Discovery of the day: Bringin' the flava
Or trying to, anyway.
One thing I'm discovering I don't appreciate about many of the veggie-friendly recipes I find online is that they taste... flat. Take, for example, the Hoppin' John -- black-eye peas and rice -- that I made last night. I'm not familiar with the original recipe so I just made the recipe for the vegetarian version as written. Seemed simple enough: simmer black-eye peas and rice in water w/oregano, thyme, and bay, then add a bunch of sauteed onions, bell peppers, celery, garlic, and the like.
It was... underwhelming. Not sure if I under-salted (probably), or whether it was because I left out all of the spicy stuff (cayenne, jalapeños) in deference to my son's tastes, but it was pretty bland.
I looked up a classic version and found it calls for simmering beans and rice with a ham bone or ham hocks. That alone tells me I probably way under-salted! I don't mind using ham as a seasoning, so if I can find a (small) ham bone I might do that next time. Or maybe just fry up a couple slices of bacon and saute the vegs in that, then crumble the bacon in at the last minute. And add a little cayenne.
The larger issue is that I've run into this type of result before. What I don't know is A) whether I'm finding just-plain-blah recipes (most of the ones I've gotten are posted by just plain folks to vegetarian-type sites) or whether I am just so used to massive amounts of salt and concentrated meat flavors that I can't appreciate "the clean simplicity of the food itself." Read: Bor-ring!
As with most things, the truth probably lies in between. But you bet your bippy I'm getting me some smoked pork flava into that recipe next time, one way or another.