Even around here, the food can get mundane, especially if I’m not recipe testing on one particular day. So here are five ways I get good flavor fast when something seems just too plain.
Fresh herbs. I talk about fresh herbs a lot, and I know I’ve said it before, but it pays to have a few herb plants just outside your kitchen door or in a window box (if you live in an apartment the way I do—there’s no need to give fresh herbs up!). My favorites are rosemary, parsley, thyme, oregano and mint. A few snips of fresh herbs added to a dish at the last second (heat will dull the flavor and defeat the purpose) make good food great.
Parmesan cheese/blue cheese/feta. These are three strong cheeses, and it would be a pretty good bet that you can find all three in my fridge on any given day. They all have one quality in common: bold flavor. That means a little goes a long way, so I can add a lot of flavor for few calories.
Balsamic Vinegar. There is a sweet quality to balsamic that makes it perfect for sauces—even more so if you boil it down to a syrup and brush it on your meats as they cook. I had something so fabulous with a balsamic reduction recently that I am working on developing a recipe with a balsamic reduction for next month’s blog posts … watch this space for that fabulous dish.
Roasting. Yes, we all roast meat, but I hope you’ve started roasting your vegetables. Toss any veg (maybe lettuce doesn’t work, but cabbage does!) with a tiny bit of oil. Salt it generously (that’s an option, but I find it helps draw moisture out of vegetables) and roast in a 425 degree oven. This turns many a veggie hater into a veggie lover. I even claim Brussels sprouts converts using my roasting methods. And to boost the flavor even more, add a squeeze of lemon or a dash of cider vinegar (just a dash) to brighten the flavors.
Herbed bread crumbs. Maybe this is a little cheat because it combines two flavors above (cheese and herbs, albeit dry herbs) with bread crumbs, but it’s so easy to have these on hand (make your own from stale bread crumbs or purchased panko, Japanese bread crumbs, dried herbs and finely grated parmesan or buy bread crumbs). I find if I sprinkle bread crumbs on each serving just before an item is finished baking/roasting, I get flavor and texture. A good crunch packed with a lot of flavor goes a long way.
How about you readers? What are your quick flavor fix ideas?