Season to taste – those three little words at the end of many recipes that can be the cause of so much angst. In theory, it’s a pretty simple concept. Season your food with salt and pepper, then taste it. But how do you know when you’ve got it just right? Add more? Wish you’d added less?
How to Season to Taste
I’ve shared a few tips to help you get the gist of seasoning to taste before, trade salt shakers for ramekins filled with salt and pepper so you can feel exactly how much salt and pepper you’re adding. Add salt a little at a time and taste as you go so you don’t over do it. In order to season to taste properly, you have to get comfortable tasting your food while you’re cooking it and you have make friends with salt and pepper.
Salt’s role is not to make food taste salty. Its goal is to enhance the flavor of food. One reason why chefs and recipe developers don’t always list specific amounts of salt and pepper is because – and I promise this is not a cop out – it depends. It depends on the food, and more importantly it depends on your taste.
I can make the same dish a dozen times and the amount of salt and pepper I add may be different every. time. I like foods with big, bold flavors and I love it when every part of a dish is nicely seasoned. That’s how I was taught to cook in culinary school and even then, not only were we not given recipes – except for baked goods – we guesstimated amounts based on the chef’s demonstration. The question, “how much salt, Chef?” was always met with the same answer. “Enough.”
Same rules apply at home. I encourage my students to add a pinch of salt and pepper every time you add a new ingredient to your pan. Not a handful, but a pinch. (It’s easier to add more. Impossible to take it out if you overdo it.) Taste when it makes sense and add additional salt and pepper, as needed. Your food should be bright and flavorful, not dull and flat. It should also not be salty, which is why tasting is so important.
I had no problem at all tasting the sautéed veggies in my Veggie-Stuffed Portobellos. I like the flavor and texture that comes from grilling the mushrooms but you could just as easily brush them with olive oil, hit them with a little salt and pepper, and broil them until they’re brown and juicy, about 2 minutes per side depending on the strength of your broiler. The sautéed veggies are delish on their own and you’ll likely have more than you need to fill the mushroom caps, so score!
Do me a favor. If you make this recipe, let me know how you like it and if you share it on social media, post it with the tag #cookingclarified so I can see it and share it.
Make sure the grill pan or grill is nice and hot before adding the portobellos. If your grill’s not hot enough your mushrooms will cook up soggy and chewy instead of meaty and juicy.
Add the veggies to the saute pan according to what cooks the longest. Start with the garlic and veggies and add the corn and zucchini last.
Spoon (to scrape the gills from the mushrooms)
- 4 portobello mushrooms, cleaned, gills removed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium yellow or red bell pepper, diced
- 1 pound bag frozen corn, thawed (or 1 pound fresh corn kernels)
- 2 medium zucchini, diced (about 2 cups)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Clean mushrooms and remove gills. Heat grill pan over medium high heat.
- Brush mushrooms with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper.
- Place mushrooms on grill, gill side down, using a spatula to gently flatten the mushroom cap. Grill, without moving, until mushroom softens and begins to brown, 2-3 minutes. Flip mushrooms and continue grilling until mushroom is fork tender, another 2-3 minutes. Remove from grill and set aside.
- Heat remaining tablespoon olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add garlic and bell pepper and saute, stirring occasionally, until pepper begins to soften, 1-2 minutes. Stir in zucchini and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add corn and saute until corn is heated through, another 1-2 minutes.
- Place grilled mushroom caps on serving platter or plate, smooth side down. Spoon sauteed veggies into mushroom caps and serve.