Photo: Thinkstock By Lynn Andriani
Turn Cauliflower into Steak
The old way: Trim off and discard the stems; roast or boil the florets.
The new way: Sear it and bake it--like you would do with a rib eye--which makes the exterior crisp and the inside soft. Bonus: You don't throw anything out. Cut the entire head into inch-thick slices, forming cauliflower "steaks." Season with salt and pepper, and brown in a few tablespoons of vegetable oil until golden brown, about three minutes per side. Finish in a 350-degree oven, baking for 10 minutes or until tender.
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Photo: ThinkstockBring Tilapia to the Tropics
The old way: Olive oil, garlic, lemon, broil, yawn.
The new way: Pair the fish (which famously--or infamously, depending on how much you like seafood--doesn't taste like fish) with bold flavors. Our latest go-to: Puree some mango chunks, a dash of coconut milk and even smaller dashes of fish sauce and chili powder; then pour the sauce over the broiled fillet.
Photo: ThinkstockBuy the Right Brussels Sprouts
The old way: Sauté them with bacon or pancetta.
The new way: Go ahead and cook these vegetables with the smoked meat of your choice, but use baby Brussels sprouts. Since a vegetable's flavor tends to intensify as the plant matures, younger versions often taste less bitter and are more tender (thus needing less cooking). Melissa's sells baby sprouts in neat clamshell packages (check Melissas.com to find a store near you).
Cook Brown Rice Without Water
The old way: Simmer the rice in a pot with the lid tightly sealed.
The new way: Precook the rice to add a toasty flavor and then finish it in the same sauté pan. Fry the uncooked grains with a teaspoon or two of olive oil. A few minutes later, add a clove of minced garlic. When the dish becomes fragrant, stir in chicken stock (as much as you would have used of water). Simmer until the rice is cooked.
Photo: ThinkstockCrisp Up Baby New Potatoes
The old way: Boil and toss with vinaigrette.
The new way: Cook scrubbed potatoes in simmering water, but just for 15 minutes, until they're soft enough that, once they've cooled a bit, you can smash them slightly with the bottom of your fist (or the end of a sturdy juice glass). Toss them in a roasting pan with a coating of olive oil and salt; then roast at 400 degrees until the smashed edges of the potatoes begin to brown and crisp. Toss with minced garlic and whatever chopped herbs you'd like (mint, basil, rosemary, thyme); serve.
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