If You Only Had 10: Spices

Cleaning out my spice rack last night gave me an idea. Spice shelf space is limited, which made me wonder which spices are really important. Also, I love making lists.

So here’s the first of what may or may not become a running series called “If You Only Had 10.”

If I only had 10 spices for my spice rack, these are the ones I’d choose in order.

1. Peppercorns and kosher salt: Kitchen gadgets are mostly worthless but a good pepper mill is not a gadget, it’s an essential item. (Also makes a great housewarming gift!) Once you get used to freshly cracked pepper (not to mention the great sound cracking pepper makes), there’s no going back to the ground variety. As for kosher salt, it goes better on vegetables and in dishes than ordinary salt and can be used to make homemade ice cream in a pinch.

2. Basil: There’s no spice as romantic as fresh basil on tomatoes or basil-steeped olive oil or pesto. While dry basil maintains the sweetness of its fresh cousin, all the subtle flavors are lost. Problem is basil is a pain to grow in the winter. Fortunately grocery stores keep fresh basil stocked year round and it does keep in the fridge. Cooking basil for a long time will make the kitchen smell wonderful, but it will also make the basil it lose its flavor so eat it raw or put it in a dish at the last minute.

3. Oregano: If oregano was a person, it would be the owner of an Italian restaurant. If you’re too lazy to make your own spaghetti sauce, try adding a little fresh oregano to jar sauce and see how much better it tastes. It’s easy to grow indoors and hardware stores always have small pots with oregano seeds already in them.

Categories: Dining, Food & Drink