Have you ever purchased a specific dried herb or spice for one recipe and then let the bottle sit on your spice rack or in the back of your pantry untouched for months, or even years? Do you have herbs or spices in your cabinet that you’ve never even used? I bet you do; I used to as well.
About five years ago, I decided to do something about it. First, I cleaned out my spice cabinet and got rid of all the really old stuff. It was amazing how many spice bottles I had that were probably passed down to me from my mom and grandmother when I first moved out on my own. I bet most of the spices were outdated before they even came into my possession.
Once I had my cabinet cleaned out, I only replaced what I used on a regular basis and decided I would buy others as I learned more about them. I started reading more about spices and even bought a fantastic book called Herbs and Spices: The Cook’s Reference.
The more I read about herbs and spices, the more I wanted to experiment with new flavors. When I purchased something new, I made sure to learn as much as I could – what cuisines favored that particular herb or spice, which flavors combined well with it, etc. Eventually, I had a full spice cabinet again, but the bottles no longer sat untouched. Now I love to experiment with new flavors and I don’t worry about buying something new for one particular recipe – I know that I’ll find a way to use it again and again.
This Warm Red Cabbage Slaw recipe is a perfect example of how my cooking has changed since I decided to take control of my spice cabinet. I purchased a bottle of McCormick Gourmet Caraway Seed for bagels I made for the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge last year. I had never used caraway seed and I really didn’t think I would even like it much. The old Nicole probably would have put the caraway seed away after the bagels were made and never touched it again, but I fell in love with the flavor on my “everything” bagels and decided to learn how to use it in other ways. It’s wonderful in this salad!
Warm Red Cabbage Slaw with Apple and Caraway Seed
3 tablespoons oil, divided (any neutral-flavored oil will do)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 head medium red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
1 small apple, peeled and shredded (about 1 cup)
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon Caraway Seed, lightly crushed (I used McCormick Gourmet Caraway Seed)
In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, brown sugar, mustard and 2 tablespoons of oil. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-low heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat pan. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add cabbage and apple and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, or until cabbage is slightly wilted and crisp-tender. Remove from heat and stir in dressing, a generous pinch of salt, and crushed caraway seed.
If you’re looking to clean out your own spice cabinet, and aren’t sure whether something is too old to keep, check out the handy McCormick Life of Spice guide where you can learn about the shelf life of herbs, spices, and extracts and even check the age of your own McCormick Gourmet spices are by entering the codes from the bottom of your bottles.
As mentioned previously, I have been chosen by McCormick to participate in the McCormick Real Gourmets program. I have been paid by them and I received a box full of McCormick Gourmet spices (that box was so much fun to open!), which are now scattered throughout my kitchen and living room since my spice cabinet is already bulging! I have been using McCormick Gourmet spices for years, and am thrilled for the opportunity to explore new ways to use these wonderful spices.
Do you have any untouched bottles of herbs or spices in your cabinet that you’d like to learn how to use? Try using Food Blog Search to look for recipes containing that ingredient and see if you can find something that appeals to you. The more you cook, the more you’ll learn!
- Tangerine and Jicama Salad with Garlic and Cilantro
- Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Dill Salad
- Broccoli Salad with Bacon and Raisins
Caraway Seed Recipes around the Web: