Easily made gluten-free, this vegan version of my mom's cornbread dressing is made with Southern-Style Cornbread, sautéed vegetables, a few slices of whole-grain bread (use gluten-free, if desired), plus salty broth, thyme and sage. A new classic. Make it oil-free by sauteing the vegetables in broth and using this Oil-Free Vegan Cornbread.
The day before you plan to make the dressing, cut the cornbread into squares and leave it out on the counter overnight to dry.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly oil a 9 x 13 (3 Qt.) or 10 ½ x 7 ½ (2.5 Qt.) casserole dish. Also preheat a sauté pan over medium heat.
Add the oil and onions to the sauté pan and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the celery and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the thyme, sage, black pepper and a generous pinch of salt, and stir to combine. Remove from heat.
Crumble about half of the cornbread into the prepared casserole dish (texture can vary from crumbs to some larger chunks). Add the bread cubes, sautéed vegetables, remaining cornbread, and pepper (if using) and carefully stir to combine. Add just enough vegetable broth so that everything is well-soaked but not overly soupy, 3 to 4 cups.
Cover the dish tightly with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes or until lightly browned on top and hot in the center. Cover again if the top begins to look too brown before the center is done.
Remove from the oven and let stand for a few minutes. Serve hot.
If using a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish, cooking time may be slightly reduced. This also depends on how dry your cornbread is. Just test the center, using a butter knife, skewer, or chopstick, for heat and moisture. When done it should still be moist inside but not soupy.Store leftover dressing in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.