There is sometimes (ok, always) not enough time in the day to get everything done. And that includes making dinner! Cooking the recipes you know best might be easy, but it can also get boring, for both you and your family. Instead of trying to constantly change recipes, which can be both tiring and costly, add a few new kitchen staples to your cabinet! We’ve created a list of unusual food staples that will completely change the flavor palate of any dish, even your go to recipes. Use these five items to step up your cooking game.
- Capers. Did you know that capers are actually flower buds? You don’t need many to add a salty and slightly tangy taste to any dish. Capers go especially well with a dollop of greek yogurt and a squeeze of lemon over fish or chicken, like this recipe, though you can make it even simpler and just pop the individual ingredients on top.
- Tahini. A key ingredient in any good hummus, tahini is a pureed sesame seed butter, similar in texture to almond butter or sunflower seed butter. Just don’t expect it to be sweet! The flavor of tahini is in and of itself sort of bitter, but when added to a dish it contributes a creamy and nutty flavor without overpowering the other ingredients. Try this surprisingly flavorful kale side dish that features tahini and you will be a convert!
- Shallots. You know, the mini yellow onions that come in a bag? If you’ve never tried an onion taste test (and really, who would) you might not know that the flavor of shallots is actually a sort of mix between onion and garlic. So when you are looking to add some zing to an old recipe but don’t want the strong smells of garlic wafting through the house, try a few shallots!
- Tomato Paste. This one might not be unusual, but these days most of us reach for the pre made pasta sauces rather than a can of plain tomato paste. The thing is, tomato paste has so many other uses beyond a simple pasta sauce! It’s also great in soups and stews, even as an additional flavor in your next stir fry. This spicy chicken soup recipe makes great use of tomato paste. Just skip the side of tortilla strips.
- Smoked Salt. Smoked salt might sound simple, but it can really enhance a meat or vegetable dish. If you don’t have time to heat up the barbecue, a dash of smoked salt on your beef or chicken before you cook it on the stove will give it that smoky flavor you are craving. Some say it also greatly improves roasted cruciferous vegetable (i.e. cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, etc).
Do you have a favorite unusual kitchen staple? Share in the comments!