We all need food as fuel to keep us alive and healthy. It’s important to be cognizant of what we’re putting in our bodies. Many feel like they often have to choose their health over indulgence, but that isn’t the case. Healthy food can be blissful, even tantric, if you play with the flavors in the right way.
Our taste buds recognize five basic tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami. Each flavor has its own unique attributes and if you play those up in the right way, your taste buds can enter the world of tantric bliss without having to sacrifice your health. I’ve designed a complete, four-course meal full of tantric tastes that will highlight each of these five tastes at their maximum capacity.
Soup: Cauliflower And Parsnip Miso Soup (Umami)
Most people recognize the first four flavors I mentioned, but not everyone recognizes what’s been penned as “the fifth taste,” umami. Umami has been well-known in Japan for years, but it’s only slowly creeping out to the rest of the world. Umami is found naturally in things like Parmesan, tomatoes, and mushrooms, and it’s described as savory, bold, and flavorful. This cauliflower and parsnip miso soup is garnished with roasted shiitakes and Parmesan cheese to make the most of umami flavors.
Ingredients cauliflower and parsnip miso soup
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 head of cauliflower, chopped
- 5 parsnips, peeled and chopped
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons miso paste
- 6-8 cups water
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups shiitake mushrooms
- 1 1/2 tablespoons tamari
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- Parmesan cheese, finely grated
How to make cauliflower and parsnip miso soup
- Heat oven to 400°F and place the cauliflower, parsnips, and onion on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and salt and mix it a bit.
- Peel off the outer skins of the garlic bulb and slice off the top, then wrap in foil and put it on the baking sheet with the other vegetables.
- Roast for 35-40 minutes, until the vegetables are golden brown and soft.
While the vegetables are roasting, dissolve the miso paste in a large bowl with 6 cups of warm water.
- When the vegetables are cool, unwrap the garlic and squeeze the cloves out into miso broth and whisk it all together.
- Clean and de-stem the mushroom, slice them thinly, and place them in a bowl. Add the tamari, and the sesame and olive oils and stir gently. Spread them evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast about 15 minutes.
- Using a blender or food processor, blend the soup in batches. Place about two cups of roasted vegetables into the blender and cover with miso water. Pulse until smooth, and repeat until all the vegetables are blended.
- Add all of the soup to a bowl and stir in the vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Heat the soup and top each bowl with roasted mushrooms and Parmesan before serving.
Salad: Strawberry And Feta Salad (Sweet and Salty)
Sweet and salty are each at opposite ends of the spectrum, but they play off of each other’s strengths and they actually go together quite well (science has proven it.) This salad is a simple three-ingredient recipe that tastes sweet, salty, and fresh, and won’t weigh you (or your nutrition) down.
Ingredients strawberry and feta salad
- Feta Cheese
- Fresh mint
How to make strawberry and feta salad
- Cut the tops off of the strawberries and slice thinly.
- Divide the strawberries evenly among your serving plates
- Crumble feta cheese over each plate
- Cut some fresh mint into little ribbons and sprinkle some on the top of each salad
Main Course: Chicken Piccata (Sour)
When people think of sour, they tend to shudder at the thought of it. Maybe trying to eat a whole lemon isn’t for everyone, but of it’s done right, sour flavors can be a real delight to the tongue. The lemon and briny capers in this recipe are tangy, but they accent the other aspects of the dish well and brighten up your palette just in time to get it ready for dessert.
Ingredients chicken piccata
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ cup chicken stock
- 1 ½ tablespoons capers, drained
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground red pepper
- Cooking spray
- 2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 lemon, sliced
How to make chicken piccata
- Combine the first five ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the butter is melted. stirring often. Turn heat to low just to keep it warm.
- Using a meat mallet or rolling pin, flatten the chicken until it’s about 2cm thick.
- Mix the flour, paprika, and red pepper in a shallow bowl and dredge the chicken.
- Coat a nonstick skillet over medium heat with olive oil or nonstick spray. Saute the chicken for 4 to 5 minutes per side, until it’s lightly browned and heated through.
- Add the sauce to the saute [an for the last minute of cooking and turn the chicken to coat.
- Transfer to a serving platter and cover with the extra sauce and top with lemon slices and the fresh parsley.
Dessert: Dark Chocolate Dipped Fruit (Bitter)
Surprise, surprise, we saved bitter for the dessert course. But trust me, it’s going to be delightful. Dark chocolate has a lovely bitter bite to it that works well with a variety of other tastes. You can play with sweet, sour, and and salty in this round as well. Each flavor will bounce of your tongue, but the bitterness of the chocolate will be the final lingering note, and it will be lovely.
Ingredients chocolate dipped fruit
- Good, dark chocolate, whichever brand is your favorite. The darker the better.
- Fresh or dried fruit of your choice
How to make your own chocolate dipped fruit
- Chop the chocolate up into fine pieces and then melt it in a double boiler over low heat.
- If you’re using larger fruit like bananas, chop them into bite-sized pieces. Things like berries and bits of dried fruit can be left whole.
- Dip each piece of fruit in the chocolate, shake off the extra, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.
- Allow the chocolate to set and there you have it: delicious, healthy dessert with an unexpected bite. If you want to play with flavors, try dipping slightly sour clementine segments in chocolate and then sprinkling with a bit of sea salt, sprinkling some salted pistachios on dipped strawberries, or coat candied tamarind or ginger completely with chocolate for a surprising burst of flavors.
And there you have it! The tantric tastes; four-course meal that will leave each and every one of your taste buds tingling. Prepare this meal for a special occasion with your loved ones, or just as a special treat for yourself to bring the philosophy of tantric bliss further into your everyday life.