I am obsessed with spice stores. Seriously, if I’m in a mall and see a spice store, I’m going in! And I used to spend a fair amount of money on unique salt blends and rubs. But then I realized…those blends aren’t that hard to make! So then I started making my own sea salt blends, and I use them for everything now. In fact, I don’t often use just plain sea salt anymore. More often than not, I reach into the pantry and pull out a flavored salt blend. At any one time, I’ve probably got 4-5 different homemade sea salt blends in my spice pantry. I picked up some small spice jars at a kitchenware store, and they live at the front of my spice rack because I use them all the time when I’m cooking. And let me tell you…once I discovered how easy it is to make your own sea salt blends, I’ve never again bought an expensive blend from the store!
The first sea salt blend in today’s post is Lemon Basil Sea Salt. This blend derives a nice bright flavor from dried lemon zest and dried basil. You might be wondering where in the heck to find dried lemon zest and dried basil…you make your own! Seriously. It takes less than 5 minutes from start to finish. Just put the basil leaves and fresh lemon zest on a paper towel and microwave in 30 second rounds until they turn dry and crispy. It’s that easy! One of my favorite ways to use the Lemon Basil Sea Salt is on freshly sliced tomatoes. Just drizzle some good olive oil over the sliced tomatoes, sprinkle some of this sea salt blend over the top, and you’ve got a delicious snack. I’ve also sprinkled a bit of this blend over dips, such as this Spinach Artichoke Dip, and it works great there, too. Just remember to be sparing with the amount of salt you use…you can always put more, but you can’t take it away.
Another easy salt blend that is worth keeping in the pantry is this Chili Lime Sea Salt. It also features a bright citrus flavor, but the chili powder gives this one a slight kick. This is honestly one of my favorite salt blends, and I use it in all sorts of Mexican and Asian inspired dishes. I’ve added it to Stove-Popped Popcorn, homemade salsas, grilled fish and chicken, and Homemade Potato Wedges. These sea salt blends are incredibly simple and inexpensive to make. Plus, just imagine the look on your friends’ faces when you serve Grilled Chicken with Chili Lime Sea Salt or Sliced Tomatoes with Lemon Basil Sea Salt!
As a side note, drying fresh herbs in the microwave is a great way to store fresh herbs before they go bad. Just store the dried herbs in air-tight containers for up to a year. (The flavor of the herbs will diminish over time, so try not to dry more than you can use in about 3-4 months time.) If you experiment with other Citrus Sea Salt Blends, let me know how they turn out…I’m always looking for fun, new ideas!