Chances are very high that you have several jars of spices and dried herbs in your pantry. We’re guessing some of them have been lurking there for quite some time. The start of a new year — and a general interest in using what you have, fighting food waste and saving money — presents a great time to take stock of those seasonings. And if they’re gathering dust, now is the time to use them.
In addition to the spice-using recipes below, we’ve learned a few ways to use up these pantry items over the years, including:
- Organize them. Because how else will you know what you’ve got hanging around?
- Keep them visible. If you see them, you’re less likely to forget about them. If you have a blend that really needs using, store it next to your salt and pepper; keeping it highly visible makes it much more likely you’ll actually reach for it.
- Use them at will. Spices and herbs present perfect chances to try your hand at improvisational cooking. Use them in roasted vegetables, salads, dressings, popcorn, meats and so on.
- Make your own blends. Read these blending tips, then go forth and mix together your own.
And now, recipes:
Spiced Shrimp, above. Cinnamon, ginger, coriander, nutmeg and a pinch of cayenne are bound with a few tablespoons of vegetable oil. The method works well with salmon and tuna, too. Serve with a citrusy salsa and corn tortillas or flatbreads.
Rainy-Day Ribs. In case you’ve got a lot of paprika, this recipe uses a quarter cup of it — along with plenty of kosher salt, garlic powder, black pepper and pepper flakes. Of course, you could take liberties with the seasonings here; try substituting a tablespoon or so of that paprika for chili powder, curry powder or another blend you might have in your pantry.
Dry-Rubbed Roasted Salmon. A whole pantry’s worth of spices can be found here: The rub has coriander, black pepper, mustard, juniper, fennel, paprika, cloves and garlic and onion powder. The thick coating keeps the fish moist without needing any added oil.
Speedy Homemade Hummus. Hummus doesn’t need many spices to taste terrific, but it — and other dips, of course — takes well to flavorful additions. Drizzle a little oil over top, then scatter on sumac, za’atar, that random dried herb blend your aunt gave you, the kind of spicy barbecue rub brought back from your dad’s vacation, and a hearty pinch or two from the smoked salt sampler you got in last year’s office gift exchange. (Don’t do that all at once, though.)
Herbed Popcorn. Dried herbs deserve a little attention here, too, don’t they? The smart trick in this recipe is to heat a little oil and then infuse it with dried oregano, dill, thyme and crushed red pepper flakes.
Simple Cinnamon Coffee Cake. This delightful cake includes a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, but we’re thinking any of the spices typically found in baked goods would be nice: Try it with cardamom and ginger and/or a few pinches of ground clove, allspice or star anise, for starters.
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