We all know a low FODMAP diet can be a culinary challenge. How many times have you omitted onion and garlic from a favourite dish only to find that the result is bland and disappointing? Over the years I have built up a bit of a list of reliable ingredients I keep handy to kick in a bit of a flavour boost when my low FODMAP cooking needs something extra.
Here are my Top 5…
What would I do without it? Spaghetti bolognaise, stir-fry, Caesar salad, pesto, even garlic prawns; they just wouldn’t be the dishes they are without the flavour of garlic. But fresh garlic is high in fructans and known to set off those dreaded IBS symptoms in those of us with a sensitive tummy. Oil infused with garlic is the perfect stand-in. As the oil is flavoured by garlic the fructans do not leach out into the oil. You can flavour your own oil by gently heating the oil you will cook in with chunks of fresh garlic cloves, then remove the garlic and continue cooking with the oil. Garlic-infused oil can be found at many supermarkets too.
It may have started out as milk but this hard cheese is quite safe for people with lactose intolerance. I only buy a fresh block of parmesan, nothing pre-grated or in a jar, as the flavour is so much better. Use a microplane to make easy work of grating parmesan. Add it to salad dressings, sandwiches, dips, and of course atop pasta and soups.
With plethora varieties, there’s sure to be an olive to suit you. Even people who don’t like to eat olives whole should try adding a small amount of olive to their cooking. I often add a tablespoon or two finely chopped, or some tapenade, to casseroles and soups. Tapenade is also delicious spread on fish, chicken or red meat prior to cooking.
Another of those Mediterranean ingredients that can act as silent partner in the kitchen. I often chop these little unopened flower buds to add to casseroles, soups, pasta dishes. They can also be added to salads and dressings, and are a star in a homemade tartare sauce for fish.
Last but not least of my favourite flavour additions are herbs. I use both fresh and dried. Fresh are great to add in the final stages of cooking, whereas dried herbs stand up to a longer cooking time. Chives are essential when you need onion flavour, as are the green ends of spring (green) onions. Thyme and sage are great with chicken dishes. I have a preference for flat leaf (continental) parsley over the curly-leaved variety. The broad leaved basil if essential for Italian cooking, but don’t forget about the Asian purple or Holy basil with its’ subtle aniseed flavour; delicious along with coriander and Vietnamese mint. There are just so many to choose from.
Now I know I called these ingredients above my top 5, but if I’m honest there are so many other ingredients I love to use to make my cooking flavourful. So please forgive me if I call something else one of my favourites…I just love playing with my food!
Do you have any chef’s secrets for your low FODMAP cooking?