Malibu Beach Recovery Diet: The Impact of Texture on Taste
Use exciting new textures to bring your cooking to life
Texture impacts the way food looks and tastes, and how it feels your mouth. All ingredients have some kind of texture, but the way you can layer ingredients with different textures can set a dish apart.
You must know that a texturally exciting dish involves more than just crunch. It incorporates silky, spongy, airy, flaky, gelatinous, and other consistencies to create innovative dishes.
Many cooking and preparation techniques work wonders to enhance the textural qualities of an item. Even the way you slice a vegetable can create an impact. And often, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts—in other words, it’s the play between different textures that is far more interesting than any one texture alone.
When you are working with salads, use a playful combination of ingredients to achieve a surprising result:
- Crunchy: nuts, pomegranate seeds, croutons, vegetables like celery, onions or jicama, carrots, edamame, cauliflower or broccoli
- Crispy: apple or pear slices, bell peppers
- Silky: avocado, cheese (goat or brie), egg whites, mushrooms, poached egg, beans
- Chewy: brown rice, quinoa, turkey or chicken breast, steak
- Acidic: grapefruit or orange segments, pickled peppers or cornichons
- Sweet: cranberries, strawberries or blueberries
- Spicy: jalapeno, radishes, garlic
- Briny: olives, blue cheese, feta
- Juicy: tomatoes, fresh peas, fava beans, cucumbers, shrimp
The choice of lettuce will also make a huge difference:
- Spinach is coarser than butter lettuce but carries more taste.
- Arugula is slightly peppery but tender.
- Kale comes in a variety of shapes and forms but is generally pretty coarse and chewy. Massage cut kale to soften the chewiness.
- Romaine is crisp and tender and does not have much taste.
- Endives are crunchy and meaty and have a strong acid feel in the mouth.
- American Iceberg Lettuce…. Well, let’s leave that one alone as it provides little to talk about… no taste, no nutritious qualities. It seems to have been invented for the sole purpose of lodging itself in between two hamburger buns.
Using usual ingredients in unusual preparations is another innovative way to play with texture. A well thought out play on textures makes a dish more successful and memorable.
Orange and Jicama Salad
- 3 navel oranges
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small jicama (1 pound)—peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
- 2 Hass avocados, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Using a sharp knife, peel the oranges, removing all of the bitter white pith. Working over a small bowl, cut in between the membranes to release the sections.
Squeeze the membranes over a bowl to extract the juice. Whisk in the lime juice, vinegar, oil and cayenne; season with salt and pepper. Add the jicama and let stand for 15 minutes. Fold in the orange sections, avocado, feta and cilantro; serve.
Seared Scallops with Zucchini Ribbons and Pea Purée
Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a main course
- 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
- 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil; more for drizzling
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 2 cups fresh shelled peas (about 2 lb. unshelled) or frozen peas
- 1 cup lower-salt chicken broth or water
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 medium-sized zucchini
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1-1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
- 12 medium large sea scallops
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.
Place the chicken broth in a large saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cradle the zucchini in your palm and, using a vegetable peeler, peel long continuous ribbons of zucchini. Select the best looking ones and place them in the broth for 2 minutes until soft but not cooked through. Remove from the broth and place on paper towels to drain. Reserve the broth
Set aside 1 Tbs. of the shallots and put the rest in a 3-quart saucepan with 2 Tbs. of the oil and the garlic. Cook over medium-low heat until the shallots are soft and fragrant but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the peas and the broth and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat to medium low. Cover the pan and cook until the peas are tender, 5 to 8 minutes for fresh peas, 3 to 4 minutes for frozen.
Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender and purée to a smooth consistency, adding a little water if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return the purée to the saucepan, cover, and set aside on the stovetop to keep warm.
In a small bowl combine the parsley, lemon zest, and the reserved 1 Tbs. shallots and set aside.
Pat the scallops dry and season them generously with salt and pepper. Heat the butter and the remaining 1 Tbs. oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the scallops and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides and almost firm to the touch, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
Portion the warm pea purée among four large salad plates or between two dinner plates. Arrange the scallops on the purée and place the zucchini ribbons on and around the scallops. Sprinkle the gremolata over all and finish with a generous drizzle of olive oil.