Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Crushed Red Pepper Flakes: Seasoning of the Gods?

This ingredient has been showing up in so many recipes I've been perusing lately, like this one, this one (which I made), and this one.

It's to the point where I laugh whenever I come across it listed in the ingredients. 

Here's the scoop on crushed red pepper flakes, courtesy of my friends at Wikipedia:
  1. Think dried and crushed red chili peppers, not ground.
  2. It's used in a variety of cuisine, including Italian and Turkish foods.
  3. Red pepper shakers have become staples in Italian-style restaurants (I guess I knew this; I just wasn't paying attention).
It gives food a kick.

I like kicky.


But I have a suggestion.

Walmart, which is where I picked up my handy-dandy rotating spice rack, should add in the crushed red pepper flakes and take out one of the stupid things tucked in there, like these two jackasses: 

Everything else on the rack makes sense and includes your spice "basics," if you will, like rosemary, basil, oregano, etc. Even I, an Idiot Cook, can appreciate all of the basic spices, even if I've yet to use them. I get that they're part of a well-stocked pantry.

But crushed mint? Really? 

I love minty things. But even if I were a Smarty Pants Chef and cooked a lot, I can't imagine I'd have a ton of Regular Rotation recipes that called for crushed mint. 

In fact, I googled "crushed mint recipes." One of the first items that came up was "10 Best Crushed Mint Recipes" from Yummly. But guess what? When you drill down into the actual recipes, almost all of them call for FRESH mint. Which even I know is fairly easy to get at the market.

And, like basil, it seems like fresh mint is the preferred ingredient.

Now, let's talk about "Herbes de Provence." Walmart managers, you've seen your customers, right? (And yesI'm including myself SQUARELY in that demographic, so don't get all pissy.)

For the record, again from Wiki, Herbes de Provence combines many of the herbs "typical of the Provence region of southeast France." Think savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. Most of which come standard (although as standalones) on spice racks. 

Listen. I get that Herbes de Provence probably is a great go-to, all-in-one spice to have. I question how many Regular Cooks and Idiot Cooks would know what to do with it (and even Smarty Pants Chefs seem to struggle with this). 

In all of my recipe viewing over the last few years, I can't recall coming across it on the ingredient lists (but crushed red pepper flakes? EVERYWHERE!). That said, HuffPo has a good article on how to use this spice and a bunch of recipes, including this one, which I might actually try.

BTW, the spice rack wasn't a Walmart spice rack, I don't think. I'm looking at it now, and I can't tell who manufactured it, but my point is whoever did should think of the audience. Crushed red pepper flakes would likely get much more use (and, thus, possible re-orders) rather than crushed mint or the Herbes de Provence.

(Even Blogger takes issue with the latter. It wants me to correct the spelling of "Herbes.")

Questions for you:
  • Got any recipes using DRIED, crushed mint? Please share.
  • Got any recipes using Herbes de Provence? Please share.
  • What's the weirdest thing in your spice rack? Definitely share. (I think it's all part of the conspiracy against Idiot Cooks! Read here and here for reference.)


  1. A non-slacking gourmet wouldn't buy McCormick herbes de provence when it can be easily made from items handily in the nearby pantry...

    3 tablespoons oregano leaves
    3 tablespoons thyme leaves
    1 teaspoon basil leaves
    1 teaspoon sage leaf
    3 tablespoons savory
    2 tablespoons lavender flowers
    1 teaspoon rosemary

    1. I'm impressed! But! Lavender flowers? Really? You'd have this handy in your crib? Not that it matters for ME, since I have the fancy schmancy Herbes de Provence, courtesy of Walmart. ;)


Comments welcome. But let's all play (somewhat) nice in the virtual sandbox, shall we?