Flavor Combination Conundrum
September 6, 2017 8:37 AM   Subscribe

As one who is prone to eating ruts, while possessing negative integers of culinary skills in any form (think, 'banned from my Italian grandmother's kitchen, after being deemed "a disgrace to my heritage"- level ineptitude'); I am in need of flavorful ideas from the trusty Hive Mind, please. Rigid preferences inside, because this beggar is choosy as all hell, but for very valid reasons!

Currently, I find myself hopelessly enamored of salads, and coleslaw. So much so, I am actually eating coleslaw for breakfast as I type, and this particular batch is already nearly gone. Ultimately, my hope is to glean flavor suggestions that will work for both salads and coleslaw interchangeably, while adhering to a stringent five-ingredient recipe:

salad/coleslaw base + fruit-flavored vinaigrette dressing + fresh fruits/berries + nuts/seeds + dried fruits

e.g. classic coleslaw mix + pomegranate vinaigrette + Granny Smith apples + honey roasted pecans + Craisins = breakfast of this champion! :D

Salad can be any sort of greens EXCEPT KALE. Spring Mix has been my default go-to. Coleslaw can be a standard mix of red cabbage, white cabbage, and carrots. Willing to try Asian-style slaws, but prefer classic slaw in general.

Vinaigrette dressings must be fruity, whether sweet or tangy. Nothing savory, please.

Fresh fruits/berries can be anything but mango, avocado, passion fruit, juniper, and goji. Because, allergies. KALE, I am still glaring at you.

Any nuts/seeds are welcome but they must be sugared, candied, glazed, caramelized, honey roasted, fruit flavor infused, or otherwise sweetened somehow where possible. Please nothing yogurt-coated, savory, or wasabi flavored.

Dried fruits of any kind (aside from allergens above, obvs) are welcome. So far, I have tried incorporating original Craisins or pomegranate-infused Craisins, because I am a madcap like that. Heh!

When I try to come up with other combinations of ingredients, I get stymied. Which nuts would pair with that fresh fruit? Do I stick with single-flavor themes, or brave contrasting/complementary tastes? What the heck else goes with pomegranate?? Why is this so daunting to me??? <-------- Uhm, rhetorical.

Many warm thanks in advance, so very grateful to have this community to consult. Please MeMail any questions, I am also allergic to consequences of threadsitting. ;)
posted by Amor Bellator to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have a look at The Flavor Bible
posted by metaseeker at 8:40 AM on September 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

I find that almonds and cashews have a pretty mild flavor and will go with anything you want to put them with. Walnuts, peanuts, and to a lesser extent pecans are a different story and need better pairings.

Maybe try a Thai-style, with peanuts, slaw base, some peanutty dressing, and lots of cilantro, if you're down with that. I can't think of a fruit that would work with that though.
posted by Fig at 9:13 AM on September 6, 2017

Dried apricots + almonds and/or pistachios = classic combo, popular in certain Middle Eastern cuisines. You can sub in candied almonds if you need to.

Also, I like the combo of mandarin orange slices + cashews.

For coleslaw, the classic seeds to add to cabbage are caraway and mustard seeds.
posted by mhum at 9:45 AM on September 6, 2017

This is not the first time I have recommended this book, and it will most likely not be the last, either. It is nothing but soups and salads. Some of them are a bit fiddly, but most are really easy, and if you play around with it a while you will most likely level up to realizing "wait, these are all basically the same recipe and so I can just use whatever I want" and you'll start improvising.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:56 AM on September 6, 2017

Alternate approach: keep your five categories, when you hear of a new possible ingredient decide where it goes, try every combination of one-from-each-category that doesn't horrify you from the get-go (start small), and


You'll find some interesting combinations, you'll understand more about what you like, trying all combinations will bounce you out of ruts, and heck, it would be funny enough to blog.

Go boldly.
posted by clew at 11:09 AM on September 6, 2017

I'm currently on a lo-carb, salads-for-lunch kick.

I think something you may be missing: sometimes "savory" can enhance the sweetness you prefer. I'm thinking of:
- sliced, hard-boiled egg
- crumbled blue cheese (preferably Roth Buttermilk Blue Cheese Crumbles) + candied walnuts

You might try Skinny Girl Poppyseed Dressing. While it's sugar-free, it's way too sweet for me, so I'm thinking you might like it?

For a slaw change, maybe try grated broccoli stems?

Finally, you might consider throwing in some fish, like a small, seared tuna steak or a poached bit of cod—both of these benefit from sweet accompaniments.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 4:28 PM on September 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think when you cross coleslaw with salad you get a category called "chopped salad". If you google that, you get a bunch of different recipe palates that might inpire you. I like the one from Outback Steakhouse - not sure exactly what all the ingredients are, but it has a blue cheese flavor.
posted by CathyG at 10:03 AM on September 11, 2017

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