Some of the biggest flavors come in the smallest packages: cardamom pods, Sichuan peppercorns, even the humble grain of salt. Add capers to that list, too.

While they resemble a berry, capers are actually the unopened flower buds of a bush native to the Mediterranean. “The caper bush is distantly related to the cabbage family and has its pungent sulfur compounds, which dominate in the raw flower bud,” writes Harold McGee in “On Food and Cooking.” You can find them brined or salt-cured, the latter of which brings out the aromas of violets and raspberries, McGee says.

Otherwise, capers are often added to bring a pungent, piquant sour-salty flavor to a wide variety of dishes. “The New Food Lover’s Companion” by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst recommends frying them for a crunchy garnish, too.

A jar of capers is a handy thing to keep around, especially when you’re looking to add a little zip to your pantry-friendly standbys. Here are some recipes from our archives to inspire you about how to use them.

Chicken With White Wine, Roasted Lemon and Capers, above. Lemons, crushed red pepper flakes and a generous 1/4 cup of capers brighten this winter braise that also happens to be a one-pan meal.


Baked Trout With Caper Salsa. A mouth-puckering sauce made with capers, shallots, garlic and lemon goes atop your choice of simply baked white-fleshed fish.


The Marvelous Chicken Marbella Redo. Here’s a fantastic reinvention of the beloved dish popularized by “The Silver Palate Cookbook.”


Tofu Steak Veracruzana. Capers are just as happy on top of meatless dishes, including this Mexican-inspired one made with seared cutlets of tofu.


Pork Milanese With Gribiche. The capers feature here in the gribiche, a French cold egg sauce that also includes cornichons, shallot and herbs.


Dill and Mint Yogurt Dip. For a fun snack to enjoy in front of the TV, check out this updated take on sour cream-and-onion dip that boasts a scattering of capers on top.


Mediterranean Tuna Panini. Take a break from your standard tuna melt with this bold sandwich that packs in marinated artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, capers, feta cheese and red onion. For another tuna pairing, see Tuna Steaks With Lemon Caper Sauce Over Arugula.


Mashed Chickpea Toasts With Parsley and Capers. This simple vegan dish can be served as an elegant appetizer or even a main course, especially with a nice salad.

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