Fennel-Herb Bread Stuffing

Happy Thanksgiving SignYou Will Need:
8 Cups whole grain bread cubes (about 9 slices)
1 medium fennel bulb with tops*
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Cup finely chopped carrots
1 Cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 ½ Cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 300°F.
Spread bread cubes in a large shallow roasting pan.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until bread cubes are dry, stirring twice. Cool.
Increase oven temperature to 325°F.
Remove green leafy tops from fennel; strip enough of the tops to measure 1 to 2 tablespoons. Set aside.
Cut off and discard upper stalks. Remove any wilted outer leaves and cut a thin slice from the fennel base.
Cut fennel bulb into wedges, removing the core.
Coarsely chop fennel.
In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat.
Add chopped fennel, carrot, onion, and garlic; cook until tender, stirring occasionally.
Stir in snipped fennel tops, Italian seasoning, pepper and salt.
Place fennel mixture in a very large bowl.
Stir in bread cubes.
Drizzle with enough of the broth to moisten; toss gently to coat.
Transfer mixture to a 2 quart casserole.
Bake, covered, at 325°F for 20 minutes.
Uncover; bake about 20 minutes more or until heated through.

(* Look for fennel bulbs that are clean and crisp with fresh green leaves and no browning. To store fennel, wrap it tightly and refrigerate. Keeps up to five days.)

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