Festive Fall Cheese Ball
Herb-Roasted Turkey with Apples and Oranges
Fennel-Arugula Salad with Baked Mushrooms
Sherried Sweet Potatoes with Chipotles and Sage
Ruby Red Cranberry Relish
Cornbread Dressing with Fruits, Nuts and Mint Marigold
Autumn feasts celebrate the herbal harvest in all its bounty. My Texas garden bursts with color at this time of year—scarlet spikes of pineapple sage, brilliant golden mint marigold, silver sages and verdant stands of Italian parsley and chives, rosemary and mints are at hand for seasoning, garnishing and creating exquisite table bouquets. Serving glorious meals for friends is my way of giving thanks for my garden before its winter respite.
This feast celebrating The Herb Companion’s tenth anniversary could just as well serve as a memorable Thanksgiving dinner with a southwestern flair. From the moment your guests arrive, they’ll know this is no ordinary meal. Begin with a savory cheese ball rolled in chopped cilantro and surrounded by crisp fruit slices and crackers. Then serve individual salads of seasonal greens and fennel bulb in a zesty Dijon mustard and paprika vinaigrette topped with a baked mushroom cap mounded with piquant blue cheese filling. Bring the roast turkey to the table with a flourish—on a platter wreathed in herbs and autumn flowers and fruits—and don’t be surprised if you’re greeted with applause. Rubbed with spices and stuffed with handfuls of aromatic herbs, apples, and oranges, this bird is moist and succulent.
Mexican mint marigold offers a spicy anise flavor to a hearty cornbread stuffing while cilantro, serrano chiles and marmalade add sparkle to Ruby Red Cranberry Relish. Sherry, smoky chipotles, roasted garlic, and sage strut their stuff against the gentle flavor and comforting texture of baked sweet potatoes. For crunch and contrast, add fresh green beans tied in bundles and steamed with sprigs of lemon thyme, braised Brussels sprouts, or lightly steamed broccoli to the array of aromatic dishes.
Prepare some of these dishes in advance for convenience; make others ahead to let their flavors marry. Give yourself time to relax and enjoy your guests and your late-season garden. You’ll say grace for its bounty.
Lucinda Hutson is an herb gardener, chef, and author of The Herb Garden Cookbook, 2nd edition (Gulf, 1998). She lives in Austin, Texas.