Quick and easy gar­nishes to glam up your plain, bor­ing food

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Flavours - By Becky Krys­tal

WHETHER you are stuck with a plain protein and starch or left­overs in need of an up­grade, these are some gar­nishes and ad­di­tions to con­sider, ar­ranged by cat­e­gory.

- Crunchy

Whole roasted, spiced chick­peas are easy to do at home, and given that they are one of the trendier snacks of late, why not keep a bag in your pantry, too? In­dian mar­kets are gold mines when it comes to these types of gar­nishes. Look for bags of whole or split fried and spiced beans, as well as snack mixes that in­clude them along with nuts, fruit and short threads of chick­pea noo­dles. Nuts on their own are an­other op­tion. Ide­ally, they would be toasted - small amounts in a skil­let over medium heat and larger in a 350-de­gree oven for 8 to 10 min­utes.

- Saucy

If you want a com­bi­na­tion of spice and sweet­ness, choose an In­dian chut­ney or Mex­i­can salsa, the lat­ter of which can be chunky or, well, saucy. Chut­ney pairs well with cheese in a sand­wich or on a board, and salsa can glam up any­thing from scram­bled eggs to, of course, tacos.

A dill or mint yoghurt sauce adds a Mediter­ranean ac­cent to grilled meat or a grain bowl. Ditto hum­mus, whether you whir to­gether your own or grab a tub at the su­per­mar­ket. If your taste leans more to­ward Spain, you can’t go wrong with romesco, a smoky-pep­per-and­tomato sauce that is at home on al­most any protein or grain, or as a dip.

- Egg

Yes, the in­cred­i­ble egg de­serves its own cat­e­gory. To call it a gar­nish may even be an in­jus­tice, be­cause adding it can turn al­most any­thing in­suf­fi­cient into a real meal. And you al­most al­ways have them around. Add an egg to left­over take­out rice along with some veg­gies and you’ve got fried rice. A crispy fried egg over roasted veg­eta­bles can be a light, sea­sonal meal. A poached egg, runny yolk and all, can dou­ble as a sauce in your grain bowl. Or put to­gether an im­promptu eggs Bene­dict with an English muf­fin and what­ever ex­tra veg­gies or meat you have. Hard-boiled eggs con­trib­ute heft to sal­ads, sand­wiches or tacos.

- Pick­led

Cue the “Port­landia” sketch! Yes, you can pickle a lot. And why not? Pick­led foods de­liver a one-two-three­four punch of crunch, sweet, salt and spice. Use them to perk up a sand­wich or plate of na­chos. Be­cause their flavour is so pierc­ing, they’re per­fect for cut­ting through the rich­ness of a creamy egg or chicken salad or a gooey grilled cheese.

For a quick DIY gar­nish, there’s no need to go the whole can­ning route. Small-batch re­frig­er­a­tor pick­les are easy to throw to­gether on a week­end (or even a week­night) and will give you a good few weeks of use. When the ba­nana pep­per plant my mother-in-law planted for us went bonkers, I took the sur­plus and just poured hot vine­gar sea­soned with salt and su­gar over the sliced rings and stored them in a cou­ple of half-pint jars. Hot pep­pers are ideal for this type of prep. Pick­led onions are ver­sa­tile as well.

Or don’t worry about mak­ing your own, be­cause pick­led foods are all over the gro­cery store. Nat­u­rally, there are cu­cum­ber pick­les in all kinds of shapes, sizes and flavours. Other pick­led/fer­mented foods to con­sider: Olives, green beans, capers, sauer­kraut and kim­chi. – Washington Post.

Quick and easy gar­nishes to glam up your plain, bor­ing food. - Photo by Stacy Zarin Gold­berg for The Washington Post

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