When we first opened our Napa shop in 2008, we had hundreds of herbs and spices for sale — including garlic and dozens of chilis — but no garden vegetables to speak of. Dried bell peppers, carrots, celery and other veggies weren’t originally on our radar until our customers, including professional chefs, began asking us for them.
So we set to work, sourcing the best and freshest ingredients until we had a rainbow of colorful vegetables in granulated and powdered forms: sundried tomatoes, red and green bell peppers, several types of onion and many more.
And we got busy in the kitchen, where we discovered why these accomplished chefs and home cooks were asking for these ingredients: It turns out that powdered veggies add deeper layers of flavor to sauces and other dishes, without adding extra liquid.
We also learned that granulated and powdered vegetables are very delicate, and can’t be handled in the same way as more robust and assertive spices.
They’re best added near the end of cooking, after the rest of the ingredients. Or you may sauté them — very lightly — over medium heat; powdered veggies will quickly burn in hot oil, and you don’t want to lose that light, fresh flavor and aroma.
You can also add powdered or granulated vegetables to salad dressings, or use them as a colorful garnish for cheese plates and crudités.
In this recipe from our home kitchen, Ronit uses two types of powdered dried mushrooms to intensify the flavor of fresh criminis in a creamy pasta sauce:
Get the recipe: Triple Mushroom Pasta