Our spice rack overfloweth. Between gifts we've received, one-off spices we've purchased and impulse-buy spice rubs (yes, there is such a thing, at least around The Bitten Word household), we've got more spices than we could use in a month of dinners.
Rogan josh, whole juniper berries, urfa biber, ras el hanout -- suffice it to say that when the Apocalypse comes and you need to spice up the scraps of food you've scavenged, come on by our place.
So we loved getting this email:
Hi there Bitten Word!
I just moved 3000 miles. During the process I decided to ditch all seasonings from the pantry and start fresh, except for some pricey carribean specialty spice blends that I was given as a gift. What do you think are the top 10 or 15 most important seasonings to have on hand (besides salt and pepper). I think a list like this would be beneficial to share with my sister who is about to be on her own as a college student as well. I love your website and columns! Thank you for your time.
Sincerely and with great taste,
Excellent question, Erin!
Here are our thoughts on the Top 10 spices everyone should have in their pantry.
So, okay. Kosher salt and fresh pepper. What else? Here are the 10 essential spices we always have on hand:
Paprika. This is likely the spice we reach for most often, adding it to potato dishes and, well, just about anything. We have a few kinds, a more standard Paprika and a Smoked Spanish Paprika.
A recipe to highlight paprika: Flank Steak with Paprika Butter.
Cumin. We often add to stews, and anytime we're doing Indian flavored dishes.
A recipe to highlight cumin: Orange and Cumin Pork Loin.
Chili Powder. Make a chili. Or toss it with vegetables before you roast them, or rub it on meat prior to cooking.
Curry Powder. We most frequently use curry powder in tuna salad, actually. But it's perfect for adding great flavor to meats, stews, even fruit desserts.
A recipe to highlight curry powder: Curried Red Lentil Soup.
Sriracha. Okay, this isn't really a spice, but we treat it like one. Sriracha is always what we reach for when we want to quickly add heat to a dish.
A recipe to highlight sriracha: Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Sriracha and Cashews.
Red Pepper Flakes. We toss them into greens, add them to mashed sweet potatoes and sprinkle them on avocados (along with olive oil) for breakfast.
A recipe to highlight red pepper flakes: Quick Sauteed Collard Ribbons.
Cayenne. This is, for some reason, the spice we have the most of in our house.
A recipe to highlight cayenne: Fajita Sweet Potatoes (This recipe uses fajita seasoning, but we've swapped in cayenne on numerous occasions when we haven't had fajita seasoning on hand.)
Cinammon. We use it in oatmeal, when we're baking cookies, and sometimes work it into savory dishes.
A recipe to highlight cinammon: Mexican Chocolate Tart with Cinammon Crema.
Nutmeg. If you're doing a lot of baking, get some nutmeg. We don't use it all that often, but then again we don't bake that frequently.
A recipe to highlight nutmeg: Tot's Egg Custard Pie.
Turmeric. This one comes and goes for us. Sometimes we use it frequently, then months pass without it, but we're always glad to have it on hand.
A recipe to highlight turmeric: Indian Spiced Turkey Meatloaf.
What about you? What are your essential spices? Let us know in the comments!
And if you have a question for "Your Questions," shoot us a note!