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European Spices & Seasonings

Apple & Brie Galette

The spices of Europe are as varied as its cuisines and countries. French spices have a certain je ne sais quois. Northern European spices brighten long, cold nights. Saffron is essential for the perfect paella or risotto. Mediterranean herbs give Greek cuisine a bit of Opa! Dive in to these distinctive World Flavors.

What spices were native to Europe?

While it’s true that the tropics are a much more hospitable environment for growing most of the world’s spices, there are some plants that thrive in the harsher climate of Europe. And these native spices are integral to flavoring a variety of European dishes.

Lavender – A key ingredient in Herbes de Provence, lavender buds certainly have a distinctive flavor. While some people will insist that lavender tastes like soap (and hey, we get it because we do love a good French lavender scent), we beg to differ. Lavender, like many herbs (oregano and thyme, just to name a few), grows wild and thrives in dry, sandy soil and temperate climates. It’s herbal, floral flavor stands up to gamey meat but also shines in dessert (or lemonade!)

Juniper Berries – Unique as a spice derived from coniferous trees, these aren’t actually berries but rather named so for their berry-like appearance. Widely used throughout Central and Northern European cuisines, these berries have been used as flavoring for centuries. Romans used them as a substitute for the rarer black pepper. Their peppery, piney flavor is an ideal complement to game, wild bird, and pork (sauerbraten anyone?) and is also often used as a seasoning for cabbage dishes. And yes, in case you’re wondering, they are also a key flavoring component to the distinctive piney notes of gin.

Saffron –Saffron is the stigma of a Crocus sativus flower which blooms for only three weeks every fall. Each bulb produces approximately two to nine flowers which contain three long, red-orange stigmas. Spanish Coupe Saffron is used in dishes like paella to add both color and flavor. Saffron is also one of the most expensive spices in the world. Fortunately, most dishes require only 2-3 threads per serving. We have a whole article devoted to saffron if you want to learn more.

Close up on a silver spoon with saffron threads

Are There Any Spices In Europe?

Yes! In case you’re not convinced by lavender, juniper berries, and saffron, there’s a world of European seasoning. We’re only going to touch on French spices, Spain’s spices, and Greek seasonings (sorry Italy, Germany, Sweden…) and we’re not even going to begin to explore the history of spices in Europe.

Bohemian Forest - An amalgamation of European flavor influences, there's the delicate floral notes of lavender offset by pungent mustard seeds. This seasoning was inspired by the mustard based blends of Eastern and Central Europe and is ideal for hearty dishes.

French Spices & Seasonings

Herbs DuxellesDuxelle is a classic French combination of a chopped mushroom medley and shallots sautéed in butter until soft and dry. We’ve taken this idea, added herbs, and transformed it into a salt-free, ready-to-use seasoning. The ideal use for this delicate blend is in omelets and soups or dusted on fish and vegetables.

VadouvanOur take on this French rendition of a classic Indian masala, known as Vadouvan, can be used in place of any curry. It brings a signature roasted flavor thanks to the process of toasting many of the spices before they are blended with the final ingredients.

Spanish & Portuguese Seasonings

Southern Spain Pinchito Spice - Pinchito is Spanish for kebab or shish kebab. Brought to Europe in 711 a.d. by North African Arabs, pinchitos are now served in Spain as tapas, although more commonly made with pork rather than lamb. Our Southern Spain Pinchito Spice is great for flavoring meats, soups and vegetables; try using as a sprinkle, rub or marinade.

Piri-Piri Seasoning - Piri Piri (or peri-peri) really comes from Africa. But after Portuguese colonizers brought it back home, this spicy condiment quickly became a Portuguese favorite. It means "pepper pepper," an apt name for a hot seasoning with a fantastic flavor! 

Greek Spices & Seasonings

Limnos Lamb Rub - This is our rendition of a lamb rub spice blend used in Greece and throughout the Mediterranean for roasting lamb and poultry. This salted rub is aromatic, citrusy, licoricey, and herby with peppery notes. Though this was crafted for lamb, this blend stands up wonderfully to strong-flavored or gamey meats like venison and duck.

Mt. Olympus Greek Style Seasoning - Greece's highest mountain is Mount Olympus. We take classic Greek ingredients and combine them perfectly to bring you one of our most popular picks. This spice blend smells and tastes like a Greek chicken dish in a bottle! It's a versatile and easy-to-use Greek seasoning, and great for people on the go who won't compromise great flavor for lack of time.

Bowl of tzatziki with lemon slice garnish and green pea falafel and red onion

European-Inspired Recipes

Apple & Brie Galette (pictured at top) - This might not be a classically French or Central European recipe but it's a delightful combination of aromatic spices, sweet apples, tangy brie, and flaky pastry. It's a labor of love but the flavors are sure to impress!

Slow Cooker Roast Chicken - A traditional roast is a key part of continental cuisine. We've simplified it into a slow cooker recipe so you can have this comfort food classic any day of the week.

Vadouvan Curry-Dusted Scallops with Apple BrothA warm and comfy fall twist on classic grilled scallops, this dish encourages coziness with a warm-spiced apple broth. But feel free to make the Vadouvan dusted scallops on their own any time of the year (maybe serve over a bed of baby greens in the spring...)

Grilled Pinchitos with Yogurt Lime Dipping Sauce - Enjoy tapas at home. As an appetizer, serve on smaller skewers with sauce on the side for dipping. As a meal, serve over a bed of rice and drizzle with sauce. 

Molho de Piri-Piri - Mix 3 Tbsp. spice with 1 cup olive oil and shake vigorously. Store in refrigerator for 7-10 days to allow the flavors to blend. Use as a hot condiment on pork, chicken, fish or beef.

Mt. Olympus Spiced Tzatziki SauceThis sauce has a strong garlic flavor that is perfect for pairing with Greek or Middle Eastern dishes. Serve chilled on gyros or our Sweet Green Pea Falafel. Use as a dressing for our Grilled Greek Salad with Dill Quinoa.

Italian RecipesWe didn't touch on Italian spices and seasonings but we have plenty of tasty family-friendly Italian inspired recipes for you to chow down on. Cacio e Pepe and Tiramisu Cannoli? Yes, per favore!

Tiramisu cannoli with jar of cinnamon

Browse all World Flavors or tell us about your favorite German, Scandinavian, Irish, or other European flavors & recipes below.

 

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