June 21, 2009

Simple Foods

You may have noticed that many of the dishes presented here on the Evolving Palate are fairly simple. This is another motto of the Evolution Kitchen: "Simple foods satisfy the palate; complex foods confuse the palate." This is the main reason I don't like French cuisine. It it often overly rich and complicated.

I like to think that food has several levels of complexity. To me, the most important levels are taste and texture. Other less important levels, but still important, are color, temperature, and aroma. Complex foods have many tastes and textures. A rule of thumb for me is: simple foods should have no more than 3 tastes and textures, each. Any more overwhelms and confuses your senses.

There are many tastes in the food world. Example tastes are:
  • sweet
  • sour
  • salty
  • creamy/buttery
  • cheesy

That list pretty much sums up the repertoire of the SAD (standard American Diet). But there are so many other tastes that foreign to us, like savory, earthy, bitter, tangy, spicy, and so on.

For texture we have:
  • soft
  • chewy
  • crunchy(celery, apple)
  • crispy (fried food, chips)
  • flaky (pastries)
  • stringy (meat)
  • mushy

Food can be categorized according to their complexity. Here is a chart with some example dishes to demonstrate what I mean:

The green zone are foods that require little enhancing. Nuts and fruit are excellent examples of food that can be eaten simply as they are. Yellow zone foods blend contrasting tastes and textures to create a tantalizing dish, yet still simple. The red zone is what we call overly-complicated food. This food is such a mish-mash of tastes and textures that your mouth never quite knows what it's eating. The type of food you will find in the Evolution Kitchen are those in the green and yellow zones.

I present now a recipe that clearly falls into the yellow zone. Not only does it have only three main ingredients, but it forgoes the traditional sauce that drowns most vegetable dishes.

Here I showcase broccoli, an incredibly nutritious vegetable that rarely needs much enhancement. But I add a little twist by putting in cranberries for their sweet/sour taste and slightly chewy texture. Then I add some toasted pine nuts to add a crunchy earthy taste. This recipe is a breeze to make and satisfies the palate.

Broccoli with Pine Nuts and Cranberries


2 bunches of broccoli (about 2 lbs)
1 T olive oil
1/3 c dried cranberries
¼ c pine nuts, lightly toasted
½ t salt
¼ t pepper


1. Trim the broccoli into bite-size pieces. Shave off outer layer of stalks. Cook broccoli in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Drain, but keep the broccoli in the pot. Add the olive oil and stir fry for 2 minutes.

2. Stir in cranberries and pine nuts. Heat for another 30 seconds or so until heated through. Serve.

No comments:

Post a Comment