Was your garden planting a bit overenthusiastic in places? Do you find yourself struggling to use up one or two veggies? It happens, and I am here to help. Last week we discussed preserving methods that also preserve nutrition. Next week we’ll talk swap-portunities. This week, let’s talk culinary experimentation.
When I’m trying to use up a vegetable I am getting tired of, I think about my opportunities for change in terms of temperature, texture, and taste.
Heat is one of the essential shapers of our food experience. Getting a too-cold bite in the middle of a grilled sandwich can be jarring. A drink that’s come up to room temperature when you want something ice cold is disappointing. We’re all familiar with the switch from a negative perspective. A jarring experience, however, is noteworthy because it’s unexpected. And sometimes, it can even be harnessed to generate surprise and delight.
Texture is generally a product of your cooking process. Blenders, obviously, tender to give foods a smooth texture. Raw is mostly equated with crunchy and cooked with soft in the vegetable world. Unless you’re making chips, in which case, very crunchy is the end game of cooking,
Vegetables do have flavor in their own right, but those flavors are frequently mild. Mild means malleable. Go globetrotting through your spice cupboard and explore regions untested. Try out curry pastes, spice blends, various oils, and new sauces. This is one area where you can run into challenges for nutrition. Keep in mind that sauces can be high in added sugars and sodium, and not all oils are created equal.
When you’re shopping seasoning at the store, look for one, two, or three Guiding Stars on the tag to choose the most nutritious options. When you’re cooking at home, work with no-salt spice blends to reduce sodium in your diet. Choose cooking fats that are liquid at room temperature to keep your saturated fat lower.