One of the things people love about chefs is our ability to throw things together in a flash with little perceived effort. Most times chefs carry on board a huge library of memories, formulas, techniques and experiences. They rely on these very things to create new nuances in old favorites or classic cuisine styles. The adage practice, practice, practice is true. The more you cook in a particular style of cuisine, the easier it is to improvise and create and develop new dishes or dishes on the fly as they do on all the cooking shows that pit chef against chef.
I find solace in Mediterranean cuisine. They have great flavor, texture and color. Some feature meats or seafood specific to the region, and with a few simple ingredients and even simpler techniques, phenomenal dishes can be created.
Smoked, dried, and fresh tomato are forged into foods all throughout Italy. Garlic and fresh herbs dance in harmony throughout the cuisines of the Mediterranean region. It’s easy with a few simple ingredients to make some very flavorful dishes. Here is my short list to success: garlic, shallots, fresh basil, Italian parsley, oregano, and bell peppers.
If you’re adventurous, try cooking with black olives, capers or anchovies. They are great tools to add to your bag of tricks. Add some fresh lemons or wine to a dish and see where that takes you.
Try this: Take a whole bulb of garlic, cut off the top and expose the cloves beneath. Sprinkle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) and add some sea salt and cracked black pepper and slow roast until the contents are soft and gooey. Add this to some pasta tossed with olive oil. Sprinkle in some fresh herbs and maybe a bit of Asiago cheese. Pair with a light Pinot Grigio and enjoy. It’s just that simple!