Vegetarian Cooking: 10 Ways to Make Meatless Meals More Flavorful
Avoiding meat doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor. Everyone has his or her own reason for choosing a vegetarian diet, and health is a common one. When you design a meal, of course you need to make sure it’s going to be full of nutrients, good proteins and fats. But you need to make sure it’s going to taste good, too.
Through years of cooking and designing recipes, here are my ten favorite tricks for making vegetarian meals more interesting so that no one ever feels slighted on taste.
Spices add character to any vegetable-centric meal. Explore ones that may be unfamiliar to you, such as sumac (my personal favorite), a dried Middle Eastern berry that gives a tart, citrus zippiness to rich root vegetables. Take the time to toast spices, it really opens up the flavor and gives them greater depth.
Shop seasonally to enjoy produce at its peak. Tomatoes are at their sweetest in late summer, while butternut squash is nutty and lush in mid-winter. With a little effort you can freeze or can fresh tomatoes to enjoy it all year long. Opt for fresh herbs when available and use them generously.
Build a Strong Foundation
Aromatics such as garlic, onions, leeks, and ginger make a great base for soups, braised greens, and stews. Save the odds and ends from your plant-based meals and master a good vegetable broth. It will be better than anything you can buy. Freeze stock in ice cube trays, and add the cubes to the cooking liquid for a batch of grains, or to kick up the flavor of braised greens.
You can even tailor your stock to a specific dish. For example, use stripped corn cobs to make a simple stock for corn soup. Or combine fresh and dried mushrooms for an easy stock for mushroom risotto. Parmesan rinds take a standard vegetable stock to a whole new level of added richness.
Add Salt As You Go
Foods develop more flavor if you season throughout the cooking process, as opposed to all at once at the beginning. Every time you add a new ingredient to the pot, season it. Holding your hand about 10 inches over whatever you’re seasoning will help distribute the salt granules evenly over the food’s surface. Experiment with flavored salts, …read more
Source: Deepak Chopra