Ok, so after Adam posted about his awesome sounding garlic knot and sausage stuffing, we got to chatting a bit in the comments when it dawned on me that even though it takes it totally out of the realm of a Thanksgiving-ish stuffing, a pizza flavored stuffing made with tomatoes and mozzarella might be totally delicious in its own way.
I like to think of it sort of as a pasta bake, substituting pasta for cubed dry bread. Lazy-man's baked ziti, if you will.
Around 1AM last night, I couldn't wait any longer and decided then and there to try it out. Luckily, I had the ingredients I needed on hand. Essentially, it's my classic sage dressing recipe, replacing the sage sausage for italian, getting rid of the celery, and replacing half the chicken stock with a can of whole tomatoes that I roughly pureed. To the wet mixture, I also added a couple ounces of shaved grated parm.
After adding the cubed bread and folding them in, I added about a pound's worth of cubed up fresh mozzarella, packed it into a casserole dish, sprinkled with more grated parm, then baked it.
The cheese melts into awesome gooey pockets that stretch and ooze when you cut into it while the bread gets nice and soft, absorbing the flavor of the sausage and tomatoes. Don't like calling it lazy-man's pasta bake? Ok, how about hot panzanella? And while I guess this one actually is going to wind up on my Thanksgiving table, I'd be happy eating this any time of year.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Managing Editor of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.