Cooking at home can be cost-effective and rewarding, not to mention a healthier option than dining out. And, since taste tops nutrition as the main reason why Americans buy one food over another, the foods you enjoy are likely the ones you eat the most. So make taste a priority when preparing satisfying, nutritious meals at home.
To maximize food’s flavor and nutrition, start with high-quality ingredients and be sure to handle and store food properly in order to preserve quality. Overcooking can destroy flavor and nutrients, so cook to retain nutrients, flavor, color, texture and overall appeal. Cooking will not improve poor-quality foods, but it can enhance the flavors of high-quality foods.
Try these simple tips to enhance flavor and experiment with some flavor combinations.
- Intensify the flavors of meat, poultry and fish with high-heat cooking techniques such as pan-searing, grilling, or broiling, which help to brown meat and add flavor. Just be sure not to overcook, burn, or char the meat.
- Grill or roast veggies in a very hot (450°F) oven or grill for a sweet, smoky flavor. Brush or spray veggies lightly with a high-heat oil and sprinkle with herbs before grilling or roasting.
- Caramelize sliced onions by cooking them slowly over low heat in a small amount of oil, to bring out their natural sugar flavor. Use them to make a rich sauce for meat or poultry.
- Use red, green and yellow peppers of all varieties — sweet, hot and dried. Or add a dash of hot pepper sauce.
- Add a tangy taste with citrus juice or grated citrus peel. Lemon, lime, and orange are all good options. Acidic ingredients help lift and balance flavor.
- Use small amounts of ingredients with bold flavors such as pomegranate seeds, chipotle pepper or cilantro.
- Add a little burst of flavor with good-quality condiments such as horseradish, flavored mustard, chutney, wasabi, bean purees, tapenade and salsas of all kinds.
Adapted from: eatright.org