Salt is the taste-enhancer, there is no doubt about that. But we are inundated with the stuff (I defy you to find a processed food without it) and probably could do with less of it in our diets.
So what to do? Well, let me introduce you to my little friend. No, not that little friend. Another little friend I like to call bouquet garni.
Yes, yes, I know what you are asking. “What is a bouquet garni and why should I care?”
Here’s the short answer: Bouquet garni is a shortcut to yum yum. A shortcut that bypasses salt.
But if you want the long answer, as well as an introduction to another little friend, mirepoix, and a New Orleans version of mirepoix, then keep reading.
See, the trick to life without salt is to boost flavor so you don't miss the salt. And, for us almost vegetarians, with the abundance of herbs and vegetables, that’s a pretty easy task.
So easy, that here are three salt-free ways to boost flavor.
Say hello to my little friend
Bouquet garni is simply a bunch of herbs, typically thyme, parsley, and bay leaf, tied together with a bit of kitchen string. You drop these herbs into your soup while it is cooking, then use the end of the string to conveniently dish them out when the cooking is done.
They go in the garbage; the soup goes in your tummy; and a smile goes on your face.
When just one little friend is not enough
An alternative to bouquet garni, Mirepoix is simply a mix of equal parts of carrots, onions, and celery. Diced fine, they are is sautéed until soft, then used as a base for soups or sauces.
Unlike bouquet garni, the carrot, onion, and celery mix is not removed and discarded. Which is good because it is much nicer to eat these tasty bits then try to pick them out of your dinner.
Mirepoix, the New Orleans version
And, just for fun, in Louisiana they use green pepper in place of the carrots for a nice variation on the French mirepoix.
But don’t stop there
There are so many other ways to add flavor without the salt. Rosemary leaves, for example, stripped from the sprig and sprinkled over your cooking meal. Or onions, sautéed until they are carmelized. Or sliced garlic sautéed in olive oil until the oil is fragrant and ready to be used to sautée any number of vegetables.
See how easy it is?
Now if it was only this easy to find a substitute for chocolate. Sigh.