Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Spices and Seasonal Vegetables

If you're like my household, by this time of the winter you're getting a teensy bit tired of the standard fall and winter produce favorites. There are only so many ways to cook a potato or turnip before you start having weird dreams about them. I love all of the current seasonal hits more than most people but even I need to spice things up by this time in January, pun definitely intended.

Spices, spices, spices. Salt and pepper can get you a long way but what about chili powder, cardamon, and ginger? How often do you reach for cinnamon when you're making carrots? Not very often, I bet, but these spices and so many others can really liven up your midwinter meals. 

A great store that just came to Charlotte is the Savory Spice Shop. The Savory began as a mom and pop store in Denver, CO, but has been franchised in a handful of cities across the U.S. A group of friends recently opened their own franchise in the Atherton complex just across the parking lot from the market. They have everything from sugars, cinnamons and other sweet flavors to pretty much any savory spice you can think of. As an added bonus, all spices are sold by the ounce so you can chose how much you want.
My current favorite way to use one of their products is for sweet potatoes and butternut squash, both of which you can buy all over North Carolina right now. The Lomax Farm, Coldwater Creek and several vendors at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market are selling sweet potatoes and the butternut squash I got from Houston Farms. Add some olive oil from Ohh-lio Express and either the Bohemian Forest Rub or the Tandoori spice from the Savory Spice Shop and you've got a vegetable side dish worthy of an entree!

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potatoes (V)
1 butternut squash
1-2 sweet potatoes
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Spice of your choice
1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Cut potato and squash into 1 inch pieces and place in a 9x13 pan
  2. Drizzle olive oil on top 
  3. Sprinkle your favorite spice and salt
  4. Heat at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until potato and squash are at your desired tenderness
Note: Salt can really bring out the flavor of spices that otherwise might fall a little flat so add just a dash, especially for international flavor profiles.

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