IMG_0198Do you cook? If you do, then like me, you’ve undoubtedly made at least one dish that just didn’t turn out as predicted. Most of my flops occur when I’m creating a dish without the help of a recipe. But some recipes, even those praised by numerous individuals on the web, don’t measure up to my tastes.

Unless a dish is absolutely horrible — in which case it goes down the garbage disposal — I normally try to rescue it by use of one of my go-to ingredients.

My most recent recipe flop occurred this past weekend when I made a big pot of vegetarian black bean soup. I didn’t follow a recipe, but I’ve made bean soups of all varieties for years. In addition to the beans I added onions, carrots, celery, an assortment of herbs and spices, and a can of diced tomatoes. But despite my best efforts, it just didn’t have the depth of flavor I was looking for. It wasn’t awful; it just wasn’t particularly tasty. I scoured my pantry for a possible remedy and ended up adding about ¾ of a can of tomato paste, and a couple cans of water. Fantastic! That simple, relatively inexpensive ingredient made all the difference in the world. My soup suddenly tasted like something I really wanted to eat.

This is the first time tomato paste has ever rescued one of my efforts. When my marinara sauce needs a little something extra, a bit of sweetness, I’ll generally add a can of baby food mashed carrots to the pot. It thickens the sauce a bit and also adds that needed sweetness. Recently I added a can of pumpkin puree to a pot of chili and it seemed to serve the same purpose. I rarely add much, if any, salt to soups, stews, and sauces. But sometimes I find that just a pinch of salt will enhance the flavor. Alternatively, at times a pinch of sugar (or artificial sweetener) will do the same. If none of these work, a dash or two of Worcestershire Sauce seems to enhance the flavor of these dishes.

The photo at the top, taken at a local restaurant, represents one of the dishes I haven’t been able to figure out how to save. The dish is Mujaddara and is made of lentils and grains and various spices. While I haven’t tried making this exact lentil dish I’ve tried lentil soup and a baked lentil casserole. Neither turned out remotely flavorful. Despite adding a variety of ingredients the dishes weren’t tasty and were barely edible. So if you have a go-to lentil recipe I’d love to hear about it as well. In the meantime, I’ll get lentils at restaurants.

Do you have any favorite recipe rescue ingredients? Would you mind sharing?


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My first memory is sitting with my mother on a blanket in our backyard surrounded by books and she is reading one of them to me. My love of reading was encouraged by my parents and it continues to today. I’ve gone through a lot of different genres over the years, but I currently primarily read mysteries (historical mysteries are my favorites) and romances (focusing on contemporaries, categories, and steampunk). When I’m not reading or working, I love to travel, knit, and work on various community projects.