appropriate recipe is that it’s very much a “set it and forget it” recipe, meaning you prep everything in a baking dish, pop it in the oven and forget about it until it’s ready to eat. So sure, you may need to coordinate the oven time with other important holiday things – like turkey! – but once it has it’s moment, it’ll be ready to shine along with everything else gracing your feasted table.

I don’t have too much else to say about this Herbed Butternut Squash Gratin with Amaretti Crumble, except that you really need to make it ASAP, even if it’s just for a trial run before the big day when you plan to wow all your family and friends. I guarantee it’s going to be a huge hit!

A hefty serving of Herbed Butternut Squash Gratin with Amaretti Crumble is the perfect addition to a holiday meal.

This Herbed Butternut Squash Gratin with Amaretti Crumble is the perfect easy side dish for fall!
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Herbed Butternut Squash Gratin with Amaretti Crumble
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hrs 5 mins
 

This butternut squash side dish is full of flavor with fresh herbs, Gruyere cheese and crispy prosciutto. Perfect for the holidays!

Course: Side Dish
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 2 cups amaretti cookies
  • 7 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 4 ounces pancetta
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  2. Place butternut squash slices neatly in a rectangular baking pan, drizzle on olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Follow by sprinkling on the thyme, sage and grated Gruyere.

  3. Combine the amaretti cookies, softened butter and orange zest in a food processor and pulse until a crumble forms. 

  4. Sprinkle the crumble over the squash and then sprinkle on the pancetta. 

  5. Place pan in oven and bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Then increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and bake an additional 5-10 minutes longer, or until butternut squash feels tender when pierced with a fork and pancetta is slightly crispy/bubbly. Let cool slightly before serving.

Herbed Butternut Squash Gratin with Amaretti Crumble | CaliGirlCooking.com

Pumpkin Popovers

Who’s ready for a #virtualpumpkinparty?!

A fresh batch of Pumpkin Popovers is the perfect side dish to serve at any holiday meal.

It’s (one of) my most favorite times of the year because today we’re talking allllll things pumpkin and, specifically, these super dense and moist Pumpkin Popovers that are going to change your fall baking game forever.


This is now the second year in a row I’ve participated in the viral blogger phenomenon known as the #virtualpumpkinparty and I’m really not lying when I say it’s one of my favorite times of the year. Last year I made these sinful Pumpkin Praline Cinnamon Rolls with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting, and this year I couldn’t be more excited about the Pumpkin Popovers that I’m sharing with you today. Maybe one year I’ll get around to sharing a savory dish, but I just can’t help myself with all the delicious pumpkin baked goods!

PLUS, not only do you get to hear all about my tasty pumpkin-inspired recipe today, but I’m also sharing the link to over 60 other bloggers’ recipes featuring the beloved fall ingredient so, if you are obsessed with all things pumpkin right now (don’t lie, I know you are) you’ve definitely come to the right place.

So, without further ado, let’s get to the recipe!

A drizzle of honey is the perfect addition to fresh-baked Pumpkin Popovers.

First off, if you’ve never explored the world of popovers before, you’ve really been missing out. They’re basically a quicker and much easier solution to making your own dinner rolls, with the added benefit of being fluffy and buttery and dense and moist all at the same time.

They tend to lean more towards the savory side of things as the recipe doesn’t call for any sugar but, let me tell you, that didn’t stop me from slathering them in pumpkin cream cheese and enjoying them for breakfast every now and then when we had my test batches lying around the kitchen.

A batch of Pumpkin Popovers fresh out of the oven.

Speaking of test batches, I based this recipe off of a basic popover one I had in my trusty little recipe card box (I have no idea where it originally came from) but was disappointed to discover that my first batch only yielded 5, MAYBE 6 really small popovers. It may have been because I was using an actual popover pan as opposed to a standard muffin tin (you can really use either) but, after tasting said Pumpkin Popovers, I knew that amount was just not going to cut it for me!

So I quickly decided to double the recipe and I’m proud to say that, although it still only yields a half-dozen, the resulting Pumpkin Popovers were MUCH larger and fluffier – just what I was looking for.

These Pumpkin Popovers rise above the top of the pan and are delicious served fresh out of the oven.

You could easily double the below recipe again if you’re serving a crowd over the holidays, but do keep in mind that popovers are best served warm and fresh. That being said, these ones are dense enough (thanks to the addition of good ol’ pumpkin puree) that they can also be frozen or even eaten over a few days if you don’t mind eating them as pillowy soft and warm as they are right out of the oven.

The other great thing about these Pumpkin Popovers is that it really takes no time at all to whip up a batch, so you can easily fit them into the cooking schedule for all your holiday entertaining needs. I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping to have a big hot basket of these on the table for Thanksgiving, Christmas and beyond.

To check out all the other blogger recipes for this year’s #virtualpumpkinparty, click here!

A batch of easy Pumpkin Popovers fresh out of the oven and ready to be eaten!

This post contains affiliate links.

5 from 2 votes
A fresh batch of Pumpkin Popovers is the perfect side dish to serve at any holiday meal.
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Pumpkin Popovers
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

These fall-inspired popovers are the perfect, easy side dish for all your holiday meals. They're dense and pillowy and delicious hot out of the oven!

