I think of flavours in terms of tones, going from earthy and sweet to sour and light, and various grades in between. And I like my food to have a range of tones of flavours, be multidimensional. I know it may seem strange to talk of food in such terms, but somehow it makes sense. A garnish of certain fresh herbs on a meaty stew or curry. A squeeze of lemon or lime or a drizzle of brightly-flavoured extra virgin oil on pasta or salad lift that dish to more interesting heights. I also often use fresh chillies to give that uplift. I mix raw and cooked, grains and brightly flavoured vegetables, add the afore mentioned flourishes in order to achieve these tastes. They rock my boat, they just do it for me.
I’m inspired by South East Asian soups and noodle dishes, and by Ottolenghi salads, and think of them in the above terms. Or perhaps I like them so much in the first place because they fit my bill.
Tonight, I set to building a warm salad and finishing off bits and pieces from my fridge and pantry. Some new potatoes, and yellow and orange carrots are on my counter. I remember how much I like rosemary with anchovy on pizza, and think I can approach those flavours with a combination of rosemary and tuna.
5 small new potatoes washed and cut up into chunks, 2 yellow and 2 orange carrots washed and peeled, cut up into chunks, 5 small shallots peeled and quartered – all drizzled with some olive oil, chilli flakes, pepper and salt, roasted for 20 min. They’re coked, but can take some more caramelisation. Then I deseed 2 long chillies, chop them into pieces and add them to the roasting tray in the oven. After a few minutes, they’re joined by two sliced cloves of garlic and 2 small sprigs of rosemary, chopped. I roast them for a few more minutes. (I like flavours of garlic and chilli with roasted or sautéed veg, and add them towards the end, as they burn quickly.) Then I take the dish out of the oven and mix in a can of butter beans and tinned tuna. I taste the dish, but something is missing. I need to go a little higher in tone. Parsley would be great but I have none left. Instead, a little more rosemary and a drizzle of brightly green flavoured extra virgin olive oil complete the dish. Now I’m happy. I have a great dinner, and an interesting lunch for work.