Herbs and spices are what bring life and variety to your meals. With the correct seasoning, any food can taste delicious. You can bring different cuisines and flavors into your kitchen by simply having the right spices in your cupboard. Here are some herbs and spices that you should consider using and which foods to pair them with.
Cumin is a staple spice in Mexican and Middle Eastern cuisine. It is one of the main spices in taco seasoning, curry, and falafels. Cumin has a beautiful earthy flavor that works well with meat and fish, but you can also pair it with black beans or chickpeas.
Trust me— there’s a big difference between smoked and regular paprika. The smoky flavor gives this spice a rich aroma that pairs well with just about any meat or vegetable. Use it on your potatoes, roasted veggies, beans, poultry/tofu— you name it. You can also add some smoked paprika to your omelets for extra flavor.
Cinnamon is the perfect spice to add flavor to your sweet dishes and desserts. It instantly sweetens the meal without adding any sugar. The spice itself is sweet, spicy, and warm. Try adding cinnamon to your baking, morning oats, or parfaits. Cinnamon also pairs perfectly with apples.
If you like a bit of heat, chili is the perfect spice to add to your pantry. This spice pairs well with just about everything. Cuisines all over the world use chili, from Italian to South American. Add this spice to your pizzas, pasta, tacos, soups, or eggs -- the options are endless. Keep in mind that chili powder is usually mixed with other spices, such as cumin, and it may not taste the same as chili flakes.
Parsley is a powerful herb. Fresh parsley is high in micronutrients, such as vitamin A, E, K, and C. Parsley is diverse and primarily used in Middle Eastern and European cuisine. You can garnish almost any meat, poultry, or fish with parsley. This herb goes well with any dish that has lemon or citrus. You can make tabbouleh salad or season your roasted veggies with it.
Fresh basil will add tremendous flavor to your Italian and Mediterranean dishes. You can use dried basil as well, but fresh herbs always have more flavor. This herb pairs well with pasta dishes (especially with tomato sauce), most vegetables, and even watermelon. You can also make pesto with fresh basil and add it to your sandwiches or wraps.
Rosemary is a staple herb, whether it’s fresh or dried. It has a woody, minty taste that instantly adds a Mediterranean feel to your dishes. Rosemary pairs flawlessly with roasted potatoes, lamb, chicken, and fish. It also pairs well with other herbs, such as thyme and parsley. Don’t use too much as the flavor is quite strong.
Thyme is used in a variety of cuisines and dishes. It has a floral, earthy taste similar to rosemary, but it also has citrus notes (especially if you use lemon thyme). You can add thyme to almost any savory dish, but it pairs best with vegetables, potatoes, chicken, beef, and lamb.
Laura RDH, CHC
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