This time of year we are reminded to think about what we’re thankful for, and family, friends and good food always top the list! Holiday meals are a great way to gather together and celebrate our thankfulness with great food. To make the meal really special and add that “something extra” everyone will find delicious, cook with fresh herbs instead of dried.

The main herbs in traditional poultry seasoning are sage, thyme, marjoram and rosemary. These herbs play well together and are excellent in a turkey rub or injection recipe as well as in dressing recipes. While excellent used in the traditional manner, herbs are versatile and can be used to enhance the holiday meal in several ways.

Sage

For an easy and scrumptious treat, fry sage in olive oil over medium-high heat for a few seconds just until crispy, but not brown. Fried sage can be used as an edible garnish on the turkey platter or dressing dish or crumbled and sprinkled on sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes and gravy. Eat it as an appetizer on top of parmesan crackers spread with fig jam. It goes with everything!

Rosemary

Rosemary. Photo by Fir0002, Wikimedia Commons.

Rosemary

Add fresh chopped rosemary to your favorite dinner roll recipe. Using store-bought refrigerated dough? No problem! It works just as well as in a homemade version. Add rosemary sprigs to gravy and as a garnish in hot holiday beverages.

Chives

Try chives on top of mashed potatoes whipped with sour cream or mascarpone cheese.

Lemongrass

Looking for something less traditional or like to be adventurous with your holiday meals? Try adding lemongrass to a quinoa salad for an Asian-inspired twist that is sure to surprise and please!

If changing up tradition isn’t on the menu, there’s always room to be inventive with the leftovers. Turkey sandwiches can quickly wear out their welcome. Change it up with a light and lovely fragranced turkey and lemongrass soup.

Thyme and parsley

Thyme and parsley can go in practically everything. Add thyme to wild rice dishes, dressing, and even fresh homemade cranberry sauce. Top any dish with parsley for fresh flavor.

Bay leaves

Bay leaves add great flavor to soups, stews and sauces. Tonkadale carries little bay trees, which are both beautiful for the tabletop and functional!

Having your holiday meal catered? Add a personal and fresh touch with fresh chopped herbs and sprigs for garnish.

How about an olive oil infusion? Any herb, or combination of herbs, can be added to oil and let rest for a couple days before the big holiday. Drizzle infused olive oil on mashed potatoes, over turkey, or combine with balsamic or pear vinegar for a dip for rolls.

For the kids and the kid in all of us – popcorn! Yup, we’re still talking herbs. Make fresh popcorn and toss with crispy fried sage, thyme, chopped rosemary, a little salt, and your choice of nuts and dried fruit. Yum!

Fresh herbs are easy to use and add a special touch to any dish. Herb plants can be kept indoors for a few weeks and make any dish special well after the holidays as well as making any kitchen that much more inviting. If keeping herb plants around isn’t on your wish list, just chop and freeze them in ice cube trays, then transfer to a freezer container. Toss in a cube or two to flavor future dishes.

Happy holiday cooking!