6 herbs and spices that'll add a kick to your kitchen this winter
Whether spicy or sweet – or both – your menu is sure to benefit from these flavors.
It's getting colder by the day out there, which means odds are you'll be spending more time nestled inside, perhaps passing the hours cooking and eating. This year, how about adding one of these spices to your dishes to add flavor that'll pack a new punch.
Native to India, cardamom is commonly used in that country's cuisine and in Eastern medicine. Here in America its spicy, citrusy flavor is most commonly found in tea and coffee. It's also a terrific spice to use to add a pop to dishes that would otherwise lack it. Try this butternut squash soup recipe from our own Israeli Kitchen channel or, on those cozy winter days, this green chicken soup with rice. Then you'll understand why cardamom is so coveted in many cuisines.
Odds are you hear a lot about mint over the holidays, but in the context of candy and all manner of other treats. Fortunately, it's also one of the flagship flavors of the Mediterranean diet. Try a quinoa tabbouleh with mint tahini or an Israeli salad when you want to step away from the sugar. For those cold days when you just want to warm up in front of the fireplace, you can't go wrong with a nice hot cup of mint tea. If you can't suppress that sweet tooth, make it somewhat healthy with this delicious pink grapefruit sorbet, highlighted by just a hint of mint.
Plop a handful of aromatic cloves into a pot of hot cider (or wine, if it's just for the adults) and you've got yourself a party that everybody will want to attend. And there's a lot more you can do than mull drinks with this spice. Cloves are also a great addition to seasonal specialties like ham, baked fruit and pastries. They're even good with pickled cherries, as this recipe from our Israeli Kitchen so insightfully demonstrates.
May you be forewarned, this spice mixture is really good, and whole populations are prone to falling in love with it. Case in point: wild za’atar is actually a protected species in Israel. It's traditionally rubbed on bread or pita there. It's also used everywhere as a tasty addition to an assortment of dishes such as these broiled lamb chops in a Mediterranean marinade and this whole roasted cauliflower.
Ginger is the perfect spice to have around for the cold winter months because of its immune-boosting qualities. You can enjoy it by guzzling a ginger ale, drinking ginger tea or snacking on those spicy, sugar-coated candies for sale at your local market. For even more excitement, how about baking up some lemon ginger muffins, ginger peach muffins or, for the more health conscious among us, this steamed kale with ginger-infused carrots?
Nutmeg is that nutty, sweet spice that we tend to include in our eggnog recipes, but in such a small quantity that we're never quite sure why it's even there. Well, we're not going to solve the riddle here, though what we can tell you is that its presence in this cauliflower gratin and this carrot thyme lentil soup will make its flavor enhancement powers apparent.
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