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Jun 24, 2011 06:08 AM

no onion or garlic-need a different savory flavor base!

Hi, I'm cooking a birthday dinner for a friend who doesn't eat onion or garlic, or anything else in that family. Every time I omit these ingredients, I am not satisfied with the results.

I'll be dressing beans, pasta, potatoes. The extra wrinkle? She's vegan, so I can't add meaty flavors, like bacon, sausage or anchovies. So far, I'm thinking rosemary, sage and lemon. Or maybe a basil or parsley pesto. I also have some fresh horseradish on hand.

Looking for a vibrant enough flavor profile that the onions, garlic won't be missed. Can you suggest alternate seasoning combinations? Particularly anything that will add a meaty/unami note?

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      1. Yep, I third the mushrooms. I would use dried mushrooms to get a depth of flavour.

        1. Smoked paprika tastes like bacon to me. I use it with a heavy hand on everything.

          1. I like sherry, cream, and thyme. Which, incidentally, goes well with mushrooms. . .

            2 Replies
            1. re: jvanderh

              Sadly, the vegan part of the OP's guest's diet nukes the cream. And any pesto will be cheese-free. To be honest, I am at a loss without onions. Could you move into a more Asian direction?

              1. re: smtucker

                D'oh. I changed that to vegetarian in my head. Sorry, OP. I might sweat some thyme in oil and spike with sherry if you go that route. I think Asian is a great suggestion. Sesame noodles or peanut noodles are always good. You could make a big fancy peanut sauce like this one: you'd have to omit the garlic and fish sauce, but I don't think you'd miss it. The spicy/sweet/sour is very satisfying, the coconut milk adds nice creaminess, and the toasted sesame oil makes it smell great. Summer tomatoes sort of have an unami note to me, too. If you do a bean salad type thing, you might throw some in.