Nibble while you cook. Dieting gurus might not approve of this recommendation, but it’s the only way to root out potential meal time spoilers.
Here’s a case in point: I was making a simple green salad tonight with green leaf lettuce and shredded red cabbage. Casting about for a quick accent, I came upon several Asian pears ripening in brown paper sack on the counter. The idea was perfect; the pear wasn’t.
Unfortunately, however, I had diced and sprinkled it over the salad before taking a nibble. Oddly enough, it was sour. I’d never tasted an Asian pear so sour and two earlier pears from the same batch had been delicious. Didn’t matter. This one was a bad “apple” that was going to ruin the whole salad. So I plucked the pieces from the salad and diced up a second pear–but not without trying it first!
Any good cook will tell you that tasting is often the difference between an OK dish and a stellar dish, just because recipes have a tough time working every time, exactly as written. There are too many variations in produce, meats, spices and other foods. Tasting allows you to make the necessary adjustments to work around the variations.
I’m going to expand the tasting rule to include the raw ingredients, too (to the extent they can be eaten raw.) Zucchini is another case in point. About every sixth zucchini I run into is a bitter one. Fail to eliminate it and the entire dish will be punctuated by bits of bitter zucchini. So before cutting one, I slice a little taste from the end. Both bitter and flavorless ones go to the composter for reincarnation, hopefully as happier zucchini.
I do this for practically all the vegetables and fruits I put in dishes, as well as pastas, beans, grains and meats once they are cooked. Only about 5-10% of foods are ones I want to keep out of a dish, but I’d rather pitch just one zucchini than suffer an entire saute with bitter accents!
Sounds like I nibble a lot? I probably do, but to appease the dieting folks, I only take small nibbles. I don’t want to ruin my appetite.
Also, know that a lot of your nibbles are upping your fruit and vegetable counts for the day, which is certainly not a bad thing.
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