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Six Ingredients to Boost a Bland Recipe

Adding acid to food can balance a dish. Here are the ingredients that can bring that balance.

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If you've ever thought something was "missing" from a meal, it could have been acidity. When we taste our food, we're looking for a balance of different flavors -- salty, sweet, sour, spicy, and umami. Adding acid to food can complete that balance and change a dish entirely. If you want to play with the acidity levels in your own cooking, here are a few ingredients to try:

 

1. Vinegar: It determines the level of acidity in a dish and can alter flavors altogether. We particularly love balsamic (be careful, it's pretty sweet), sherry, and white wine vinegars.

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2. Wine: Think of wine as vinegar's cousin (and vice versa). Use it to balance sweet desserts like this French Toast with Red-Wine Nectarines, or to deglaze your pan -- "deglazing" means adding a cold liquid to a very hot pan, which allows you to scrape up all the good browned bits after cooking.

 

3. Citrus juice is a favorite. A squirt of lemon is always great, but limes and oranges can add vibrancy.

 

4. Tomatoes pair well with rich foods, like hearty meat dishes (think Spaghetti and Meatballs).

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5. Yogurt cuts through the fat. This Lamb Burger with Yogurt Sauce is a perfect example.

 

6. Pickles. Do we even need to tell you why we're such huge fans? We didn't think so.

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