Wednesday, November 3, 2010

re: spice organising, plus Pesto Pasta with Squash, Spinach & Sweet Peppers

in response to In the Mood for Noodles' post (thanks K) about spice organisation, i thought i'd share my filing system. i've never given it any thought really, nor have i asked friends for their ideas, but i think it rather an interesting topic & perhaps i will inquire. i do tend to lean towards mania for organisation. my brain being so chaotic, that it is essential my physical environment be composed.

i don't know if anyone has choosen to do this, but i loosely group the 47 bottles of herbs & spices by cuisine & usage. i find this an extremely easy way to quickly grab what i need. for example, i have all Indian spices (cumin, coriander, turmeric, curry, garam masala et al.) & Middle Eastern (za'atar, sumac...) on one side of the drawer, while the pepper spices (paprika, cayenne, Korean chili pepper...) opposite. at home, i have 4 drawers, but here i have 2 big ones, so there's also two rows of French & Italian spices (parsley, basil, oregano... plus the garlic powder for when i'm in a hurry). in a separate drawer, there's the baking spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice...). i keep the salt, pepper & sesame salt on the counter for easy access. white & black sesame seeds & nutritional yeast are kept on the shelf with the oils & vinegars.

the spices are usually bought in small quantities (or i share with friends) & kept in spice jars in a couple of drawers. i tend not to label them as i know them by sight or smell, well except for a few, mostly the blends, for which i use found recipes. my labels are not fancy, masking tape with a sharpie pen (it won't bleed or smudge once dry, great labels for the freezer too.)

Can you guess the black spice in the centre? it's a new find for me. (*hint, it's not mustard seed)

i like the drawer system, deep drawers would allow for bigger bottles, such as tarragon vinegar. or a garlic pot. but when i build my house someday *fingers crossed*, i want a special built in cupboard in the wall that is only as deep as a spice bottle. i have some ideas on the cupboard door too, but i guess i shouldn't dream in such detail.

i like to keep my teas in a similar pattern, divided into caffeine & herbal, then subdivided. well, that's my 2¢. anyone else file in a similar fashion?

Pesto Pasta with Squash, Spinach & Sweet Peppers

as with many meals cooked at home, this was inspired from restaurant fare in Korea.

1 clove garlic - minced
1 large spanish onion, roughly chopped
¼ cup veg stock, or water
1 butternut squash, peeled, cut into ¼" slices
1 sweet red pepper, thinly sliced strips
a handful baby spinach, thinly sliced strips
3 Tbsp pesto, to taste
1 cup pasta shells

garnish with fresh italian parsley, roughly chopped, with cherry tomatoes, halved

Sauté garlic with onion 'til golden. Add veg stock & squash, cover 'til medium softness on low heat. Throw on the red pepper, cover & turn off. Meanwhile prepare pasta el dente. When pasta is drained, gently heat the covered veggies, without stirring, with the spinach thrown on top. As spinach begins to wilt, gently toss in the pesto & then shells. To serve, top with fresh parsley & cherry tomatoes. Good with crusty bread.



Miss C. Bean said...

i sort my spices by regional taste too! it makes it so easy i find. i keep 24 on hand, on the wall by my stove, and the ones i use less often i keep in a cupboard. and that pasta recipe looks great, i'll have to try it sooner than later

dN said...

thanks, it's funny how i've not thought to ask this before. if you try it, let me know how it works. i'm unsure how great my directions are, i'm always forgetting to say something.

K said...

Looks like you also have a large number of spices, I love the idea of grouping by cuisine!