When I’m not testing recipes for Gatheredtable, I like to take a break from recipes and just sort of wing it. A little of this, a dash of that and voilà, dinner! I grew up cooking quite a bit with my mom, but even with that background in the kitchen, it’s taken me some trial and error to really see which flavors went well together.
The key in my mind to winging it is knowing which flavors to pair and which combinations to avoid. What do you combine to make something taste more Mexican or Asian inspired? How do you get that perfect Italian flavor?
These flavor combinations are also key when following a base recipe (for soups, frittatas, etc), especially when using up pre-cooked, pre-seasoned leftovers. To save you a bit of experimentation yourself, here are some flavor combinations that I’ve come to rely on while cooking:
garlic, onions, celery, basil, pesto, prosciutto, parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, pine nuts, tomatoes, artichokes, olives, olive oil, oregano, lemon, fennel, flat-leaf parsley, red pepper flakes, rosemary, white beans, balsamic vinegar
oregano, lemon, olives, tuna, rosemary, bay leaves, thyme, olive oil, lamb, garlic, feta cheese, tomatoes, red onions
cumin, chili powder, hot sauce, green peppers, oregano, lime, garlic, onions, celery, cilantro, tomatoes, scallions, black beans, cheddar cheese, avocado
ginger, garlic, scallions, shallots, lemongrass, Thai basil, cilantro, fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, coconut milk, sesame seeds, sesame oil, rice or sweet wine vinegar, cilantro, lime, oyster sauce, hot chili peppers
mint, lemon, harissa, saffron, turmeric, parsley, cilantro, honey, olives, almonds, dates, raisins, chickpeas, eggplant, green bell peppers, carrots, lentils, onion, ground ginger, paprika, cumin, cayenne, figs
butter, thyme, tarragon, herbs de Provence, bay leaves, chives, capers, red and white wine, soft cheeses, Dijon mustard, mushrooms, cream
miso, sesame seed oil, sesame seeds, rice vinegar, sake, soy sauce, wasabi, ginger
tandoori spices, curry, yogurt, coconut milk, tamarind, cardamom, cumin, coriander, cilantro, fennel, garlic, saffron, dried chilies