With the right seasoning, you can elevate any dish from bland to bursting with flavor. Here’s some creative, often overlooked options when you’re getting a bit tired of the go-to classics. A small container of each will last you ages, and adding a pinch to basic meals is a cheap and easy way to eat like a gourmet on a college student schedule and budget.
#SpoonTip: While I have included links to order these online (when applicable), I would definitely check out your local farmer’s market or nearby CSA to see if you can buy them closer to home.
1. Truffle Salt
No, we’re not talking about chocolate. A truffle is a type of mushroom that adds an almost buttery, earthy flavor to a dish. Though it’s a little pricey, a small jar of truffle salt is well worth the investment. Sprinkle it on eggs, avocado toast, popcorn, pasta, or almost any sandwich (especially a caprese panini).
Ground ginger is so versatile that it works just as well accentuating the flavor in savory sauces and dressings as it does taking center stage in decadent desserts. What’s more, studies have found that ginger has numerous health benefits (alleviating digestive discomfort, general pain, and inflammation) and it contains many key vitamins and minerals. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even intensify the flavor with fresh ginger in your cooking.
This is a contentious one: people tend to have strong feelings about this herb because many think that cilantro tastes soapy. There’s even a cilantro haters club for the most contentious opposers. But hey, if you’re not of this contingent, cilantro is an essential ingredient for all sorts of dips: classic guacamole, pesto, cilantro-garlic yogurt sauce, and traditional salsa, to name a few.
#SpoonTip: This herb is better fresh than dried, so it’s not quite as conducive to dorm life. But with so many recipes, if you buy a bunch, you can easily find a way to use it up.
Like ginger, rosemary can be used in all types of foods. The herb has a distinctive piney aroma and fresh flavor, which make it a versatile choice for anything from roasted chicken and homemade hummus to bacon-wrapped dates and shortbread cookies. The best part? Because rosemary is an evergreen, it can be found fresh year-round.
5. Sesame Seeds
Tossing on some sesame seeds adds a unique, mildly nutty flavor to simple dishes like peanut noodles or a veggie stir-fry, but it can also take on a bigger role in desserts like these Greek candies. As the key ingredient in tahini and many Asian dishes, sesame seeds are featured in cuisines worldwide.