Once I realized I could re-purpose Parmesan cheese lids as shaker tops on my mason jars, I began making my own homemade seasoning mixes and never looked back! It is so rewarding to exercise your creativity and handcraft your own mixes with the ability to cater to your family’s specific tastes and dietary needs. You can adjust the sodium and sugar levels, the heat intensity, and the flavor balance of your mixes, all for a fraction of the cost of store-bought blends!
In the hunt for a great Greek Seasoning recipe, I came across two highly rated recipes, one from Misty on allrecipes.com, and the other from Jackie at Mom on a Mission. Both recipes have their own distinct personalities with different flavor thrusts, but both are very tasty in their own right. After making both recipes, I decided to combine elements from both into one recipe that best met my family’s flavor preferences. The results are as follows:
- Misty’s recipe was made as a versatile dry seasoning to be used in a variety of applications. I love Misty’s recipe because it is super tasty and I’d never think to add nutmeg and cinnamon to a recipe like this, but it works! And don’t be deceived when you sniff your new batch of seasoning! The predominant odors are of nutmeg and Cinnamon! But after grinding the mix into a fine powder and adding balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, the result is delicious for dipping bread (we used a gourmet three-cheese bread from the local bakery, which added a fantastic savory element to an already delicious dip).
- Jackie’s recipe is wonderful, too, in it’s own right. Her blend was designed specifically to be used as a greek salad dressing. It doesn’t have the exotic flair of cinnamon or nutmeg, but the flavor is solid and makes a great dressing.
My Personal Ajustments:
Monica, at The Yummy Life, did me one of the best favors ever, when I ran across one of her blog posts that explains how to make fresh, homemade Garlic Salt and Seasoned Garlic Salt. When I first found her post, I almost didn’t make it, because at first glance, it seems pretty basic, perhaps not even worth making, right? FALSE! I was so overwhelmed by the AMAZING aroma coming from my oven as I dried my freshly processed blend of pink Himalayan salt, raw garlic, and freshly ground pepper corns, that I couldn’t stop cracking the oven to take another whiff! After learning how to give this basic seasoning such a fabulous facelift, I’m never looking back! I’m such a fan of black pepper that I always make Monica’s seasoned version over the plain garlic salt. This is my go-to seasoning every time I need salt, garlic and pepper in the same recipe. Thus, I incorporated this homemade mix into the Greek seasoning recipe in place of separate measures of garlic, pepper and salt. However, when making this seasoning, I do not follow Monica’s salt-garlic-pepper ratio. I increase the amount of garlic and pepper and sometimes add onion too, to reduce the proportion of salt. Here is my version of lower-sodium Seasoned Salt.
Another adjustment I made involved Thyme. The sad truth is, I can’t handle much Thyme. There is an element to its flavor that reminds me of the smell of little stink bugs that used to take up residence in our wood pile back home when I was a child. This makes for a very disturbing flavor association. Thus, I removed the Thyme and made up for it with more rosemary, oregano and a little tarragon and sage, all four of which I adore, and are my go to replacements for Thyme.
Lastly, I reduced the sugar from Jackie’s recipe along with the cinnamon from Misty’s recipe. A full tablespoon of sugar was a little too sweet for my taste, while the cinnamon from Misty’s seasoning became rather pronounced after sitting in the vinegar and oil from the bread dip. My palate is rather biased when it comes to cinnamon, which feels like a very sweet spice, and I have to go through a number of mental hoops to rationalize cinnamon in a savory dish. Thus heavy handed cinnamon in Greek seasoning didn’t work out very well for me.
After comparing ratios of seasonings in each recipe from Jackie and Misty and calculating the proper amount of homemade seasoned salt, I settled on the following recipe:
- 3 tablespoons homemade Seasoned Salt
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon raw sugar (regular is fine, too)
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
- 3 tablespoons dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dried rosemary
- 2 teaspoons dried dill weed
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
What Can I do With This Seasoning?
