In this article, you will find ways to transform your bland regular dishes into something unique by adding some of these flavorful Spanish herbs and spices.
Are you tired of bland old recipes? Do you sift through magazines looking for spices to give your cooking a boost? Look no further because this article is going to change the way you cook meals.
Enriching the flavor and taste of your dishes is not as hard as you think it might be. All you need is a pinch of a unique spice or herb to transform your dish in minutes.
It’s time you leave dull recipes behind and incorporate these Spanish spices and herbs into your everyday cooking. These spices are surely going to level up your spice cabinet as well.
This article entails Spanish spices and herbs that will give your food the spark it lacks. These spices and herbs enhance the taste of your food and provide you with numerous health benefits. This means that while you enjoy delicious homemade dishes, you are also keeping your health in check.
So, without further ado, dive into the specifics of these spices and find out what your spice rack needs.
Spanish Herbs and Spices
Pimentón is also commonly known as Spanish paprika. Pimentón is prepared from the Hungarian variety of red pepper.
It has a slightly smoky flavor to it. Generally, people dry Pimentón in the sun or over an oak wood fire to give it its distinctive smoky touch.
Pimentón has varying levels of sweetness and heat. People use different blends of peppers to make Pimentón which gives it different levels of smoky flavor. You can also distinguish these peppers based on the drying process and level of heat.
Spanish paprika comes in four different flavors, namely:
- Pimentón dulce means “sweet paprika.” It is made with the mildest peppers. Both of the drying processes are implemented to make it.
- Pimentón agridulce is bittersweet paprika. It is a bit spicier than dulce but not as spicy as other hot peppers.
- Pimentón Picante is a hot Pimentón, and it is made with hot dried peppers.
- Pimentón de la Vera comes from the La Vera/ Extremadura region of Spain. It has a very intense, smoky flavor.
The following are some of the many recipes that use Pimentón for flavor enhancement:
- Ensalada Tropical
- Sopa de Ajo
- Lamb Casseroles
- Deviled Eggs with Tuna
Pimentón is also used in Brazilian cooking.
2. Laurel (Bay Leaf)
Laurel belongs to the family of evergreen shrubs, Lauraceae, which are native to the Mediterranean region.
Today, people cultivate bay leaves in other parts of the world as well. Laurel has various medicinal properties. It helps:
- Reduces flatulence
- Eases digestion
- Helps with dental and urinary tract infections
- It helps soothe a sore throat
Laurel has a unique flavor that is a mixture of bitter and slightly spicy characteristics. People do not entirely cook it with food but rather slow-cook it into dishes to extract the taste and essence. You can remove the leaves from the dish later on. It goes best with soups, stews, meat, fish, rice, casseroles, etc.
In ancient Greece, people used to believe that laurels were a sign of triumph. To date, people associate it with victory.
Due to its medicinal purposes, cinnamon has been a highly sought-after spice.
In medieval times, people used cinnamon to treat sore throats, arthritis, and coughs. It has proven effective in eliminating free radicals and invading microbes.
Today, it is a common spice in every household. Although cinnamon is not commonly used as a spice in Spanish cuisine, it is essential for most desserts.
Canela (in Spanish) is used in sweets like Natillas, Arroz con Leche, Torrijas, and everyone’s favorite, Churros. Moreover, cinnamon is available in various forms on the market, such as whole or pieces of bark, powder, and oil.
Dishes like cinnamon pumpkin pancakes, cinnamon pear pancakes, roasted cinnamon lemon chicken, spicy broccoli soup, cinnamon carrot cookies, and maple cinnamon cheesecake are some of the examples of dishes that prove cinnamon is the best spice in your rack.
Saffron comes from a delicate flower that blooms in autumn. Saffron is the crimson stigmas of the crocus flower.
People hand-pick them carefully and then toast these stigmas to dry them properly. People then preserve this saffron for future use.
The amusing fact about saffron is that it takes over 150 crocus flowers to produce just a gram of saffron. This makes it one of the most precious spices in the world, but the good thing about saffron is that a little bit of it goes a long way. So, the little amount you get is well worth the money you pay.
