Raw Spice Bar: a Taste Bud Tour that Begins at Your Front Door!

Listen. We can’t all be certifiably gourmet foodies¬†with access to the world’s most epicurean ingredients — plus, that¬†extra dash of¬†pretension on the side.

Or, can we…?

Turns out, if you’ve got an oven and a whopping $6 to spare, those fancy-schmancy “Food Network” professionals have nothing on you! ¬†Even if your kitchen is a battleground of failed culinary attempts, who’s keeping score?

RawSpiceBar¬†sure isn’t. This small-batch subscription service takes the guesswork out of creating memorable dishes, thanks to an uber affordable (hello…6 bucks!) monthly delivery of unique spice blends sourced from across the globe. These freshly ground seasonings are also paired with chef-inspired recipes, authentic to each spice’s native region.

For instance, the theme for September is “Istanbul Spice Box,” so all featured flavors hail from the vibrant Turkish marketplace. This month, RawSpiceBar treated my taste buds to a¬†distinctive East-meets-West sampling of exotic, earthy spices with that perfect punch of heat.

Inside these individually portioned packets, I found Za’atar, Baharat and Urfa Pepper — none of which I’d ever heard of (much less, used in cooking). These spice blends combine rustic¬†Middle Eastern textures with a savory Mediterranean bite…and all three won me over!

Raw Spice Bar zaatar

“Originating as far back as the 13th century, ZA’ATAR is a Turkish cook‚Äôs closely guarded secret, bringing zest to every dish it touches. Thyme and sesame seeds provide a nutty flavor, balanced by floral herbs and acidic sumac. Stir into olive oil and serve on bread, dust on eggs and oatmeal, or use as dry rub on chicken and vegetables.”

Raw Spice Bar baharat

“BAHARAT is a spice staple in Turkish cooking — the name itself means ‘spices’ in Arabic. Used in everything from seafood to soup, this blend brings together coriander, cumin and black peppercorn with warm spices like cinnamon, allspice and cloves, rounded out by sweet paprika.”

Raw Spice Bar urfa pepper

“Often described as raisins meets coffee, this dried Turkish¬†chili¬†is smoky, almost sweet, and¬†imparts a deep, red-maroon tinge to everything it touches. URFA¬†chilis pair well with braised meats, eggplants or red peppers, and give great depth to spreads with dairy or hummus.”

So, that’s the lowdown on our culinary headliners. Now, here comes the all-important taste test. Earlier this afternoon, I experimented with a mishmash of flavor profiles from both Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, added a few dashes of those honorary star spices, and — voila! ¬†lunch was served.

I call my creation…drumroll, please…

Veggie Quinoa Bowl & Avocado Crema:

Ingredients:

1 clove Garlic

1/4 cup Quinoa

1/4 tsp. Za’atar

1/2 tsp. Baharat

1/4 tsp. Urfa Pepper

1/2 cup Onions (sliced)

1/2 cup Tomatoes (chopped)

For the Crema:

1 tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

1/3 cup Green Yogurt (plain)

1/2 Avocado (mashed)

1 Mint Sprig (for garnish)

Raw Spice Bar quinoa bowl ingredients

Preparation:

  1. Pre-heat a pot on a medium-high stovetop setting and cook the Quinoa according to package directions.
  2. Once the¬†Quinoa starts to soften, stir in¬†the Garlic, Urfa Pepper, Za’atar and Baharat, then allow the Quinoa to finish simmering.
  3. Combine the Avocado, Greek Yogurt and Olive Oil until smooth.
  4. When the Quinoa is fork-tender, transfer to a bowl and top with the Onion and Tomato.
  5. Spread the Crema over the other ingredients and garnish with Mint.

Raw Spice Bar quinoa bowl

I also recommend trying out RawSpiceBar’s own recipe corner — whether you’re a carnivore, vegetarian or vegan, these tantalizing dishes won’t disappoint! Here’s a sneak peek to whet your appetite:

Looks delicious. Or, as they say in Turkey…looks¬†lezzetli. Who says eating can’t make you multicultural?!

Good thing I’m always hungry.

Deliciousness Happens When Superfoods Unite!

Yeppers, kale and quinoa come together for the win in my latest kitchen creation, packed with essentials like protein, whole grains, calcium and Vitamins A & C.

Tons of nutrients, exotic Mediterranean flavors, and a simple¬†cooking process make this recipe an instant hit. So, you know, go ahead and sneak it into your “Speedy Weeknight Dinner” rotation (shhhh…the kids won’t even know they’re eating kale!). You’re welcome.

Quick note for any vegans or vegetarians: this recipe includes scallops, which you’ll obviously need to omit when recreating in your own kitchen.

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Kale & Quinoa Superfood Salad — yields 4 servings

scallop kale salad ingredients

Ingredients:

3 cups Kale (chopped)

1 cup Scallops

1 cup Quinoa

1/4 cup Feta (crumbled)*

1/4 cup Dates (chopped)

1 clove Garlic (diced)

1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 tsp. Coriander (ground)

Sea Salt (to taste)

*Looking for a dairy-free feta substitute? I’d recommend trying out this vegan recipe from The Happy Herbivore!¬†

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 Preparation:

 1. Fill a large pot with Quinoa and 2 cups Water, then pre-heat on a high stovetop setting and bring to a boil.

 2. Reduce the heat to low, then cover the pot and let simmer for approx. 15 minutes or until the moisture has mostly been absorbed.

 3. While the Quinoa is cooking, prep the Kale, Dates, Garlic and Feta (or dairy-free substitute), then set aside temporarily.

 4. Coat a small saucepan with Cooking Spray and pre-heat on a medium stovetop setting, then add the Scallops.

 5. Saute the Scallops for approx. 2-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they have cooked thoroughly.

 6. Remove the Quinoa from heat and stir in the Coriander, Garlic and Olive Oil, then combine this Quinoa mixture with the Scallops.

 7. Arrange the Kale on a serving plate, then spoon the Quinoa and Scallops mixture over the Kale.

 8. Sprinkle the Dates and Feta (or dairy-free substitute) on top, then add the desired amount of Sea Salt.

9. Allow this Salad to cool slightly (approx. 1-2 minutes) before serving. 

scallop kale salad