Sunday, February 3, 2013

Being Ready: Keep tidbits, Add Color

Flavor makes so much difference in this style of cooking and giving up the familiar patterns is much easier if the food is satisfying and flavorful. One way to make sure of this is to save the parts of vegetables that will make a broth more full flavored, or to add in something unusual that adds sparkle.

 A few leftover cooked beets or a handful of pomegranate seeds, or chopped pea shoots can make a salad zingy. Putting a smattering of enoki mushrooms or fresh cilantro on a rice cake with homemade humus (smash up those remaining chickpeas with garlic and tahini and lemon and you're there with oil-free humus) can turn the quotidien into a subtle and delicious treat. Chipping a couple olives off the pit into a salad will replace any depth of olive oil flavor you might miss, then add a splash of vinegar and a handful of toasted sesame seeds.  And save the stems from your shiitake mushrooms along with unused celery leaves and other bits, like the greens of the leeks, which go a long way towards a yummy soup stock into which you can throw lentils, a cut up potato and some kale.  You only need to simmer the bits in water and then strain the bits out -- you can add some carrots, onion and garlic too and voila!

Lemons and limes are key ingredients to have handy at all times. Drizzling lime on your celery and jicama salad is like having the sun come out from behind the clouds. A squeeze of lemon on the green beans or broccoli is all it takes to make a special taste out of a common one. A smattering of chopped almonds on top will add flavor and deeper layers to your nutrition for the day.  For example, 22 almonds, dry roasted unsalted, added to your salad, would add approximately 6 g of protein, 14.8 g of lipids, 6 g carbohydrates for their 169 calories, according to

We love to have tomatillos and avocado around too, adding tomatillo tartness to a sauce for our black bean enchiladas (recipe to come) or an avocado's creaminess to a cracker or a sandwich (great with a slab of tomato, slices of cucumber or red pepper and a sprig of parsley) makes a quick and lovely lunch.

One more item that I always keep in my fridge is miso. My local coop carries Miso Master Organic traditional soy paste in several flavors.  I like to try various types, barley, red, white, etc. At lunch I love having that to add to a bowl of boiled water in which I have quickly cooked any combination of chopped veggies (scallion, a grape tomato, a shiitake mushroom, bits of leftover tofu, a spinach leaf). You can also add a bit of soaked Wakame seaweed. Miso can bring depth to a soup, or sauce and is fun to experiment with in no oil-salad dressings.

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