Aside from substitutions that meet dietary restrictions or sensitivities, sometimes it’s fun to slip a new ingredient into a frequently used recipe, just to keep things interesting — or to give your pantry a little flexibility.
Here are some swap-ready ingredients suggestions from our Executive Chef Sarah LaCasse that can make things interesting without completely changing your recipe’s entire flavor profile:
Use a winter squash (any hard variety, like butternut, Carnival, Delicata, acorn) instead of or mixed up with sweet potatoes to deepen the dish’s flavor.
Swap pears for apples — or vice versa — in pies, chutneys or relishes. A pear's flavor is different but still highly complementary to ingredients that go well with apples. Chef Sarah likes to cut pears in halves or quarters and roast them with a pork loin. Nice!
Use a heritage grain like farro instead of rice for pilafs, stuffings and soups. Farro is an ancient variety of wheat with a chewy texture and mellow, nutty flavor (so it’s not gluten free); semi-perlato or semi-pearled farro is faster to cook than the whole grain.
If you love pasta, try other varieties made from whole wheat, kamut, buckwheat, quinoa or rice instead of traditional white semolina. They have a different taste profile from white pasta — like the differences between white and whole grain breads — but you might find that their nuttier flavors complement fresh vegetable sauces in ways you really like.