Break Out of Your Grocery Rut

April 14, 2009 by Kenmore

So let’s overcome our fear of the unknown together. Take a new route as you wander the grocery aisles, and find new ingredients to shake up your recipes.

Let’s start by taking a fresh look at produce. Check out the farmer’s market for fresh ingredients (and fresh air), or explore colorful new displays and bins at your grocery.

Papaya’s delicate flavor is a combination of peaches and pineapples. Scoop out the sweet flesh, slice and serve with diced avocado. Or, try it in smoothies and salsas.

Meyer lemon
Meyer lemons are rounder, with a slight orange tint and less acid than traditional lemons. They have a sweeter taste and pleasant floral essence. Squeeze over couscous or rice, or mix the juice into salad dressings or marinades.

You probably know there are huge antioxidant benefits in pomegranate. Try it in a marinade for lamb, duck, chicken or pork. Slice a pomegranate in half and plunge the pieces into a bowl of water. The edible arils (seeds) will float to the top and the pulp will sink to the bottom, so you can discard the pulp easily.

Pomegranate molasses marinade
Simmer three cups pomegranate juice, ½ cup lemon juice and ½ cup sugar, stirring periodically, until reduced by half. Use as a cheesecake topping; pour some juice into a glass of champagne; or serve over shaved ice.

Mango is great in salads, smoothies and salsas. Diced and mixed with blueberries, mango makes a great cooked fruit sauce (also called compote). It’s delicious on top of cake and is a tasty alternative to jelly on toast or crumpets. Check your market for Major Grey’s Mango Chutney, which is delicious when mixed with mayonnaise and curry powder for chicken salad. Or try my Mango Ginger Iced Tea.

This banana relative is delicious mashed with leeks and bacon. Traditionally, it’s served with rice and beans in Cuban and Central American cuisine. I like to finely slice and fry plantain pieces as a sweet alternative to potato chips. Ripe plantains resemble overripe bananas, with an almost completely black skin.

Mixed with ricotta, mint and salt, squash makes a great stuffing for ravioli. I also like to bring this flavor to risotto, lasagna, salads and even pancakes. I prepare these recipes as I normally would, adding a cup or so of roasted, cubed squash. You might like my recipe for Quinoa with Butternut Squash, Cinnamon and Mint.

Porcini mushroom
The nutty flavor of porcini mushrooms adds great depth to pasta sauces. Their meaty texture works well on burgers, whether ground up in the patty or sautéed and placed on top with melted Swiss. Though a little hard to find, the flavor is worth the effort.

Try out this Miso Mirin Glazed Halibut recipe and let me know how it goes.

How will you shake up your menus this week?


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