I Bought This Cumin & Paprika. Now What?

I am in the process of moving, and you know what I’ve discovered? That my kitchen pantry has basically become a spice graveyard — I’ve even had to blow dust off some of them. While packing away some spices, I saw that their seals were still unbroken, meaning I haven’t even used them once. I don’t want to throw them away, but I am not kitchen confident enough to experiment with them. Also, to be totally honest, I don’t really understand spices, apart from the fact that they add spice. For example, what is the purpose of a bay leaf? I’ve never tasted something and thought, It’s good, but it could use a bay leaf.

After a few conversations around the office and with friends, it seems that many people have this same problem. So, I figured that there was an opportunity for a regular column called, "I Bought This. Now What?" This series will focus on a specific spice and provide easy recipe ideas for them. This month we’re focusing on two spices: cumin and paprika.

We turned to one of our fave recipe developers, Amy Sherman, and asked her for some quick ideas for ways to incorporate them into a meal. She came back with an easy, delicious-sounding stew, and a homemade guacamole with some serious kick.
Photo: Brett Stevens/Getty Images.
Smoked Sausage & Chickpea Stew
Serves 4 

Recipe Note: Use as much paprika as you like, but start with just a teaspoon if you are using smoked or hot paprika, both of which pack more of a punch than regular or sweet paprika.  


1/2 onion, peeled and diced
8 oz fully cooked smoked sausage, cut into coins (such as kielbasa or linguisa)
15-oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1-2 tsp paprika (regular, smoked, sweet, or hot)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 cups packed fresh spinach leaves

1. Heat a saucepan or casserole over medium high heat. Add the onion and sausage and cook, stirring until onions are soft and sausage begins to brown.  

2. Add the tomatoes to the sausage and onions, and scrape up any brown bits stuck to the pan using a wooden spoon.  

3. Add the paprika, salt, and chickpeas. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, mashing some of the chickpeas against the side of the pot.  

4. Tear the spinach leaves before adding them to the stew. Cook for another minute, just until the spinach wilts. Serve.  

Photographed by Erin Phraner.
Cumin & Lime Guacamole
Serves 6   

4 ripe avocados
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cumin
2 minced green onions, about 1/4 cup
Hot sauce, to taste (optional) 
1. Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits, and scoop out the flesh using a spoon.  

2. Roughly mash and chop the avocados in a mixing bowl using a fork and knife. (You want the avocados to be chunky, not completely smooth.) 

3. Stir in the lime juice, salt, cumin, and green onions. Taste for seasoning, and add hot sauce as desired.

4. Serve with tortilla chips or carrot and celery sticks.

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