Extravagant, you say, since
they do not spoil and can be costly? True, dried basil and other
herbs, and ground spices like paprika, do not spoil in the conventional
sense. But exposure to light and air, especially in the kitchens
heat, makes their pigments and the essential oils that contribute
much of their flavor evaporate or change over time. (The strength
of their health-protective phytochemicals could also be weakened.)
Paprika loses one percent of its color every 10 days at 70 degrees,
according to the American Spice Trade Association. Thats
why I keep it in the fridge, where it stays bright red and pungent
for at least six months.
Six months is the recommended
time for renewing your stock of dried herbs and ground spices.
(Whole spices like nutmeg, peppercorns, star anise and stick
cinnamon can last for years.) Doing this will help your pasta
sauce taste more like the one you ate in Rome, and your cinnamon
cookies taste like grandmas did.
Today, many spices and herbs
are being sold in smaller amounts, so that replacing them cost
less. To prove this is worth doing, make this herb-seasoned chicken,
using half of the seasonings with what you have now, and the
other half with fresh replacements. The proof, as they say, is
in the eating.
Herb-Roasted Chicken Breast
- Makes 4 servings.
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. ground sage
1/8 tsp. ground fennel (optional)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 split whole skinless chicken breast with ribs, about 1 1/2
lbs, cut into 4 pieces
Olive or canola oil cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine the
garlic, lemon zest, oregano, thyme, sage, fennel (if using),
cayenne, salt and black pepper. Whisk in the oil and lemon juice.
Rub the mixture over the chicken pieces, coating the pieces well.
Place the chicken on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and set
aside for 15 minutes.
Arrange the chicken in a shallow
baking dish just large enough to hold the 4 pieces. Bake for
15 minutes. Lightly coat the chicken with cooking spray, and
bake 15 minutes more. Spray the chicken again. Bake until the
juices run clear and the meat looks white when the breast is
pierced with a knife in the center at its thickest point, about
10 minutes more. Let sit 10 minutes for the juices to settle
before serving. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Per serving: 188 calories, 5
g. total fat (1 g. saturated fat), 1 g. carbohydrate, 31 g. protein,
0 g. dietary fiber, 379 mg. sodium.