Even if you have a well-stocked spice cabinet, you may not know when to use what. Here are the spices I use most often and a basic guide on when to use them:
Cumin: Adds smokiness to Mexican, Mediterranean, and Indian food. Like these tacos.
Coriander: It’s the ground up seed of Cilantro, so good for Mexican and Indian cooking
Chili Powder: Adds heat to Mexican and Middle Eastern dishes. Like this chili.
Oregano: Great for Mexican, Greek, and Italian cooking. Like these burgers.
Thyme: Italian food, great for poultry, great in many soups. Like this stew.
Sage: Great for poultry (sage + thyme are “Thanksgiving” herbs) and squash-based dishes. Like this gnocchi.
Ginger: Adds punch to Asian dishes, plus good for baking sweets
Cinnamon: Sprinkle on really anything, use in baking and desserts, great for Moroccan and Middle Eastern foods, and a pinch can work wonders in some Mexican dishes (chili, sauces, etc)
Nutmeg: Great for baking, and a pinch adds great flavor to creamy sauces. Like in this Mac n Cheese.
What I Buy Fresh
The following add great flavor, but are best when purchased fresh, not dried. Stir the leafy fresh herbs (basil, parsley, cilantro, dill) into a dish near the end of cooking, so they add maximum flavor and color.
Parsley: I use the curly kind in Taboule, but flat leaf in all other dishes. Great in Italian food, Mediterranean, poultry dishes, and perks up just about any fresh pasta or grain salad. Like this grains salad.
Cilantro: Most traditionally used in Mexican, Asian, and Indian cooking. Like these enchiladas.
Dill (Baby Dill): Great in Mediterranean, Eastern European, and salmon dishes. Like this broiled salmon.
Green Onions or Chives: Perfect in any salad, pasta/grain/potato dish, stirred into rice, and as a garnish for anything. Goes well in any type of cuisine. Like this carrot salad.
Garlic: Use in the base of soups, sauces, dressings – the options are endless!
Onion: Perfect base for any dish, like this one. When sauteed with carrots & celery, you have the base for any soup or sauce.