Whether you are hosting a holiday meal this year or looking forward to making some festive dishes to enjoy throughout the season, here are some tips and tricks to help you when it comes to including herbs in your own holiday cooking.
For many of us, the holiday season is filled with warm memories of special dishes, enticing aromas, and mouth-watering flavors. Sweetly spiced ginger (Zingiber officinale) snap cookies and cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) filled kugel baking in the oven, eggnog topped with ground nutmeg (Myristica fragrans), stuffing laced with sage (Salvia officinalis) leaves, and warm mugs of botanical-infused mulled wine hold a special place and make this season all the more heartfelt.
There’s no doubt about it—herbs add more than delicious flavor, aroma, and fond memories to holiday meals. Each herb has a myriad of wellness benefits as well. Here at the Herbal Academy, we love adding herbs to our cooking (myself included), and we are inspired to fill this holiday season with as many delicious, beneficial herbs as possible, right on our plates!
Getting Started Cooking With Herbs
With so many tasty recipes and scrumptious herbs to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start, yet adding herbs to foods can be as simple as sprinkling a bit of cinnamon on your bowl of morning oatmeal or including fresh leafy herbs or bitter greens in the lettuce mix for your next festive salad. You can also get fancy and create a stock of herbal products to pull from to enhance daily meals, such as herbed butters, vinegars, pestos, and so much more—each adds the amazing benefits of herbs to your holiday cooking.
Perhaps one of the best ways to get started is to add herbs to holiday dishes that you already enjoy making. Punch up your cookies with bits of candied ginger, cinnamon, cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), or even some rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and a pinch of lavender (Lavandula spp.). You can even add a new herb that you haven’t tried before to your stuffing or holiday dip, or throw some parsley (Petroselinum crispum) and sage leaves into your next salad for a pop of fresh herbal flavor.
20 Herbs to Enhance Your Holiday Cooking
Use this handy chart of 20 toothsome treasures as a reference while enjoying meal planning and cooking time in the kitchen!
Many of these culinary herbs have beneficial carminative properties that help to stimulate digestion and antimicrobial properties as well! Most of these herbs would also happily make tasty cups of tea and yummy infused vinegars to use in your holiday cooking. Experiment and have fun!
A Simple Recipe for Bringing Herbs to the Holiday Table
If you are looking for a special herbal indulgence to enjoy this season, whipped herbal butters are just the thing! You can make these ahead of time and store in the fridge or freezer to have on hand when cooking or entertaining.
Whipped Savory Herbal Butter
This spicy-sweet herb-filled butter is lip-smacking delicious and perfect for adding herbs to any meal that calls for butter. Use it to cook in, spread it over squash before baking, dot the butter over veggies in a savory galette, or spread it on bread, biscuits, and cornbread—yum!
½ cup softened butter or butter substitute
1 heaping tablespoon fresh sage (Salvia officinalis) leaves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) leaves, finely chopped
2 to 4 cloves fresh garlic (Allium sativum), minced
½ teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons honey
- Crush and mince the garlic. Combine with salt. Exposing crushed garlic to air before combining with the butter will help activate a beneficial compound of garlic called allicin.
- Whip the butter or butter substitute with a mixer or food processor.
- Add the sage, rosemary, minced garlic and salt, and honey to the butter.
- Whip the butter again until all the ingredients are incorporated.
- Store in a tightly-closed container in the fridge until ready for use. You can even shape the butter using small molds or as a rolled log to slice pieces from and make serving easy!
- Your butter should last for up to a week properly stored in the refrigerator. It can be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to 6 months as well.
The aromas and flavors of herbs bring together the ingredients in a recipe into a memorable experience. These herb-filled dishes are part of life’s tapestry, weaving together moments and memories with each tasty bite. Herbs are a welcome addition to cooking that can enrich each special moment. We hope you have fun this season creating your own herb-enriched foods to share and enjoy!
Happy herbal feasting!
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