Have we told you how much we love spices? They’re more than hints of flavor. They allow us to savor the tastes and traditions of other regions without ever leaving home. And what better way to travel than by our taste buds? Trust us, the packing’s much easier, too.
So you’re invited to take a trip around the world with us by way of our favorite spices. Through good old trial and error, we’ve learned a bit about incorporating them into our own food. And we’d love to share that knowledge with you.
First, let’s head south for a quick trek along the Andes and a taste of one of our favorite flavors, the aji amarillo pepper.
Careful, this spice packs some heat. Though it’s name, “amarillo” suggests that it’s yellow, it’s actually a bright orange pepper when ripe. But there’s way more to love here than what you’d expect. Its heat is complex and even a bit fruity. Far from one-note. So we like to say that it gives food a kick with an extra little dance at the end.
Fresh aji amarillo peppers can be hard to find, but a paste is often easy to get ahold of. Plus, a paste makes it easy to experiment. Add a little of it into a sauce for roasting or garnishing and play around with the heat of that dish. Just remember, it’s easier to add than subtract!
Next, we’ll head east to the Mediterranean and pick a must-have ingredient for any classic Mediterranean meal.
OK, OK, so basil isn’t really an exotic spice as much as a tried-and-true herb. But it will always be an absolute favorite. And how could anyone possibly take a trip to the Mediterranean without tasting a little? We just love how its peppery sweet flavor enhances every meal. And the fact that it contains essential oils and nutrients known for their anti-oxidant and antibacterial properties is just the garnish on the dish, if you will.
It’s hard to find a meal you can’t add basil to, so we like to throw it in with everything from fish to soups and, of course, pasta. Or you can mix it up in a little pesto and add it to a sandwich for that little something extra. We’ve found that cooking basil can compromise the flavor, so to keep it fragrant, wait until the final moments of preparation before adding it.
The last stop on our journey is India, where we find one of our all-time favorites, turmeric. Mmmm, can you smell the curry simmering on the stove?
There’s no excuse for boring when you have turmeric in your pantry. We just love how bold and vibrant it is, and we aren’t even talking taste yet. Its rich, bright color livens up any dish you put it in, which alone is reason to love it. The flavor itself is mild, if used in moderation, buttery and slightly bitter, with a hint of mustard. And with unique polyphenols and antioxidant properties, it’s definitely a keeper.
We like to incorporate turmeric into a savory bean and lentil soup or a roasted Indian dish. But because it can be quite bitter if you add too much, we suggest starting with a little at a time and adding as you go.
And, well, here we are again – back home, with almost nothing to unpack but a few extra spices in the pantry. The best part is, we can journey back again to almost any meal we choose. Because there’s never a wrong time to spice things up!