So often I hear of people getting bored by food. Either they are bored of the shopping and cooking process, or bored by the same old recipes. This is such a shame as food is such an exciting, culturally-rich part of our lives. Since we have to eat in order to survive, finding ways to keep your meals fresh and delicious is a no brainer.
One way to do this is to keep your fridge and cupboard stocked with meal 'elevators'. These can be dressings, sauces and sprinkles that pack a punch - upgrading a standard plate to something to get excited about. I've listed my favourites below. Note the categories of sweet, spicy, creamy and crunchy. For the best results, combine a few from different groups to get full-on flavour.
Caramelised Onion Chutney
A dollop of this is a winner in so many different things. Try mixing a spoonful with some miso paste - then toss through some cooked chickpeas, lentils or shallow fried tofu. The chutney adds a deep caramelised flavour and when cooked, a crispy sticky texture. You can also add a spoon into tomato sauce based dishes - beans, soups and stews, and into homemade gravy!
Not just for curries! Mango chutney is great with Moroccan flavours such as falafel and tabbouleh. Try it with crispy tofu or roast potatoes - it works! You can also mix a spoonful into fresh grated carrot to make a super quick carrot pickle.
Chilli jam comes with a caution warning! There are varying depths of spice so try it before you dollop it everywhere. My favourite is the Tracklements one - warm but not hot. Chilli jam is great partnered with something salty and something creamy. Try it with salted potato wedges and tahini, or pan fried butter beans or avocado and sourdough.
Not everyone will go for this one, but if you like a bit of heat, a Dijon mustard can add heaps of flavour. Potatoes, parsnips, squash and pumpkin are all great with mustard. As are greens such as kale, cabbage, broccoli and peas. I also add a little in grain-based salads, fresh avocado dressing (avocado, lemon, mustard, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper), risottos and creamy mushroom dishes. Not forgetting of course the roast dinner - it wouldn't be complete without a dollop of mustard!
Good tahini should be light in colour, runny and super smooth. Once you've tried this, you won't want to go back to the lumpy dry stuff. I am a bit obsessed, and end up drizzling tahini on everything. It adds savoury depth and a creaminess that's sooo good! Next time you reach for cheese, try tahini instead - on pasta, beans on toast, baked potatoes, pizza... go on - try it!!
There are so many mayonnaises in the shops now, especially vegan ones. Try one - you can't taste the difference! I like adding some flavour to mine, either a sprinkle of smoked paprika or curry powder, or smash in some freshly roasted garlic. Try my super speedy curried chickpeas recipe for a quick dish elevated with mayo!
Dukkah is an Egyptian mix of toasted nuts, sesame seeds, coriander, cumin and other spices. You can buy it in the spice section of most big supermarkets now. It's crunchy and aromatic - perfect for adding texture and flavour right at the end of cooking. Elevate your soups, toast, salads and stir-fries with a sprinkle of dukkah!
A sprinkle of chopped spring onions makes any dish feel like a culinary masterpiece. They also add a different flavour to anything that's a bit one-dimensional. Try on baked sweet potatoes, any rice or noodle dishes, salads and dips.
So there you have it - my top 8 ingredients for pimping up pretty much anything. Be bold with flavours, experiment with different combos and above all - enjoy it!