I’m no expert when it comes to herbs and spices – I discover them as I go along, picking them up when my recipes say I need them, and getting to grips with them as I go. I’m beginning to get the hang of flavouring with herbs and spices, and thought I’d share my five favourite with you, and little info on some recipes I’ve used them in. Enjoy!
Ok, so garlic isn’t technically a herb but it adds flavour – and that’s why I’m including it in my top 5. We eat garlic every other day in one dish or another – from Italian pasta sauces, to traditional family dishes, garlic gives food soul. There’s nothing better than the smell of onions and garlic sizzling together in a pan.
Use garlic to make my Chicken and Mushroom Pie. Yum!
I love LOVE paprika and I try putting it in anything and everything. It’s a chilli powder and comes from Asa and Africa – as you’d expect, it’s a deep red colour – however the flavour has a lot less heat than chilli powder. The best way to describe the flavour is a rich warmth.
I go through loads of it and love using it in Spaghetti Bolognese.
Fresh basil is always best, ALWAYS. That said, I do have a jar of dried basil for use in dishes as I go, as trying to keep a basil plant alive in an apartment like ours is near impossible, unfortunately. It can be found across all types of cooking – from hearty English pies, through to traditional Chinese cuisine.
The best thing I’ve ever made with basil is Pimiento Piquillo Pesto – it’s by far the nicest pesto I have ever tasted.
If a recipe says to use coriander, use it. In recent years I’ve made the mistake of trying to ‘make-do’ without it and each dish ends up tasting like it’s missing something. You’ll often find it in Asian cuisine – from curries to giant noodle soups, and it goes very well with chilli.
I used it recently in a Butter Bean Stew.
Oregano is known as the ‘pizza-herb’ and is part of the mint family of herbs. It has a strong flavour and is great for savory bread based dishes, as it’s nickname suggests – including pizzas, alongside lots of other Italian dishes.
I used in it my Bulgar Wheat and Parmesan Stuffed Peppers.
[Ok – so there’s room for one more.] There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t use chilli powder in a dish. It’s a staple spice for anyone starting out on their culinary journey and it does just as you would expect – it adds spice. Used alone it can be quite unpalatable however combined with other spices (such as paprika and coriander), it can be really rich.
Once you’ve gotten to grips with chilli, you should try making Eggs in Purgatory.
What’s your favourite herb or spice?
Hayley Jayne xx