If you ask us, ‘bland’ is the worst thing anyone can call our food. We spend so much time planning menus, carefully measuring ingredients, and cleaning up afterward that our food had better be flavorful! Fortunately, you don’t have to scrap a bland meal entirely.
Adding a few ingredients will transform your entree or appetizer from ‘meh’ to ‘magnificent.’ Whether you want to take a so-so dish to new heights or add some pizzazz to fail-safe favorites, here are some flavor boosters everyone should have in their kitchen.
Consider vanilla extract the gift that keeps on giving. A consistent crowd-pleaser, it’s sweet enough to satisfy your craving without adding mounds of sugar. Go ahead, add a couple of drops to plain milk, a fruit smoothie, or Amish oatmeal.
There’s a reason Worcestershire sauce is one of the most versatile condiments around: It starts as anchovies fermented in vinegar and includes chili peppers, garlic, onions, salt, and sugar. While the thought of combining sweet, savory, and…well…anchovies…may be cringe-worthy, we have to admit it’s delicious in meatloaf and Bloody Marys.
Vegetarians are no strangers to this flavor-boosting commodity. Mushrooms are packed with umami (one of the five basic tastes, along with sweetness, saltiness, sourness, and bitterness), which is commonly associated with meats. Whether you eat ’em solo or add a portobello or two to your lasagna, you’ll wind up with a savory—and dare we say meaty—meal.
Make no mistake, balsamic vinegar isn’t just good on salads. It works with everything. Seriously, everything. The perfect blend of sweet and savory, you can use it on chicken, fruit, or even in popsicles! Choose vinaigrette, glaze, or syrup…the culinary sky’s the limit here.
Ketchup may be the condiment of choice for hamburgers and fries, but when it comes to cooking, it’s all about the mustard. It doesn’t matter if you use a bold Dijon or spicy yellow; mustard is a great addition to salads, sandwiches, and marinades. And did you know it’s great on seafood? Try this dijon-crusted tilapia and see for yourself.
Anyone looking to add some zing to their dinner should pick up some lemons, limes, or oranges. In addition to giving any dish an indisputably fruity flair, the acid in citrus can help balance and enhance your meal’s flavor. This steak and citrus salsa dish packs a punch and will have ’em coming back for seconds.