7 Flavor Boosters Under $10

With a few simple, inexpensive pantry items, you can get more flavor out of your everyday dishes.

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With a few inexpensive pantry items, you can really amp up the flavor in everyday dishes. As featured on Bravo's Top Chef, Nutrisystem's Tony Mantuano offers his expert tips.

1. Herbed Red Wine Vinegar
Sprinkle spices into a quality red wine vinegar, and heat until simmering to release their essence. Mantuano recommends combining fresh rosemary, thyme, and parsley with the vinegar. While warm, splash on cooked vegetables or chicken for a low-cal flavor boost.

Price:
$2 per bottle.

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2. Dried Figs
Use them for brunch foods (cereal, pancakes, French toast, and muffins), in Mediterranean main dishes, or more European-style desserts.

Price: $6 to $10 per pound.

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3. Pickled Pepperoncini
Add them to chili, chicken salad, pasta, and meat recipes—or make like the Italians do and serve with antipasti. Pepperoncini vary from mild to spicy, so you can choose the amount of kick to add.

Price: Cans start at $1.50.

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4. Imported Dried Oregano
Sprinkle the ultimate go-to herb in sauces, soups, meats, vegetables—even eggs. Mantuano suggests buying imported Greek or Italian oregano that's still on the stem and storing it in a plastic container in the freezer: "Whenever I add some, it reminds me of my grandmother's food."

Price: $6 and up per pack.

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5. Orange Zest
Try this "secret flavor weapon" with almost anything; the bright, citrus oils work well with both sweet and savory dishes alike. How to get the good stuff: Use a microplane grater, avoid the white pith, and enjoy the zing.

Price:
About $1 per orange.

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6. Capers
These pickled buds go well with beef, pastas, and poultry. "They're underutilized, yet they add a unique, intense saline flavor," says Mantuano. (Be sure to rinse them first.)

Price:
$5 per jar.

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7. Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Cook for five minutes in boiling water, then drain and chop. They're tastiest on pasta, frozen pizza, and soups. Watch: Tomatoes packed in oil can also be packed with calories.

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