6 New Spices and Herbs You Should Be Using
This is an up-and-coming herb according to the Spice Island Marketplace at the Culinary Institute of America. Although this is a relatively new herb to many American cooks, epazote has been used in Mexico for cooking and for medicinal purposes for thousands of years.
In Mexico, epazote is best known for flavoring bean dishes and making herb tea. One new use suggested by the Spice Island Marketplace is to drizzle some olive oil on top of flat bread and sprinkle epazote over the top. Then heat and serve.
How it improves dishes: Epazote has a powerful flavor similar to licorice and can be used in bean dishes as well as eggs, burritos, rice, soups and stews, salad, quesadillas, and meat dishes. And there is one benefit that comes from using epazote in bean dishes that goes beyond flavor. In Mexico, it's known for helping diffuse the gas-inducing effect of beans.
6. Herbs de Provence
Herbs de Provence (also called Herbs of Provence) is a blend of five or six herbs reminiscent of France's sunny Provence region. The herbs included in the blend vary by brand but usually include thyme, basil, savory, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, or lavender. When you buy this blend, the individual herbs are already conveniently balanced and ready to inspire flavorful cooking.
How it improves dishes: This sweet and fragrant aromatic herb blend adds depth and complexity to your hot dishes. It can be used as a rub on roasts, meats, and fish and works great on the grill. It can be added to marinades or sprinkled into sautés, omelets, vegetable dishes, sauces, and soups.
Tips for Buying, Using, and Storing Dried Herbs
If your grocery store doesn't stock the spices or herbs mentioned in this story, try searching for them on line.
- Store dried herbs in a cool, dark place, especially if they come in a clear glass container.
- Dried herbs usually taste stronger than fresh herbs. So if a recipe calls for fresh herbs and you're using dried instead, use about 1/3 less. If the recipe calls for a tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs, a teaspoon of dried herbs will do.
- Dried herbs lose flavor over time. If stored correctly, they will last about a year. Sniff the herbs before you use them. If you can't smell anything, they're past their prime.
Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the author of numerous books on nutrition and health. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.