How do you make beans and vegetables taste as delicious as a flame-grilled hamburgers? By adding loads of flavour! Read on to find out how.
Create your personal vegetarian flavour toolbox
Vegetables need drama. Cooking methods like heavy charing, roasting and smoking will magnify their flavour. Besides these preparations, you need a vegetarian toolbox of flavour enhancement, with lots of ethnic condiments that will make a bland cauliflower taste sexy.
- Both a herb in its own right and a Middle-Eastern blend of dried herbs that differs per region. It usually contains oregano or thyme, sesame and sumac and is often combined with olive oil as a dip.
- Adds warmth and makes for a more complex taste. Add to root vegetables, stir fried spinach or curries.
- A white sesame paste and one of the main ingredients in hummus. Perfect to add to roasted vegetables for a nutty flavour or to make a rich dressing, by simply mixing it with lemon juice, water and salt.
Ras el hanout
- Maroccon spice blend ras el hanout is aromatic and spicy and gives warmth to both savoury and sweet dishes. The blend differs but it usually contains nutmeg, ginger, coriander, cumin, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, anise seed and black and white pepper.
- The king of all funghi is the porcino. When dried, the flavour becomes even more concentrated and savoury and a perfect condiment in stocks and sauces.
- This byproduct of fermented soybeans is indispensable in any kitchen cupboard. There are many varieties from light Japanese soy sauce to thicker Chinese soy and sweet Indonesian soy.
- Tamarind pulp is dark and has a deep, tart flavour. It can also be dried in a powder. Add it to curries, chutneys and sauces for a more complex flavour
- Pimenton is the powder of smoked bell peppers with an intense smoky flavour that really gives a boost. Add to roasted potatoes, savoury yoghurt, charred broccolini.
- There are many varieties of this sweet- savoury-nutty Japanese paste made from soy or rice. From mild white to dark brown and more pungent miso. Use in sauces and soups, to caramelise vegetables or fruits, or add a little paste to your pasta sauce.
- Whole lemons are pickled with salt and spices and develop a very distinct flavour. Blend into a salsa verde with lots of green herbs for roasted vegetables, or use in stews or marinades.
How to pickle
Preserve foods such as jalapeno peppers, beets or cucumber in a brine made with equal parts of vinegar and water and salt and spices to taste. The pickles are then transferred to a sterilised glass pot. Process in a hot water bath for longer storage, not-processed pickles will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.