If you’re bored of steamed vegetables, or yet another green salad, it’s time to go abroad for some inspiration. Each of these seven spice combinations for vegetables draws from a classic cuisine, from Aleppo to Mexico City.
For the best results, use the freshest spices you can buy and store blends in airtight containers in a dark, cool cabinet.
Feel like it’s time for a flavor kick? Make these spice blends.
1. Cumin, coriander, turmeric, pepper, and salt.
Combine 1 T ground cumin, 1 T ground coriander, 2 tsp ground turmeric, 1/4 tsp ground pepper, and 1/4 tsp salt. Mix well. Use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per quart of vegetables. Just before serving, squeeze a little lime juice over it for an extra layer of flavor. Try with:
- oven roasted vegetables, like carrots, winter squash, and/or cauliflower.
- stir-fried French-cut green beans or cabbage.
- braised winter squash or pumpkin.
2. Smoked paprika, sumac, coriander, and pepper.
Combine 1 T ground smoked paprika, 3 T sumac, 2 tsp coriander, and ground black pepper to taste. Mix well. Use about 1 tsp per quart of vegetables, or to taste. Try with:
- oven roasted cauliflower.
- roughly mashed boiled potatoes and carrots.
- grilled yellow squash.
3. Cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, and oregano.
Combine 2 T cumin, 2 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp cayenne, and 1 T oregano flakes. Mix well. Use about 1/4 tsp per cup of vegetables, or to taste, adding fresh garlic to taste. Try with:
- stir-fried peppers, onions, broccoli, and summer squash.
- roasted winter squash.
- tomato-based vegetable soup.
4. Black pepper, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Combine 2 T black pepper, 2 T allspice, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp nutmeg. Mix well. Use this instead of black pepper for a more complex flavor. Try on:
- vegetable-based stews, especially those with eggplant or tomato.
- grilled summer squash or bell peppers.
- flavor an olive oil-based marinade with it.
5. Chili powder, red pepper flakes, cumin, and ground chipotle pepper.
The ratios here will depend on your tastes. Like it with a kick? Be more generous with the red pepper flakes and chipotle pepper. Prefer mild? Go light and leave it mostly chili pepper. Try it on:
- sweet potato and black bean stew.
- stir-fried cabbage.
- roasted root vegetables.
Have fun! And feel free to share your favorite spice combinations over on the Balance: Food and Nutrition Facebook page.
About Culinary Uses of Anti-inflammatory Herbs and Spices
I encourage many clients to incorporate some herbs and spices into the way they eat– partly, because some of these plants have powerful compounds that are sometimes beneficial; partly, some of these plants taste delicious!
The amounts I recommend are culinary. They are intended to enhance food and make it fun to eat. Spice combinations like these will make eating your frozen vegetables or taking on a plant-based Meatless Monday stew more engaging.
The main reason I recommend culinary use is because I don’t have enough data to confidently say using more is worth the time, money, and effort for my clients. Long-term health studies are lacking, although we can confidently say that some herbs and spices do have certain compounds that have protective benefits. That’s another topic for another day, so keep coming back for that topic.