Cooking with Culinary Herbs this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving season is almost upon us, and that comes along with the best part of the holiday—the food! Thanksgiving dinner is known to be the most anticipated meal of the year, partially due to all of the rich seasonings and flavors that come along with it. Several of these mouthwatering flavors are attributed to culinary herbs, many of which can be found at the Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens' very own herb collection. Here are some of the herbs you can find in the culinary quadrant of the herb garden, and how you can include them in your Thanksgiving meal:

Winter Savory

Winter savory adds a spicy, peppery seasonal taste to any dish. The leaves of this culinary herb are bright green, narrow and tough, making it best used for recipes that require a long and slow cook. These include Thanksgiving meals like stews and beans, which will provide enough heat and moisture to break down the leaves. Winter savory also blends well with other culinary herbs such as oregano, thyme, and basil and can be added to meat, poultry, or fish. Dried winter savory also adds an additional layer of flavor when mixed with other herbs like sage, thyme, and bay, to spice up your Thanksgiving stuffing.

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Chives

While chives are typically an after-thought in cooking and commonly used as a garnish, their delicate onion flavor is much more versatile and has many other uses. To make the most of the bright flavor of chives while retaining their beautiful green color, either use chives in their raw form or add them at the end if you must cook them. Chives are known to pair well with potatoes, so try blending them in with your creamy Thanksgiving mashed potatoes, or sprinkle them on your steamed or baked potato side dish. Chives also complement seafood and fish dishes, along with adding brightness to cream sauces and flavored butter.

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Rosemary

Rosemary is known to be one of the most aromatic and robust culinary herbs, making it a staple in Thanksgiving meal preparation. Its needlelike leaves offer a strong lemon-pine flavor. Make sure to use a light hand with rosemary due to its pronounced and robust flavor. Not only can rosemary be added to soups, stews, and casseroles, but whole sprigs can also be roasted with root vegetables. Of course, rosemary is also a key component to your turkey preparation. Add dried rosemary to your turkey rub and fresh sprigs to your stuffing to intensify the flavor of your Thanksgiving turkey.

Basil

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While basil is known to marry well with tomatoes, it also pairs beautifully with other Thanksgiving flavors like onions, garlic, and olives. While many strong herbs can overpower basil's flavor and aroma, oregano (which can also be found in the Bartlett's herb garden) is most commonly used in conjunction with basil. Basil can be best used to add subtle bright flavor to appetizers and sides such as asparagus, roasted peppers, or vegetable soup. Even mix fresh basil into your festive fall cocktails! Muddle basil in with your lemon or berry-flavored drinks to balance out the sweetness.

Now that you've gathered some inspiration for your upcoming Thanksgiving meal, make this year the best one yet! Come to the Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens' herb garden today to find several other culinary herbs to spice up your cooking. Click here to learn about the Herb Garden and lots of our other collections.

We wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving!