Healthy food is typically boring and lame. I thought so too…how can food taste good without delicious starchy-ness? Without deep-fried crunchiness? Without meaty saturated fatiness? Well, my friend, it is entirely doable, you just have to add dimensions of flavour to your everyday ingredients. Incorporate these suggestions to make your salads, soups, curries, stir fries, sauces and bakes more flavourful and exciting, without adding extra bad for you stuff. Think of it as increasing your foods level of awesomeness a little bit more every time.
Take plain veggies and supe them up a bit. Roast any veg tossed in a bit of olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and add them to your recipe as you normally would. Roasted grape tomatoes (10-15min), hot or cold, add a sweeter note to salads. Roasted cauliflower dusted with cumin (35-45min) is a great addition to curry for a hint of charred nuttiness. Roasted nuts (5-10min) add body and texture to dips. Roasted garlic (in beheaded clove in tinfoil, 40min) is good in and/or on pretty much everything. Almost any vegetable can be roasted to add another flavour dimension to a dish.
Sautéeing, to the point of caramelization or not, adds a sweet and sticky dimension of flavour. Adding warm sautéed spinach, onions, mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, garlic, asparagus, or beans to a salad or omelette can make the difference between an energetic happy chew or a sad, slow chomp. For sautéeing, cook sliced or chopped veg of choice on medium to low heat in 1 tsp of olive oil per handful until desired softness is achieved. For caramelization, cook a bit closer to low and add another drizzle of olive oil to the pan, cooking until veg is super soft and starts to turn caramel coloured. Add balsamic vinegar or hot sauce instead of extra oil for a unique bite.
It’s not just for meat anymore, although yes, a good marinade can tenderize a nice piece of meat to perfection. Marinating veggies is a great idea too, giving them flavour and juiciness. Marinate cauliflower in curry spice and coconut milk overnight before roasting. Drizzle chopped red onion, zucchini, eggplant and garlic cloves with oregano, olive oil and lemon juice and marinate for an hour before throwing on skewers for the barbie. Even firm cheeses like feta and halloumi can be cubed and marinated in balsamic vinegar to give colour and tang to the outer layer of each piece.
Nuts and spices can become earthier and richer with a bit of toasting. Throw pinches or handfuls of pretty much any nut or spice into a frying pan on medium heat and toast them up a bit. When they start to turn golden immediately take them off the heat and get them out of the frying pan. Let cool and use as usual.
This technique is great for ingredients that are dried or semi dried. Soak dried cranberries or cherries in orange brandy for a brie cheese topper, or as a tasty addition to any salad. Dried whole chilies can be soaked in red wine before being chopped and added to chili, stews or soups. Semi-sundried tomatoes are delicious when soaked in white wine before being tossed in a chunky light vegetable toss. Who am I kidding…soaking is another way to help you get a little buzz on while maintaining good health!
What other ways are there to add a new dimension of flavour to a dish? How do you increase your foods awesome factor?