Italian food has become so common in American households that one of our classic, lazy-person American meals is to boil pre-made, packaged pasta and pick up any of dozens of varieties of pasta sauces available at the supermarket. While it is certainly easy, comforting, and filling to eat this meal, try your hand at whipping up some unique, homemade dishes featuring the tastes of Italy. Here are 10 Italian spices that will spike up your meals:

1. Anise

Anise is widely used to flavor pastries and desserts. Use just 1 tablespoon of anise seeds in these Chocolate Chip Cookies with Grapefruit and Anise.

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10 Italian Spices That Will Spike Up Your Meals

2. Basil

Basil adds a lovely pop of fresh flavor to meals. Try using fresh basil in this Creamy Green Avocado Basil Dip, which is a perfect dip to lay out with veggies during a summer backyard party.

10 Italian Spices That Will Spike Up Your Meals

3. Bay Leaves

Bay leaves add a great taste to stews and soups, and you can toss them in the pan for flavor when sauteeing veggies. Use bay leaves to sautee onions for Mayim Bialik’s Vegan Reuben Sandwich.

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10 Italian Spices That Will Spike Up Your Meals

4. Chamomile

Chamomile tea is great to help you refresh and relax, and it has an apple-like aroma.  It can be used in cookies and bars; try these Chamomile Ginger Lemon Raw Energy Bars.

10 Italian Spices That Will Spike Up Your Meals

5. Crushed Red Pepper

It’s good to have crushed red pepper on hand whenever you want to kick up your pasta meals, but you can also use it for spicy vegan cheese. Use it to make these Vegan Pepper Jack Cashew Cheese.

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10 Italian Spices That Will Spike Up Your Meals

6. Garlic

With the exception of desserts and energy bars, garlic can be added to just about any dish for some extra oomph. Use it to make a spice rub for these Braised Seitan Short Ribs in Spicy Chile Sauce.

10 Italian Spices That Will Spike Up Your Meals

7. Italian Seasoning

Italian seasoning features several different types of spices like basil, parsley, and oregano, which adds a deep flavor to your dish and gets rid of the need to use each spice separately. Use it in this Gluten-Free Italian Focaccia Bread.

10 Italian Spices That Will Spike Up Your Meals

8. Oregano

If your sandwich seems a bit blasé, sprinkle some oregano on there for some delicious flavor. This spice pairs well with tomato and basil. Use it for these Vegan Puttanesca Panzarottis.

10 Italian Spices That Will Spike Up Your Meals

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9. Parsley

Parsley does not have a strong flavor, so it is great as a garnish for plant-based meals. Use it for this Lemon-Butter Fettuccine with Parlsey and Pine Nuts.

10 Italian Spices That Will Spike Up Your Meals

10. Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes have a deep flavor that add a tangy taste to pasta, sandwiches, and a host of other plant-based dishes. Try this Sun-Dried Tomato Tart with Zucchini Hummus.

10 Italian Spices That Will Spike Up Your Meals

Lead image source: Sun-Dried Tomato Tart with Zucchini Hummus

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