I am a creature of habit. Like most people, I have rituals that I cling to and these rituals give me comfort. It will likely come as no surprise, but most of my rituals are food related.
My morning ritual is COFFEE FIRST. Thanksgiving is no exception - roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, peas, gravy, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie for dessert - that is the perma menu. But from time to time, I get adventurous and like to mix it up! And this Award-winning Gluten-free Sausage and Apple Rice recipe is the perfect opportunity to do just that - change it up, seize the day and add this recipe to your Thanksgiving menu! However, mixing it up has not always served me well. I can recall one very bad attempt to mix up Thanksgiving dessert back in 2008.
This apple rice recipe is a great Thanksgiving Stuffing Alternative, gluten-free and Weight Watchers friendly at only 7 WW points on the blue plan per serving. It's full of fall flavors like apple, sage and pine nuts and makes a wonderful Thanksgiving side, Christmas dinner side or alternative to stuffing.
This rice recipe was born out of a gluten-free rice rice pilaf I made to accompany this Maple Cider Grilled Chicken Kabobs recipe for a cooking competition that ended up as a finalist in the Calgary Co op Freshipe Cook-off back in 2013. However, the rice was sooo good that I decided to post it on its own.
For this recipe, you'll need:
- breakfast sausage links
- dried/dehydrated apples
- fresh sage
- fresh baby spinach
- brown/wild rice blend
- chicken soup stock
- pine nuts
- olive oil
If you're looking for sausage and rice recipes, you'll love this gluten-free side. I use dried/dehydrated apples in this dish because they are quicker, there is no peeling, coring or cooking and they give the dish a such a unique texture that really works! I also use breakfast sausages because I have them on hand and they are mild so they don't overpower the dish.
📖 Variations & Substitutions
- Sausage: you could mix it up and use a maple or brown sugar sausage or even a spicy sausage
- Vegetarian: skip the sausage and use vegetable stock if you want to make it vegetarian. This will also bring down the Weight Watchers points.
- Pine nuts: you could substitute toasted pecans or toasted almonds
- Fresh sage - you could substitute dried sage, but you'll need half the amount as you would use fresh
- Fresh spinach - you could substitute frozen, but I highly recommend using fresh!
I haven't found many easy Thanksgiving dinner sides that I'm willing to let into my little Thanksgiving dinner clique, but this one is in! However, the disaster of a dessert I tried to create back in 2008 is not welcome ...
My daughter was born in 2007 and by the fall of 2008 I had lost almost all of my baby weight. However, I wanted to stay on track with my weight loss goals. And holidays are always a very challenging time. So, I was making Thanksgiving dinner and thought I'd try to create a low-fat, simple and quick dessert; yet something that was similar to pumpkin pie. Also, I wanted something baby could eat - it was nice and mushy! In the end, I created a parfait out of graham crackers, canned pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and light Cool- whip. All the main ingredients in pumpkin pie that should taste great, you say? But you guessed it- NOPE! Totally did not work - pretty gross AND unsatisfying! The sucky part is, I may as well just had pumpkin pie. In fact, I still wish I had. Oh, how I missed my pumpkin pie that year... I wish I had this Weight Watchers Crustless Pumpkin Pie back then!
But I can guarantee you that you don't have to give anything up to add this delicious gluten-free apple rice with sausage dish to your repertoire.
💭Top Tip: How to Shape Rice
Serving your rice in a shape, as pictured below, gives it a little touch of elegance. If you're not sure how to do it, then check out this video: How to shape rice for serving *NOTE: This rice isn't as sticky as your typical rice, so you really have to compress it as you spoon it into the bowl. Then you may also need to run a butter knife around the edges of the bowl to loosen it.
👪 Serving size
This recipe makes 8 servings. You can cut this recipe in half, double it or triple it by simply clicking on the blue servings number in the recipe card and the ingredient amounts will adjust accordingly.
- The rice can be made ahead and stored, in a sealed container, in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Reheat: Reheat this recipe in the microwave for 3-5 minutes or until warm.
- Cook sausage to a minimum temperature of 160 °F (71 °C) . Temperature is the very best way to check for doneness. I use this instant read thermometer- (affiliate link) it's great for everything food related!
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched the raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
So, if you are looking for gluten free side dishes for Thanksgiving this year, you can welcome this Sausage Apple Rice into the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner fold with no regrets!
Did you make this recipe? Please RATE THE RECIPE below!
📋 Sausage and Apple Rice
- 6 fresh breakfast sausage links chopped into ¼ inch circles
- 1 cup finely chopped dried/dehydrated apples
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 1 ½ cups fresh baby spinach washed and dried
- 2 cups dry brown rice/wild rice blend cook as per package directions
- Chicken stock or vegetable stock amount according to package direction of rice
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Make the rice: Cook rice according to package directions, but use chicken stock or vegetable stock in place of water.
- Cook sausage in a frying pan on stove top over medium heat until no longer pink and set aside.
- Heat a frying pan on medium high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and the pine nuts. Toast, for a minute or so, stirring, then add sage and spinach. Continue to stir until spinach is soft and pine nuts are fragrant. Remove the mixture and stir into rice.
- Stir in chopped dried apples and sausage into the rice and serve warm.