There are certain ingredients that can always be called upon to fire up a recipe. Ingredients that can transform the ordinary to extraordinary. That when added to a dish, they create a secret pop that bluffs you into believing a simple recipe wasn’t so simple at all. Sure, there’s the obvious ones like fresh herbs and the never-ending varieties of chili peppers. And then there’s the capers and olives and raisins and Parmesans. Rather than fresh, those that fit in the latter group are often either dried, cured, and/or are aged, allowing for a compact flavor to brew and really add a pungent depth of flavor to a dish.
One of my favorites from this category are sun-dried tomatoes, a shriveled down version of a tomato that has lost 85-95% of its water weight. Sun-dried tomatoes pack all of the flavor and nutrients of a tomato into a checker-sized playing piece. Just like their un-sun-baked counterparts, they’re full of lycopene, vitamin C, and an array of other antioxidants. And when cured in olive oil, they stew up even more of an intense flavor in addition to a healthy dose of monounsaturated fats (shown to reduce the risk of heart and inflammatory diseases).
Originally created under the Tuscan sun blazing down on the tile roofs of Italy, I bought an already packaged jar from my local grocery store and walked them home on the sunny streets of Philadelphia. I then added them to a beans and greens saute to instantly spruce up the simple dish. These ruby reds can take your cooking skills and taste buds a long way.
- -1 medium onion, diced
- -8 0z. baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
- -3 large kale leaves, chopped
- -1 Tbsp. dried basil or 3 Tbsp. fresh basil
- -1-15.5 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
- -3 Tbsp. oil cured sun-dried tomatoes
- -1 Tbsp. olive oil
- -Salt and pepper, to taste
- Saute onions in olive oil for a few minutes, and then stir in portobellos. Cook until mushrooms are nearly tender.
- Add beans, greens, and basil. Season with generous pinch of salt and pepper, to taste. Cook 4-5 minutes, until greens are tender, but still bright green. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes.
- Serve atop whole grains, pasta, or in a whole wheat wrap.