Turmeric Cooking Tips

This week our produce boxes provided a small bag of something different. Turmeric is one of those ingredients that usually just goes into a meal because a recipe says so, without much thought about it as a food on its own. Although included in seemingly innocuous portions, turmeric adds tremendous flavor and color into a wide variety of dishes. Since the plant is endemic to southeast Asia, many recipes that include turmeric are ethnic in origin. I would say take this rare opportunity for fresh turmeric and get creative and cook something new, maybe even try to make your own curry powder from scratch. However, before you jump into your weekend meals here are a few tips and recipe suggestions:

In an earlier post I mentioned how Turmeric, along with other Zingiberales, is high in curcuminoids. This group of plant compounds are responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric and ginger, and constitute  4-6% of fresh turmeric. To maximize the effect of these compounds, it is recommended that turmeric be cooked with ground black pepper and a source of monosaturated fat (olive oil works well). The measured proportion amounts to about 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to 1/4 cup ground turmeric, so not much is needed. This combination will increase the bioavailability of curcumin to the body, that way you can get more out of less and hold onto to that fresh turmeric longer!

The sharp mustardy flavor and rich orange color of turmeric make it a fantastic ingredient in homely winter soups. I decided to make one today after skiing; combining carrots, onions, sweet potatoes and some of last weeks ginger. I roasted the veggies and got the spices brewing in broth. When the veggies were done, simply dumped them in the pot, blended it up and served; 35 minutes all said and done. The end result was something fantastic, and really, I must say that the turmeric was the keystone here. The flavor was rich and sweet, with a spicy tang at the end. I’ve got leftovers for what looks to be a little cold snap and I’m pretty stoked!

Here’s a link to the recipe that I used, but there are an abundance of others out there with some slight variations the this one:

Roasted Carrot Turmeric Soup

 

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