Course: Side Dish
Servings: 6 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs, beaten and at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  2. Place popover or muffin tin in preheated oven for about 5 minutes to warm it up while you’re making your batter.

  3. To make the batter, combine eggs, pumpkin and almond milk in a medium bowl. Stir in the butter.

  4. Stir in the flour and salt until everything is just mixed together. 

  5. Remove tin from the oven and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Fill each tin ¾ of the way full with the batter.

  6. Bake 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake until golden, about 20 minutes more.

  7. Cool for 5 minutes before popping out of the pan and serving. 

Pumpkin Popovers | CaliGirlCooking.com

Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts

At least I have one good reason to get up this morning!

A big bowl of in-season Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts is the perfect summer meal or side dish!

And that’s to enjoy this uber-delicious Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts for lunch. After the morning I’m having, I’m going to need it!


Right at this moment I’m sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office having just guzzled down a disgustingly sweet “Gluco-Crush” (no joke, that’s what it was called) for my gestational diabetes test. I now have a cloying after-taste in my mouth and all I can think about is all of the REAL food I’m going to eat after my hour-long wait for a blood test is done. Oh, the joys of pregnancy!

Speaking of, I know I’ve kept it mostly food here on the blog throughout my pregnancy so far, but do you have any interest in me doing some posts on my pregnancy? I always think I need to just jump in an do it but then I get worried that y’all will hate me if you’re not pregnant and I’m not posting delicious food recipes all the time. Thoughts? Requests? I’m all ears!

Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts is the perfect light summer meal.

I’m definitely thinking I’ll start to do some food prep recipe posts in the next couple of months, as I’m starting to think about having our freezer stocked full of delicious things for when the baby comes so we don’t have to worry so much about cooking and just enjoy the time with our new little one. If you have anything in particular you’d like me to make, or any suggestions of stuff YOU’VE made that was a lifesaver, I’m all ears!

Okay, but back to this Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts. I hope you all are as obsessed with fresh figs as I am, because you can bet I’ll be using them in as many recipes as possible if/when I can find them. I was able to find these ones at our Farmer’s Market (there were just TWO vendors selling them!) but our Trader Joe’s had them for a hot second a month or so ago and then when I went back they had disappeared already. I’m hoping we’re just at the start of the season and they’ll become more widely available in the next month or so, otherwise I totally missed the boat on all the fig recipes I want to make!

So, I found my fresh figs and I even bought two different varieties because I couldn’t decide which one I wanted, but feel free to use any variety you like. Aside from the figs, all of the ingredients for this salad are pretty darn #basic, and TBH I even hesitate for a hot second about posting the recipe because it so like “duh” easy. But I brought it over to a friend’s house for dinner and it received such rave reviews that I knew I just had to post it.

Serve this Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts at your next get-together and it's sure to be a huge hit!

The only other ingredients you’ll need besides fresh figs are arugula, burrata, hazelnuts, olive oil and a nice, thick balsamic vinegar (I really like the Balsamic Glaze from Trader Joe’s.) Oh, and a pinch of salt and pepper! It’s amazing how often we forego seasoning our salads with good ol’ S&P here in the US, whereas in Europe it’s a regular thing. It makes such a huge difference!

The other great thing about this recipe is there is absolutely no cooking involved. Which means it’s perfect for summer! Well, I do recommend that you toast the hazelnuts (toasting nuts adds a great dimension of flavor to any recipe) but that takes literally 5-10 minutes on the stovetop and you’re done. Nuts are also something you can batch-toast in advance and just keep on the ready in your pantry for whenever the mood for that extra pop of flavor in a recipe strikes.

I tossed together the arugula, sliced fresh figs, toasted hazelnuts and salt and pepper with a light coating of olive oil, then drizzled on the balsamic glaze and plopped that creamy, cheesy goodness that is burrata right on top. I kept the burrata whole for transporting to my friend’s house, then cut into it and let it ooze all over the individual portions as I served. I also brought along extra olive oil and balsamic just in case people wanted some extra dressing.

This fresh fig salad features toasted hazelnuts and is topped with creamy, delicious burrata cheese. The perfect summer meal!

That’s it! Pretty easy, right? The fact that it’s no-cook and showcases some of the season’s best produce makes this Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts a real winner in my book, especially for this time of year.

Grab the recipe below and remember to send me any pregnancy or meal prep post requests if you have them! Xo

A big bowl of in-season Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts is the perfect summer meal or side dish!
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Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

This summer-y salad features fresh figs, arugula and toasted hazelnuts, all topped with creamy burrata cheese and an easy olive oil and balsamic dressing.

Course: Main Course, Salad
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 7 ounces arugula
  • 14 ounces fresh figs, quartered (any variety)
  • 3/4 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (more or less depending on your personal taste)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Balsamic glaze
  • 8 ounces burrata
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, toss together the arugula, fresh figs, hazelnuts and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

  2. Drizzle on balsamic glaze and top with burrata. Cut into the burrata when you’re ready to serve!

Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts | CaliGirlCooking.com