It adds a characteristic color and aroma to the dishes. It is most commonly used in Paella and other rice dishes. People also add saffron to soups and broths because it releases its color in a liquid state.
Some of the dishes that make use of saffron are:
- Pulled Oats Paella
- Saffron Rice Pilaf with Chicken
- Moroccan Chicken Tagine
- Butter Beans and Clams in Saffron
- Baked Saffron and Chorizo Risotto
Why is Saffron Expensive?
“Since such a small part of the flower is used, it takes 75,000 saffron flowers to make one pound of saffron spice. The small amount of saffron spice per plant, along with the fact that harvesting must be done manually, leads to saffron’s being majorly expensive.” (source)
5. Nora Peppers
Nora peppers have a unique taste and are the star ingredient in Spanish cuisine.
They have a bit of a sweet flavor, which complements the intense aroma. Nora peppers are small, round red peppers that fall into the category of “ball variety.” Normally, people dry Nora pepper in the sun and grind it into a fine powder before adding it to the dishes.
When it comes to dishes, you can be as creative with Nora peppers as you can be. Most people grind Nora peppers into a fine powder, mix them with garlic, and add them to the vegetable sauce called Sofrito.
Another prominent use of Nora pepper is the production of paprika powder, which adds scrumptiousness to various dishes like paella, rice, sausages such as chorizos, and patatas bravas, a mouth-watering dish made with potatoes.
Many dishes also have fried Nora peppers as a side dish. Mix a little powdered Nora pepper with mayonnaise, and you’ve got yourself the simplest, tastiest dip for all your fried food cravings.
The word rosemary in latin translates to “dew of the sea.” This herb grows closer to the coasts, which is the reason for its beautiful name.
This shrub grows throughout the Mediterranean basin, and most people still use it as a medicinal plant.
Traditionally, people consumed rosemary to enhance and optimize the functioning of their immune and circulatory systems. Rosemary is also a great help when it comes to muscle pain. In addition, people around the globe use it as a stress-reliever and add it to their relaxing baths. Rosemary is also a source of vitamin B6, calcium, and iron.
In the world of food, rosemary goes best with baked dishes like lamb, chicken, and potatoes. It also enhances the taste of casseroles and stews tenfold and gives a distinct flavor to cheeses and oils.
In addition, putting some rosemary leaves on the paella and letting them rest allows the flavor to infuse completely into the rice. This enhances the taste and gives the paella a tempting aroma that makes your taste buds dance with joy.
When it comes to herbs, oregano is the most popular one in Spain. You can add it to almost any dish.
Oregano has a characteristic taste and smell that can get you hooked in seconds.
Oregano is fortified with essential vitamins like Vitamin A, C, and K. It is also a dietary fiber rich in minerals like manganese, calcium, and iron. Moreover, oregano leaves have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help fight diseases. The herb is also an antioxidant and wards off free radicals.
Oregano mixed with olive oil makes a very common condiment. People around the globe enjoy it with different kinds of snacks. It is also used to make marinades and vinaigrettes that go perfectly with beef, chicken, and lamb.
Oregano leaves contain flavorful essential oils in them, whether in their fresh or dried form. Therefore, food connoisseurs suggest that you crush oregano leaves slightly with your hands before adding them to the dishes. This ensures an infusion of maximum flavor into the dish.
Some of the dishes that taste best with a hint of oregano include mussels, oregano pesto, chimichurri sauce, tomato paste with oregano, green pozole, and Italian vinaigrette.
Final Thoughts on Herbs and Spices of Spain
It is no wonder that spices take your food up a notch. But if they come with numerous health benefits, it’s a cherry on top. So, if you are looking for spices that also positively impact your health, this article is the answer to all your questions.
People all around the world enjoy the Spanish spices and herbs mentioned in the list. Most of these spices are a part of people’s everyday cooking because they give your food an instant upgrade.
So, if you think your dishes are missing the magic factor, you need to check out this article. We hope this piece of the article gives you that special spice or herb you have wanted for so long.