…parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
~Simon & Garfunkel song lyrics~
The often portrayed image of a Canadian Thanksgiving is that of a family sat around the dinner table stuffing themselves silly on all manner of animal product: dairy, egg, poultry, giblets, eww! I’ll stop right there. These days you never know who you might expect at the dinner table. When a meal turns meatless it need not be tasteless. Today is Canadian Thanksgiving and this Meatless Monday post will profile some key ingredients that can make any meatless meal healthy and deliciously memorable for your guests’ taste buds.
Thanksgiving is considered a celebration of the bounty of the harvest and a time to give thanks for all that we have. In Canada this holiday falls on the second Monday in October. In the US it is celebrated in November with the pilgrims being credited for inventing this occasion. There are a few theories of how Thanksgiving came to be in Canada: part European tradition, part end of war celebration and part thankfulness on an expedition.
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme are herbs mostly native to the Mediterranean. They are easily found in grocery stores and can dress up any savoury feast with the smells and tastes reminiscent of the changing seasons. They go well in dressing, nut roast, lentil loaf, mashed potatoes, soup, vegetarian gravy and with roast vegetables, rice, seitan and tofu. These herbs also contain nutrients, antioxidants and can help impart a healthy effect through your food. In aromatherapy, the essential oils obtained from these plants have chemical constituents with medicinal properties some of which also carry over into culinary application.
All health benefit links below are from the website The World’s Healthiest Foods.
Parsley contains oxidant-fighting flavonoids and vitamins C and A. Chlorophyll, a green pigment in the plant, can also help freshen breath.
Health benefits of parsley
Sage is said to be antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and a memory booster. See link below for synopsis on some sage studies.
Health benefits of sage
Rosemary helps with digestion, circulation and immunity. And it tastes great with mashed potatoes.
Health benefits of rosemary
Thyme can help with respiratory ailments such as coughs and bronchitis. It has been tested for antimicrobial and antioxidant action. Thymol, the main constituent, is also considered antiseptic.
Health benefits of thyme
- Buy small amounts of herbs and use them up within a few months. Spices that stay on the shelf too long lose their efficacy and taste.
- When using dried herbs, crush them with your fingers to release the oil. This is where the flavour is concentrated.
- To extract the most flavour, add the crushed herbs to the onion and garlic after lightly cooking them.
- Make sure there is some cooking oil involved in your food prep. It will act as a carrier to bring the oils and flavour of the herb to the rest of the food ingredients.
- Dry herbs are far more concentrated than fresh so use small amounts of dry or large amounts of fresh for equivalent potency.
dressing vs. stuffing
Dressing is cooked alongside the bird while stuffing is cooked inside of it.
So what do vegetarians/vegans call this savoury bread-based dish when there is no bird?