Grocery & Nutrition • Nov 8, 2019
“People of the World! Spice up your life!”
The Spice Girls got one thing right. The world could use a little more spice. Innit’s very own, Chef Gabriel Samano says, “one of the major differences between professional chefs and home cooks is an understanding and use of spice.” So, to make the everyday meal a little more exciting, we put together this list of spices you should have on hand. And before you're up in arms, we limited this to 15 and that meant some hard decisions. Let’s see what made the cut.
Okay, so maybe salt is not a spice but could you really imagine a kitchen without salt? Unless you suffer from an iodine deficiency, please ditch the table salt. This coarse salt is chef-preferred for its flavor and the control in seasoning. Get your hands in there and measure kosher salt in pinches.
Salt’s perfect pair. Again, if you can, go with whole peppercorns in a grinder to release intense flavor and aroma only when you need it. If you could only have two spices in your kitchen, start with salt and pepper.
While typically thought of as a baking spice, cinnamon has an aromatic and earthy flavor that also adds depth to hearty dishes like stews and curries. When shopping for cinnamon, look for Saigon or Vietnamese on the label for the most flavorful variety.
Banana Bread Muffin with Cream Cheese
|Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
You may know this spice from the little packets that come with pizza, but there is so much more to this pepper. Typically made from cayenne peppers, a little can go a long way to heat up or balance a blah dish.
Garlic Shrimp with Broccoli and Cauliflower Rice
Ground ginger is one we recommend having on hand for baking and because we know dealing with fresh ginger is not for everyone, we hope you at least have this on hand in a pinch. Check out this tip we have for fresh ginger when you want to get fancy. [Garlic Press Jess]
Spiced Pumpkin Pie
Garlic powder is another spice where you’re cheating, just a little bit. In the name of tasty dishes, we would rather you have garlic powder than no garlic at all. Remember, one clove of garlic = ⅛ teaspoon of garlic powder when substituting.
Mediterranean Frittata with Scallions
Whole nutmeg is recommended over ground nutmeg because of how quickly nutmeg loses its potency and flavor. You will see the taste is much more intense, spicy, and almost peppery. Both baking and cooking will benefit from this flavor boost.
Butternut Squash Gratin
Paprika is prettier than it is pungent. While the deep red color might make you think “WARNING: heat ahead,” paprika is typically made from ground sweet red peppers. Look for Hungarian paprika for the highest quality. Because of its mild flavor, this can also be used as a finishing spice to add color.
Red Pepper Paprika Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese
Like cinnamon, cloves are thought of as a baking spice. Cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg are pretty much the holiday baking dream team, but outside of the holiday season, make sure to try cloves on beef and pork dishes.
Sweet & Sour Chickpea Curry with Cauliflower Rice
Many describe the flavor of this floral leaf to be minty-pine with a little kick. They are widely used in European and Indian dishes to add aroma and to balance heavy meals, like soups, stews, and briyani. It’s best practice use bay leaves whole and remove before serving as they can pose a choking hazard because of their rigidity.
Spaghetti Pesto with Chicken & Mushrooms
A favorite in Mexican, Italian, Mediterranean, South American, and Cajun cooking. Is there anything this herb can’t do? Oregano adds depth to many dishes and, in some cultures, is also used as a condiment.
Green Chili Pork Pozole
Use dried rosemary in a pinch, but this herb is also super easy to grow to have fresh on hand. Use whole springs to add aromatic flavor (think inside the cavity of a whole chicken) and use rosemary sparingly when consumed (think rosemary bread).
Mushroom Rosemary Soup
Fresh thyme is also an herb garden staple, but when you don’t have thyme for that (had to), we recommend giving it a good rub between the palms of your hands to release a little more flavor before adding to a dish.
Smoked Paprika Frittata
This bold spice has a spicy-sweet aroma that is easily detected in many dishes. It is part of many boldly spiced dishes like stew, curry, and chili. It is also commonly used in vegetarian dishes to create a “meatier” flavor.
Okay, this one isn’t a spice either, but think of all the dishes and desserts that would be incomplete without this kitchen staple. Vanilla extract is known to increase the sweetness of a dish without adding sugar, making it a valuable ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes.
Baked Brie with Strawberry Jam