I HAVE NEVER BEEN SHY about my love of produce.
I have been singing the praises of cauliflower, tomatoes, and eggplant for more than a decade, since long before the groundswell of plant-based everything. I have done this in cooking demos, on book tours, and in the pages of books and magazines. It’s become my mission to understand what makes vegetables distinct and transform them, through cooking, into flavor bombs.
Still, in the spirit of openness, I must confess to a nagging doubt that creeps in now and then. How many more ways are there to fry an eggplant, slice a tomato, or roast a head of cauliflower?
The answer, I am delighted to report, is many.
This discovery comes in three forms. I call them the Three P’s.
The first P is process—what happens to vegetables when you cook them. You’ll see what I mean when you make the Potato and Gochujang Braised Eggs in this article.
When the humble potato, shredded and mixed with a few unexpected ingredients, emerges from a stint in the oven, the root vegetable has been transformed into a crispy-soft vessel of deliciousness intensified by the gooey yolks of the eggs.
The second P is pairing. What you match a vegetable with can draw out its distinctive qualities.
Every time you cook, you pair ingredients (obviously). What I have done, though, is learn four basic pairings—sweetness, fat, acidity, and spicy heat. Introducing one or more of these key pairings to a dish can show the vegetables (or fruit) in a new light.
My proof: the Tomato Salad with Lime and Cardamom Yogurt recipe that follows. Sweet tomatoes match with creamy yogurt and goat cheese, a tang of lime juice, and lip-tingling jalapeño.
The third P deals with produce itself. Taste what I mean in my Ultimate Roasting-Pan Ragù, in which mushrooms carry the weight of a complex dish on their own little shoulders. Mushrooms are bursting with umami and perfectly capable of providing ample flavor and serious texture.
Great cooking—plant based or otherwise—is never the result of one element in isolation. If you’ve ever had an incredible meal at a restaurant, it was because that dish had all Three P’s. And now that you know them, too, you don’t need a restaurant. You have your kitchen.
Source: Men’s Health