Keeping your pantry well stocked is the key to being able to turn out a really good meal on a moment’s notice. And to do that with ease, you need the right spices! I said it before, and I’ll say it again – spices are the heart and soul of your pantry.
Last time I covered these eight essentials: salt, black peppercorns, bay leaves, cinnamon, onion and garlic powder, turmeric and dried rosemary (see that blog post here).
And here is the rest of the list – five more essentials to make your spice rack complete!
- Dried basil: Even rooftop gardeners grow basil. And who doesn’t’ know the wonderful aroma and snazzy taste of this herb. But unless you’re making pesto, dried basil is the way to go. It’s easier to cook with, because it can be added during cooking so its flavor will become part of the dish. While fresh is usually better, in the case of basil it actually adds more flavor when used in dried form.
- Paprika: This colorful spice is made by grinding different types of peppers. It can run from sweet to hot, and is even said to be the national spice of Hungary (think goulash). The most common kind, however, is not too sweet and not too hot, making it the perfect way to add some color and mild flavor to everything from mac and cheese to deviled eggs to rice, soups and potato salad.
- Dried oregano: This is another spice that not only tastes great, but has numerous health benefits to it. But when used in cooking, there’s nothing like oregano to spice up a dish. And like basil, it is much easier to use in dried form. Oregano is very potent, so sprinkle sparingly! It’s considered a staple for Italian dishes, as well as chicken and stews. When using the dried herb, crush it a bit in your hand before adding to your dish to release the essential oils.
- Cumin: This amazing spice comes from the dried seeds of a flowering plant that is related to parsley. It’s bold, peppery flavor (I think it also tastes a bit like caraway) goes well with meat and bean dishes, rice, chili, and of course in curries. And cumin is another example of a delicious spice that is said to have phenomenal health benefits.
- Cayenne pepper: A must-have if you like things spicy! And not to sound like a broken record here, but cayenne has been used for thousands of years not just for the taste it imparts, but medicinally as well. It’s high in vitamins C and A, as well as minerals, especially magnesium. Cayenne is said to be especially beneficial for the heart. If you’re not accustomed to using this spice, sprinkle slow and taste as you go!
And never be afraid to try a new spice in your cooking. You may just hit upon your very own “signature” dish that way!