With the last few months of the year littered with festive feasts and office parties and big holiday meals, one should go into the season fully prepared for whatever comes their way. That’s why we think you should get a head start on your Holiday Herb Garden! Enter the holidays armed with the freshest ingredients for cocktail parties and main-course menus all season long.
Used in countless recipes, not to mention almost every turkey or stuffing recipe, parsley is a non-fuss herb to keep in your garden. Just keep the soil lightly moist and free from any standing water. If you would like to fertilize or feed the plant, try fish emulsion or half-strength liquid fertilizer every two weeks.
It’s best to start parsley from seeds sown directly in the container because parsley has a long tap root that doesn’t transplant well. Sprinkle a few seeds on the surface of the soil and cover them with an additional 1/4 inch of soil. Water the pot regularly to keep the soil moist to the touch but not soggy, and expect seedlings to emerge in three weeks or so.
The great thing about parsley is that it loves company! You can grow other herbs in the garden if desired. When planting thyme with parsley herbs, stick them around the edges of a container or hanging basket where it can tumble over the edges.
Try this incredible Parsley, Lemon, and Garlic Roasted Turkey recipe for a show-stopping (and fiercely fresh) main event.
- 1 free-range turkey (ideally Norfolk Black or Bronze), about 5–5.5kg
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 onions, peeled and halved
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
- 6 bay leaves
- olive oil, to drizzle
- 8 rashers of streaky smoked bacon
Lemon, parsley and garlic butter:
- 375g butter, at room temperature
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- finely grated zest and juice of 2 small lemons
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- small bunch of flat-leaf parsley leaves only, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas 7. Meanwhile, prepare the herb butter. Put the butter into a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and mix well. Add the lemon zest and juice, crushed garlic and chopped parsley. Mix well to combine.
- Remove the giblets from the turkey cavity. Season the cavity well with salt and pepper, then stuff with the onions, lemon, garlic halves and 2 bay leaves.
- With your hands, loosen the skin on the breast from both ends of the bird so that you will be able to stuff the flavored butter underneath it, making sure you keep the skin intact. Repeat with the skin on the legs – from the lower side of the breast feel your way under the skin and out towards the leg, loosening the gap.
- Stuff half the butter mix into the opened spaces under the skin. From the outside of the skin, gently massage the butter around the breasts so that the meat is evenly covered. Finally, insert the rest of the bay leaves under the skin of the breasts.
- Place the bird in a large roasting tray, breast side up. Spread the rest of the butter all over the skin. Season well with salt and pepper, then drizzle with a little olive oil. (If preparing a day ahead, cover the turkey with foil and refrigerate at this stage.)
- Roast the turkey in the hot oven for 10–15 minutes. Take the tray out of the oven, baste the bird with the pan juices and lay the bacon rashers over the breast to keep it moist. Baste again. Lower the setting to 180°C/Gas 4 and cook for about 2½ hours (calculating at 30 minutes per kg), basting occasionally.
- To test whether your turkey is cooked, insert a skewer into the thickest part of the leg and check that the juices are running clear, rather than pink. As oven temperatures and turkey shapes and sizes vary, it is crucial to check your turkey about 30 minutes before the calculated roasting time. If the juices are pink, roast for another 15 minutes and check again. Repeat as necessary until the turkey is cooked.
- Transfer the turkey to a warmed platter and remove the parson’s nose, wings and tips of the drumsticks; reserve these for the gravy. Leave the turkey to rest in a warm place for at least 45 minutes; make the gravy in the meantime. Remove the bay leaves from under the skin before carving. Serve the turkey with the piping hot gravy, stuffing and accompaniments.
Nothing says fall like sage. Plant your sage in medium to full sun, ideally near a sunny window. In the shorter days of winter, consider moving your plant under artificial lights, such as on the counter, to give it some extra rays. For every hour of sunlight required, give growing sage indoors two hours under the artificial light. It doesn’t need to be watered all that much since it is a drought-tolerant herb. If your leaves start to look a little wilted, a drizzle of water perks the entire plant right up. Wait until the soil is dry again to give it a thorough watering and avoid standing water at all costs. You don’t want to drown your little plant!
What is a holiday meal without hot buttered rolls? Lucky you, you’ve got some fresh ingredients right inside to liven up your table with this Sage Roll recipe.
- 2⁄3 cup milk
- 1tablespoon sugar, white
- 1teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 1package active dry yeast
- 1⁄3 cup lukewarm water
- 2 teaspoons dried sage or two teaspoons ground sage
- 1⁄4 cup wheat germ
- 21⁄4 cups flour
- In small pot, combine milk, sugar, salt and 1 tbsp butter; heat to lukewarm and set aside.
- In large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/3 cup of lukewarm water.
- Add the lukewarm milk mixture to the dissolved yeast.
- Stir in sage, wheat germ and 2 cups flour.
- Add remaining 1/4 cup flour to form a soft dough, kneading lightly till smooth.
- Leave in warm spot, covered, until doubled in size.
- Melt remaining 4 tbsps of butter and pour half into a 9" cake pan.
- Shape dough into 12 balls.
- Place in pan and drizzle with remaining butter.
- Cover and rise 30- 45 minutes more.
- Bake in 400-degree oven for 20- 25 minutes.
Whether it’s in a buttered rub for a turkey or sprinkled on roasted potatoes, rosemary is a must have in your Holiday Herb Garden. It does well when grown indoors in pots and containers and alongside other herbs. Grow rosemary from seed for the best, freshest yield. However, if you do the transplant, the herb needs a lot of light and minimal watering, and it can seem somewhat sensitive until you get these amounts right. Plant next to sage for similar needs of sunlight and watering.
Put all that yummy rosemary to work in this classic Rosemary Roasted Potato recipe.
- 1 1/2 pounds small red or white-skinned potatoes (or a mixture)
- 1/8 cup good olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoons minced garlic (3 cloves)
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cut the potatoes in half or quarters and place in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary; toss until the potatoes are well coated. Dump the potatoes on a baking sheet and spread out into 1 layer; roast in the oven for at least 1 hour, or until browned and crisp. Flip twice with a spatula during cooking to ensure even browning.
- Remove the potatoes from the oven, season to taste, and serve.
Great in soups and stocks, thyme is an easy-care herb for any seasonal garden. This sweet-smelling herb needs lots of sunshine and water only once the soil is completely dried out. If you choose to fertilize, do so with a solution of fish emulsion or liquid seaweed, diluted by half every two weeks. Cut back overly woody stems on the thyme plant to force fresh new growth and make sure to prune off flowers and dry them for a sachet or use them in tea. Waste not!
Double up on your herb garden harvest with this Thyme and Parsley Stuffing, just in time for Thanksgiving!
- 1onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 85g/3oz fresh white breadcrumbs
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1egg, beaten
- Sweat the onion in the oil until soft.
- Mix the onion with the breadcrumbs and herbs and season well. Stir in enough egg to bind.
- Use to stuff meat or poultry, or roll into individual stuffing balls - cook these in the roasting tin with the meat for 30 minutes at the end of the cooking time.