Q. I’ve been reading about the health benefits of turmeric. Into what types of dishes can I incorporate the spice? — Ruben, Appleton
A. Turmeric is a plant grown in Southeast Asia that comes from the ginger family. It is processed by boiling the plant, after which it is dried and ground into a powder. It is prized for its unique flavor and bright yellow/orange color most commonly associated with curry powder and curried dishes. Turmeric is an antioxidant which is beneficial to our heart and circulatory system, but it seems unlikely for someone to eat enough of it to make a significant difference without taking some type of turmeric supplement. In addition to usage in curried dishes, turmeric can also be used in anything cooked in a broth such as rice, pasta, legumes, couscous, barley and many other grains. Turmeric can also be used to flavor and color potatoes and other vegetables. Another very applicable use of turmeric would be in pastes, rubs and spreads. For example, when making an appetizer spread with cream cheese, mayonnaise or sour cream, turmeric could be added to make an otherwise pale looking base more rich and vibrant. It seems safe to say that turmeric is under-utilized, but looks likely to be an up-and-coming ingredient in the very near future.