Fresh nutmeg is a spice mercenary; whether you’re preparing sweet or savoury food, nutmeg will work for you.

Let me emphasise that we’re talking about fresh nutmeg, which is in a completely different league to the pre-ground stuff. Buy it whole and use a Microplane, or the smallest panel on a box grater to finely grate the spice into your food.

If you’re not already a fresh nutmeg fan, you’ll want to become one over winter. It instantly adds that warm, mid-winter Christmas aroma and, along with cinnamon and cloves, is an excellent spice to add to baking.

A classic use of nutmeg is in potato and leek soup; its woodiness pairs nicely with the earthy flavours, and although fragrant it isn’t going to make your soup taste like dessert. When cooking rice for kushari, we grate an entire nutmeg seed into the vegetable stock.

More ways to use nutmeg:

  • Grate nutmeg onto a cappuccino instead of cinnamon
  • Include in the crumble topping of apple crumble, or in spiced apple muffins
  • Add to a creamy vanilla rice pudding
  • Grate nutmeg into a fragrant curry, especially with sweet vegetables such as pumpkin
  • Roast beetroots with fresh nutmeg, salt and balsamic

This originally appeared in Vegetarian Living NZ, which is NZ Vegetarian Society’s seasonal magazine.