They say cooking is an art form and requires great skill. I say, if you have a good base and the right seasonings, then you’re almost always guaranteed a win. In the Caribbean, if you only add salt and pepper to your food, they say you don’t know how to cook. Every island has their own go-to combo of spices, but there are some staples that will ensure your pot is seasoned to perfection. Below is a list of 5 herbs & spices you must have if you want to create a winning meal every time. These can be fresh or dried herbs (but fresh is the best option)
In no particular order:
- Salt – this brings out the taste in food. If someone creates a dish and uses nothing else, salt and pepper will definitely be the seasoning of choice. However, it should be used in moderation – too much of a good thing is never okay, and having too much salt in your diet, is a one way ticket to hypertension*-ville. Sea salt is the healthiest option and should be used instead of typical, processed table salt.
- Some kind of Pepper – ok so you have some room for experimenting here. There are many different types of peppers, each with its own level of heat and flavor palette. Everybody knows black pepper, it is the single most popular type. However, I not only like spicy foods, but I like to experiment with different pepper flavors for different foods. And, in addition to black pepper, I prefer to use some type of fresh peppers in my meals – habeneros are usually my go to. Love those little things! But when experimenting, less is more, always add gradually and carefully.
- Onions – it’s funny that I’m including onions in this list, because before I really started cooking real meals, I hated onions. Whether it was raw, sauteed, fried or whatever, I was not a fan; I would do military grade search efforts to find it and remove it from my food. Fast forward to college when I was on my own and had to cook food that I liked to eat, those bulbs crept back into my kitchen and they never left. It’s a must for everything from omelettes to chicken.
- Garlic – so I have a confession, I love garlic – well I love cooking with it. It is considered an aromatic, and with good reason, when added to your meals, especially meat or pasta dishes, garlic really amps up your overall flavor.
- Thyme/Rosemary/Oregano/Basil – ok so I couldn’t choose just one of these, even though they have different flavor palettes, they are all equally as good. Used in combination in Italian cooking, these green herbs (best fresh, but dried works great as well) are great for soups, stews, sauteed dishes, sauces to name a few.
I’m thinking that I’ll end up having a part 2 of this list, but these are the essential 5. Ever go to a restaurant or a friend’s house and eat a meal that you usually cook at home as well? Did you wonder why yours can never taste quite as good as the ones you get elsewhere? Well try adding one or any combination of these amazing herbs and spices and watch how the flavor of your food blossoms.
Hypertension – also called high blood pressure is a medical condition that occurs as a result of too much salt in the diet.