Great tasting meals are easy if you keep the right ingredients on hand. Elyssa Andrus, author of Happy Homemaking: An LDS Girl’s Guide shares five flavor-boosting foods to keep in your fridge.
In the culinary world, some ingredients have star power. These items can punch up the flavor of any dish, making an everyday recipe into something spectacular. Here are five versatile ingredients to keep on hand for flavorful meals:
Fresh herbs give any dish an added boost, and in my kitchen you’ll always find cilantro. A staple in many Mexican dishes, cilantro brings a pungent flavor to salsas, rice, enchiladas, salads and even coleslaw. Some of my favorite dishes with this herb are corn salsa, and the cilantro lime rice and cilantro lime vinaigrette served at the Café Rio restaurant chain.
Soft cheeses can transform a recipe from frumpy to fabulous, which is why it’s nice to have gorgonzola on hand. Instead of using a blue cheese salad dressing, try pairing gorgonzola with sweet toppings such as cranberries or mandarin oranges in salads. Gorgonzola can be whipped with butter and garlic as a topping for steak or burgers. A few years ago, a friend of mine scooped gorgonzola into the center of pitted peaches and grilled the fruit for an out-of-this world side dish. It makes for a pretty an unexpected addition to any barbecue.
Spreads made with pesto or sun dried tomatoes can liven up a sandwich or pasta. (You can make your own pesto or purchase it at both grocery and specialty stores.) Instead of a turkey sandwich, what about a turkey-pesto panini, or a grown-up grilled cheese sandwich with mozzarella, parmesan and pesto? You can use pesto on a pizza in place of a tomato-based sauce, and add fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato on top. Or you can combine pesto with any plain pasta for a quick meal.
Pork products such as prosciutto add a salty, savory flair to any dish. Prosciutto is a cured Italian ham that is often paired with fruits such as melons or served with vegetables such as asparagus. It does not need to be cooked and is available at most delis. It’s wonderful in pastas with cream sauces, or paired with another meat, such as prosciutto-stuffed pork loin.
Citrus fruits are an easy, inexpensive way to boost the flavor of everything from water to cupcakes. These vitamin-C packed fruits are readily available year-round, and I try to keep lemons, limes and oranges in my kitchen at all times. I like to use everything down to the peel, adding lemon zest to the filling and frosting of cupcakes, or making orange peel beef. Even a slice of lime can add a quick boost to Diet Coke … and make it seem even a tad bit healthy.
Grilled nectarines with gorgonzola and honey
4 ripe nectarines
½ cup gorgonzola cheese
¼ cup crushed pecans
Prepare grill to medium-high heat. Wash nectarines, cut in half, remove pits. (You can scoop out a slightly bigger hole with a melon-baller.) Brush oil over cut side of fruit and place on grill, cut side down. Cook until nectarines have hash marks and begin to caramelize, about four minutes. Turn over and cook an additional two minutes. Remove from heat and arrange on plate, cut side up. Fill centers with gorgonzola cheese. Drizzle with honey and top with chopped pecans. You can also garnish with freshly ground black pepper if desired.
Elyssa Andrus blogs with Natalie Hollingshead at www.twohappyhomemakers.com.
They are the authors of “Happy Homemaking: An LDS Girl’s Guide.”