Chef's Secrets: Try These Unusual Combos to Add Flavor Not Fat

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/29/2011 6:00 PM   :  22 comments   :  16,607 Views

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What's the secret to cooking like a healthy chef? Think beyond the usual flavor boosters of sugar, salt and fat. While they taste good on the tongue, they're not exactly good for us, are they?

Today I'm sharing some unusual yet delicious flavor combinations that will help you create wonderful dishes that aren't heavy on the fat.
 
Fruits
Fruit trees are busting at the branches this time of year. Peaches, plums, apricots and cherries are all in season right now. Because of fruit's natural sweetness, choose contrasting flavors.  (A note on combining flavors: Don't overpower your main ingredient. Add small amounts of your supporting ingredients until you have a dish that's balanced to suit your palate.)
Try:
  • Quartered peaches stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in prosciutto--then grilled. 
  • Stone fruit salads with chopped thyme or lemon balm
  • Halved grapes with basil vinaigrette
  • Diced nectarines with jalapenos and honey
  • Diced mango with grilled shrimp rubbed with spicy chili powder
  • Strawberries with mango and jalapeno peppers
 
Pickles
Pickling is hot right now.  With so many people taking up hobby farming, in-season produce can run you out of house and home.  If you can't eat it fast enough or give it to your neighbors or food pantry, pickle it. 
Try:
  • Pickled Watermelon Rind with Serrano peppers
  • Pickled cauliflower with mustard seeds, black pepper and rice wine
  • Pickled mixed vegetables served over cream cheese on toasted whole wheat baguette
  • Pickled beans with dill
 
Citrus
New citrus produce is finding its way to your market.  Yuzu, a sour Japanese citrus fruit, can be found in Asian markets. It's sour, like a lemon, so you may not want to eat the actual fruit-- but the zest and juice offer a new flavor.  You can use the suggestions below with other citrus, too: lemons, limes, grapefruits, oranges and tangerines. Experiment with Key limes, Meyer lemons, and different varieties of oranges. Citrus perks up food the same way salt does--without all that pesky sodium.
Try:
  • Yuzu juice and zest mixed with honey then poured over sautéed shrimp
  • Combine yuzu zest with a bit of sugar. Use this flavored sugar in tea or in a vinaigrette for hint of lemony sweetness.
  • Orange segments in pork stir fry with hot peppers
 
What are your favorite unusual flavor combos?


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Comments

  • 22
    "rosemary nectarine and green bean salad" sounds tasty! I once made a casserole with squash, roasted green chiles, israeli couscous, and peaches (as part of a challenge to use certain ingredients) - it was surprisingly good. Another time I served spaghetti squash with tomatillo salsa and nectarine slices. Sweet and spicy is a good flavor mix, to my taste buds at least. - 9/12/2011   1:04:16 PM
  • 21
    I don't think I have an unusal flavor combo. - 9/9/2011   1:36:33 PM
  • 20
    I love a suprising fruit in my salad. My mom made a rosemary nectarine and green bean salad the other day. And although I don't like it my hubby has a turkey, lettuce, jalapeno and RAISIN sandwich almost daily for lunch :) Don't be afraid. - 9/6/2011   8:44:40 AM
  • MISSTRESSLILLY
    19
    Very interesting will try a couple of them - 9/6/2011   8:02:28 AM
  • DOGZER
    18
    all I can say is YUK, I prefer my fruits separate from the main dishes and not mixed with vegetable or hot peppers... - 9/6/2011   7:57:27 AM
  • ALLENDALET
    17
    Last evening I made a salad with sliced fresh peaches, grapes, banana, frozen blueberries, and I cut up a Star fruit in it adding a little lemon juice and a pkg. of Truvia for sweetner and it was delicious! Never used Star fruit in anything before, they were on sale 3 for .99 so thought I'd try it. Will make more of it today. - 9/6/2011   4:23:26 AM
  • AMYRIAMARIE
    16
    Some of these sound so strange! But I think I'm tempted to try them because of that...who thinks to combine these things?! Haha, off to the store for fruit and jalapeno peppers. - 8/30/2011   2:31:47 PM
  • 15
    I love experiencing new combinations - it really broadens the tastebud horizon - 8/30/2011   1:07:18 PM
  • 14
    I can't stand sweet things mixed with savory things, so I don't have any favorite combos that involve anything like that! - 8/30/2011   12:14:37 PM
  • 13
    When I was traveling in Italy, I had a wedge of cantaloupe draped with a slice of proscuitto ham. Now that was an interesting combination of flavors i.e. the sweet and salty. I have had strawberries with balsamic vinegar. it depends on the balsamic.
    - 8/30/2011   10:08:35 AM
  • 12
    I love cooked beets, feta and pear on a bed of field greens with a plain vinaigrette dressing.

    I am not sure how unusual this is: chop up yams, onion, Macintosh apple and cinnamon and nuke it. If I want to make a meal of it, I add chopped ham or sausage that has been cooked and squeezed in a paper towel. - 8/30/2011   7:10:59 AM
  • 11
    Try grapes with mint, yum - 8/30/2011   5:06:11 AM
  • 10
    Interesting. - 8/30/2011   1:07:37 AM
  • 9
    Thank you so much for these suggestions, I am so tired of the old ways. - 8/29/2011   11:32:44 PM
  • 8
    One of my favorite "odd combos" is a salad I came up with a couple years ago, that uses carrots, leaf lettuce, & sliced almonds in combination with fresh cubed pineapple, with a ginger / cumin / rice milk dressing. Weird, but it's always a hit. - 8/29/2011   10:49:28 PM
  • 7
    I'm not sure if it's really "unusual" but I LOVE chilled shrimp with mango peach salsa! It's kind of a play on Shrimp Cocktail, but the fruit adds another dynamic! - 8/29/2011   10:30:31 PM
  • 6
    Ever try smearing spicy brown mustard on tilapia? Sprinkle a few bread crumbs on then cook in a sprayed skillet until done, turning once. Yum! - 8/29/2011   10:21:40 PM
  • 5
    We use red grapes in salads instead of tomatoes. - 8/29/2011   8:40:16 PM
  • 4
    they all sound wonderful. - 8/29/2011   8:22:03 PM
  • LADYZOEO
    3
    those are some interesting ideas! - 8/29/2011   7:59:41 PM
  • YINETTV
    2
    I've never heard of pickled watermelon, definitely going to try it after all its one if my favorites fruits - 8/29/2011   7:28:08 PM
  • 1
    mmm mmm mm, I can't wait to try the nectarine, honey, and jalapeno dish!!!! - 8/29/2011   6:59:03 PM

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