I love to buy whole spices when they are available and toast and grind them myself. There’s nothing quite so wonderful as toasting a cinnamon stick, snapping it into pieces and whizzing it up in my coffee grinder and inhaling a super potent, fresh and spicy cinnamon cloud. A while back I started making my own blends of herbs and spices (see my KFC chicken, Mixed Spice, Pumpkin Pie Spice and Curry Paste for more evidence) and I really love it. It’s chance to personalise spice blends to your own taste as well as getting lots more flavour than from a dried up little supermarket sachet or jar. My Italian Seasoning is the latest experiment and I’ve got loads of recipes coming up for you to use it in, so Pin this post and get a big batch ground up today!
When I think of Italian food, the flavours which come to mind are oregano, basil, fennel, red chilli and rosemary. Imagine a pizza without a sprinkling of oregano, pesto without basil (sacrilege!), pasta alla aglio, olio e peperoncini wwithout flecks of red chilli or my version with extra prawns. Italian sausages and porchetta would not be the same without fennel and my favourite focaccia of all time is rosemary and sea salt sprinkled. You’ll find all of these bar the basil which it best left to be used fresh, plus a few other magic ingredients in my Italian Seasoning. I’ve used long pepper which are the long catkin shaped spices in the photograph which have an extra special spiciness to them but you can use black peppercorns instead. The addition of just a little cumin and coriander gives grounding to the flavour profile, a little earthiness against the dried but fragrant herbs. All in all, this spice blend has become one of my spice drawer essentials and I’m quite sure you’ll love it too. Watch this space for recipes on how you can use it but for now, why not try rubbing a chicken with it before roasting? Let me know how you use it.
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 4 whole dried red chillies
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 3 dried bay leaves
- Lightly toast the fennel seeds, peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and red chillies in a pan over medium heat for a minute or two until fragrant.
- Tip into a bowl and allow to cool.
- Mix in the remaining herbs and bay leaves then pulse in a coffee grinder (or the nut and seed mill of a Bamix) until finely processed. You will need to do this in batches.
- When done, whisk well and sift to ensure all the spices are well mixed and store in a small jar spice jar or tupperware pot.