Fresh Herbs Pack a Healthy Punch in Holiday Italian Stuffing | 4M’s on Marco

Haven’t made your stuffing yet? Try something new this Thanksgiving. One of my favorite recipes for holiday meals is Italian Herb Stuffing. Celebrating with Italian flare always adds a bit of zest to the meal! My husband adapted this recipe over a decade ago while he was researching Thanksgiving recipes. We only have an old email he sent himself with ingredients from 2008; we are not sure where the recipe originated, but over the years, we’ve made it our own. It’s packed with healthy herbs, savory meat, and a unique twist – cornbread. An excellent recipe for utilizing fresh herbs from the garden.

If you’re ahead of the game today, and your menu is final, try this stuffing for the holiday meals ahead.


1-lb. ground Italian Sausage (mild or spicy, we prefer spicy)

Stick of Pepperoni (Battistoni brand is excellent)

1-32-oz carton of organic chicken stock

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 cup of butter cubed

2 cloves of chopped garlic

1 small onion

5 stalks of celery

1/2 cup of fresh chopped sage

2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only

1-2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves only

1/2 cup of fresh chopped basil

2 cups of shredded whole-milk mozzarella

1 loaf of Italian bakery bread

1 package of Jiffy corn muffin mix


Bake cornbread in an 8×8 square Pyrex pan as directed on the package.

Butter Italian bread loaf with one stick (1/2 cup) of butter and bake at 425-degrees until bread is crisp and lightly brown. Leave out for an hour or so to harden. Cut the cornbread and toasted Italian bread into cubes and set aside in a large bowl. If you prepare this step ahead of time, store the bread in a plastic bag and make sure the bread is cooled completely.

In a large fry pan, brown the Italian sausage. Set aside. Chop 2 inches of pepperoni into cubes. Fry lightly in sausage grease. Set aside. Chop garlic, onion and celery and sauté in grease from the meat, adding more olive oil if needed. Cook until vegetables are lightly browned. Mix sausage, pepperoni, and vegetables in a medium glass bowl and let cool.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. When ready to prepare, mix the meat and vegetable blend with the bread cubes and chopped herbs in an extra-large bowl. Toss and mix well. In a well-oiled 9×13 pan, spread the mixture out (you may need an additional 8×8 pan, it makes a lot), layout 1/2 cup of cubed butter on top evenly, pour on 1/2-3/4 carton of chicken stock, add ground pepper and kosher salt, sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the top.

Bake for 45 minutes, covered with foil. Remove foil, add the remaining chicken stock and bake for 10-15 minutes uncovered or until brown and bubbling.

Serves 12 people.

JoAnne is an integrative wellness consultant, speaker, founder and author of The Meal magazine – a quarterly publication with seasonal recipes, holistic health information and inspiration to slow down and connect around the experience of the meal. Join her Stay Healthy through the Holidays free challenge at, follow her on Instagram @joanne.pavin or contact her at


Rosmarinus officinalis: A strong fragrant evergreen herb rich in volatile oils. He is a member of the mint family. In ancient times, Rosemary was believed to stimulate the brain and help memory so it became associated with remembrance. Bunches of rosemary are still given to those during bereavement today.

Cooking Use: Rosemary has a strong taste and aroma and should be used lightly. It can overpower the dish if overused. It is known in the kitchen for sweet and savory dishes. It is common with lamb and other roast meats. It is commonly added to soups and vegetable broths.

Medicinal: It has a strong antiseptic agent with powerful anti-inflammatory actions. The phenolic acid is antimicrobial. Rosemary has been used internally for the treatment of depression, fatigue, and headaches. It is an excellent circulatory stimulant.


Salvia officinalis: The botanical name given to sage comes from Latin ‘salvere’, meaning to be well, and refers to the herb’s healing properties.

Cooking Use: Sage is best known for sage and onion stuffing served with poultry and pork. It can be added to soups, teas and made into jelly. The taste is warm, strong and dominating. Use sparingly.

Medicinal Use: It has potent anti-inflammatory and antiseptic agents. Sage helps the digestion of rich foods. Sage tea can reduce inflammation and is used as a mouthwash and gargle for inflamed throats and tonsils. Fresh sage leaves can relieve insect bites by reducing pain and irritation.


Thymus vulgaris: Aromatic evergreen perennial herb. The Greeks and Romans would burn thyme to fumigate their rooms and temples, believing it was a source of courage.

Cooking Use: The small leaves or sprigs can be added to soups, meats, and fish dishes. It is commonly used in stuffing for poultry. It can be used in moderate amounts.

Medicinal Use: It has valuable antiseptic properties. It is a decongestant used for respiratory problems. It can be taken internally for colds, coughs, bronchitis, and asthma for its mucus clearing ability. Externally it can relieve painful joints. Thyme tea is helpful for digestive upsets, loss of appetite, and exhaustion.


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