Spice of the Month: Cumin

Spice of the Month: Cumin

Our November Spice of the Month is cumin. In the USA you will most commonly find it ground into a powder, though the whole seeds can also be found. While cumin is related to parsley, the flavor is very different; warm, earthy, spicy (but not hot), and extremely aromatic. It is often a significant flavor in Mexican and Indian dishes and is most commonly found in savory preparations. Cumin pairs well with alliums like garlic and onions, and is excellent in saucy dishes like soups, stews, gravies, and curries. If you are interested in following along with this series and trying samples of the featured spices, contact our partner, the Veteran’s Memorial Library.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

  • 3 cups sweet potatoes
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 Tbsp olive or grapeseed oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder (optional)

Set the oven to preheat to 375F. Peel and cube the raw sweet potatoes. Dice the yellow onion and finely chop the garlic. Toss all ingredients in a bowl until well coated with oil and spices. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet or cake pan and bake 30-45 minutes until fork tender. (Cooking time will vary based on the variety of sweet potatoes and the size of the cubes.) For very soft sweet potatoes, bake covered for the entire time. For more caramelized potatoes, bake covered for 15 minutes and then uncovered until desired softness is reached. These potatoes can be served as is for a side dish, or with rice or couscous as an entree. Serves 2-4.

Chunky Tomato Bean Soup

  • 1 15oz can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15oz can beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup crushed tortilla chips
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • shredded cheese (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Cook until beans are heated through and tortilla chips are softened, about 10 minutes. Top with shredded cheese before serving if desired. For a smooth and creamy soup puree with an immersion blender before serving. Serves 4.

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