The first principle of intuitive cooking: Pay more attention to flavors than instructions. Start with a favorite food (shrimp?), experiment by tweaking a tried-and-true recipe with new ingredients, and observe what happens when flavors intersect.


This meat is a staple of diets worldwide, so it's no wonder there are thousands of recipes for it—from Sichuan dumplings flavored with ginger, sesame, and soy sauce to Mexican posole stews made with cumin, oregano, and chipotle peppers. Pork has a slightly astringent taste that pairs well with the sweet-tart flavors of barbecue sauce—as in our recipe below.

Recipe: Barbecue Pork Chops with Red Cabbage Slaw


Slightly sweet with a mild brininess, shrimp makes a lovely match for a wide range of ingredients. Salty bacon is a classic counterpart, as is spicy cocktail sauce. In our recipe for Arugula Salad with Honey-Glazed, Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp, the vinaigrette-dressed greens provide a satisfying tang that plays off the richness of the bacon.

Recipe: Arugula Salad with Honey-Glazed, Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp


Because of the many guises they can assume, potatoes are often thought of as meek, adaptable sidekicks. But while they make a terrific complement to big-flavored meats and fish, they have a distinct, earthy flavor all their own and can play a starring role. For instance, you can turn them into crunchy hash browns, and throw in leeks and red peppers, whose sweet flavors stand out well against the potato taste.

Recipe: Hash Browns with Leeks and Bell Peppers


Asparagus has a pleasantly sharp flavor that balances nicely with the richer taste and texture of ingredients like cheese, ham, and egg-yolk-based sauces such as hollandaise. We've created a roasted asparagus salad with goat cheese and toasted bread crumbs to highlight that contrast, and used lemon zest and sea salt for added zing.

Recipe: Roasted Asparagus Salad with Goat Cheese and Bread Crumbs


This meat's inherent richness makes it wonderfully versatile, with a strong taste that can handle a wide variety of herbs, spices, vegetables, grains, and other accompaniments. If you usually roast lamb with garlic and rosemary, start by substituting an herb like lavender, savory, or thyme for the rosemary. And because the gaminess of the meat finds a counterpoint in sweet flavors, it works perfectly in a Moroccan lamb stew made with prunes and apricots.

Recipe: Moroccan Lamb Stew with Chickpeas and Prunes