The Herb of the Month for February 2024 is Paprika
Capsicum annuum (select cultivars)
Peppers are native to Mexico and were brought to Spain in the 16th century. From there they traveled across Europe and were especially valued for their flavor in Spain, Hungary, and the Balkans. The selection of peppers, the soil, and the climate influence the flavor of Paprika.
Paprika is made by grinding a selection of ripe, air dried, less pungent varieties of Capsicum annum.
The finished product may include a mix of the Hungarian tomato pepper and a variety of spicy chili peppers. The desired Scoville Scale will depend on the balance of this mixture. The Hungarian tomato peppers have slightly thicker skins and are sweeter. Hungary, which produces some of the best Paprika in the world, has 8 classes of Paprika. Those 8 classes represent a complexity of flavors. Additionally, drying the peppers over a wood fire will give the finished product a desirable culinary smokey flavor. It is the cooking process itself that releases the flavor into the dish.
This herb is also useful as a natural coloring agent and flavor enhancer for meats, sausages and various processed foods. Check out the ingredient list on your favorite snack food such as potato chips. Paprika has also been used to dye fabric.
Paprika with its capsaicin compound has a wide range of health benefits. It has a higher content of vitamin C than citrus fruits, a high content of Lutein, and is also rich in carotenoids. Its antioxidant properties can help in reducing cancer risks and heart disease. It’s anti-inflammatory properties may reduce joint pain and help with digestion. Other benefits include supporting eye health and boosting immunity.
Roasted Potatoes and Carrots with Paprika
- 2 cups Potatoes
- 1 cup Carrots
- 2 teaspoons Hungarian Paprika
- Garlic salt to taste
- Your favorite herb such as rosemary or thyme
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees or dial ‘roast’.
- Cut potatoes into about 1-2” chunks.
- Add a few carrot slices that are somewhat smaller because they take longer to cook.
- Lightly drizzle the vegetables with olive oil or avocado oil.
- Season with salt, pepper, Hungarian paprika, garlic salt, and your favorite herb such as rosemary or thyme.
- Toss it all. Let it rest a few minutes, and place into a shallow baking dish.
- Roast for about 40-45 minutes, checking for desired doneness.
Hungarian Cabbage Soup
- 1-2 strips of Bacon optional. Could substitute smoked Paprika
- 3 cups Green cabbage chopped
- 4 cups Bone broth or water
- 1 Onion chopped
- 2 teaspoons Paprika or more to taste
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Lightly fry the chopped strips of bacon and set aside. Bacon can be crispy. Pour off excess grease.
- Add the chopped onion and then the cabbage. Saute until softened.
- Pour in bone broth (or water) until onion and cabbage is covered.
- Add paprika to taste and simmer until cabbage has softened.
- Serve with the bacon bits and a dollop of sour cream.
- Options: Add potato chunks, some garlic, and caraway.