This seasoning is pretty versatile. I have four favorite applications: salad dressing, appetizer bread dip, pasta salad drizzle, and dry rub for chicken and beef. Below, I have included recipes for each application.
- 3 tablespoons Greek Seasoning
- 1/3 cup vinegar (I love red wine vinegar)
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
Whisk all 4 ingredients together and store in the refrigerator in an airtight jar. I like to mix the ingredients in the blender because the xanthan gum acts as a great emulsifier!
Appetizer Bread Dip
I always thought that the mouthwatering appetizer of bread, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and spices was an ingenious creation strait from authentic Italian kitchens- a brilliant fusion of flavor for which I would be eternally grateful to the Italians. I was dismayed, however, to discover that the Italians would apparently be appalled by such a ghastly coalescence (at least, that is, according to Ann Reavis from Tuscan Traveler). But, it’s just as well, I suppose, because I love to make this apparently American invention with Greek seasoning, anyway. So I suppose this recipe is an offense all the way around to the Italians…. Sorry, friends…. But it is sooooooo tasty!
- 1 teaspoon Greek Seasoning (from recipe listed above)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Mix the seasoning into the vinegar and swirl into the olive oil. It’s that easy!
Pasta Salad Drizzle (my favorite homemade replacement for “Classic Suddenly Salad” by Kraft)
- 3 tablespoons Greek Seasoning (from recipe listed above)
- 1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional, but improves texture)
- 1 tablespoon vitamin C powder
- 2/3 cup parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons mushroom powder (optional)
Blend the Greek Seasoning in a spice grinder to the consistency of choice (I like mine blended to a relatively fine powder, as twiggy rosemary makes me feel like I’m eating a shrub). Mix in the remaining ingredients. The mushroom powder is completely optional, but it adds a savory note that, at least to me, seems to make up for the omission of MSG. I get a big container of dried mushrooms from Costco for a pretty decent price and blend them up in my spice grinder as needed for different recipes.
This mix makes enough seasoning for three batches of pasta salad. Divide mix into 3 equal parts and store in an airtight container or plastic zippy bag. To prepare for the pasta salad, select a baggie of mix and add 3 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Mix thoroughly and enjoy over your favorite pasta! (About 8 ounces dried pasta prepared to preferred tenderness works well). This is not a copycat version of Kraft’s “Suddenly Salad.” It will not taste the same, but my family prefers this homemade version to the commercially prepared variety. Plus, the homemade version is more affordable and contains no additives or preservatives! To spruce up the salad even further, we like to add a variety of different fresh ingredients such as:
- Feta cheese
- Fresh cilantro
- Fresh basil
- Diced red onion
- Chopped green onion
- Diced green, red, orange or yellow peppers
- Diced tomatoes
- Black, green or kalamata olives
- Diced pepperoni or salami
- Diced cucumber
- Crumbled salmon
- Cubed or shredded chicken
I like to keep it simple when seasoning meat with this recipe. I lightly rub the meat of choice down with a light coating of olive oil, sprinkle on Greek Seasoning (from recipe above) to taste, let sit for an hour our two to allow the flavors to meld (this step is optional), and cook according to preferred method (I love grilling chicken and steaks with this recipe, but pan fried chicken with this seasoning is great too!)
My favorite way to turn this seasoning into a liquid-based marinade is to add a couple tablespoons of seasoning to the juice of two to four lemons and allow meat of choice (I particularly like fish, chicken and pork) to marinate for two hours or more. I like to put the marinated meat along with a little of the marinade into a parchment paper bag and bake it. It also turns out really nicely on the grill when you place the meat in the parchment bag and place the bag on the grill with a double layer of aluminum foil between the parchment bag and the bars of the grill (this prevents the bag from catching fire). I like to cook the meat half way through with the lid on the grill, and then cut a slit open on the top of the parchment paper and finish cooking on the covered grill. Keeping the bag intact for the first half of grilling preserves the moisture, and cutting a slit on the top half way through cooking allows the smoke to flavor the meat nicely. You can also take the leftover marinade and cook it down a little to make a nice sauce to pour over the top of the finished meat.