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Kitchen Basics – Substitution Guide

By March 25, 2015Kitchen Basics

I remember talking to a friend about a recipe once. She wasn’t sure what to do because she didn’t have the specific type of cheese needed for what she was making. This dilemma isn’t limited to cheese. It can be difficult to know what to do if a recipe calls for carrots, but all you have are parsnips. Or any other fruits and veggies for that matter. One solution is to go out to the grocery store when you’ve forgotten an ingredient. From time to time that’s essential. When you’re baking, for example, unless you really know what you’re doing, it’s tough to substitute and have it turn out, because all of the ingredients are there for a specific purpose. No baking powder? Don’t just substitute with baking soda. You’ll get a very different result. But, with regular cooking, making soups, pastas, frittatas… sub away my friends!

I’m very thankful that I’m pretty good at substituting in recipes (the non-baking kind). I actually prefer to cook without a recipe. It’s much easier for me. A recipe makes me feel confined. I like to cook with what I have and am pretty good at figuring out what works well together (I also love to use The Flavor Bible and The Vegetarian Flavor Bible as tools for paring and substituting).

Whether you like to use a recipe or not, it’s always good to learn how to substitute. The more that I’ve cooked, the more that I’ve gotten to know my ingredients, and I’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t.

Here are some of the things that I will substitute.

Original Ingredient Substitute With Substitute With Substitute With
Apples Pears Asian Pears Persimmons
Lemons Limes Oranges Kumquats
Peaches Apricots/Apriums Plums/Pluots Nectarines
Figs Grapes Cherries
Strawberries Raspberries Blueberries Blackberries
Watermelon Cantaloupe Honeydew
Beets Carrots Rutabaga
Broccoli Cauliflower Cabbage Brussels Sprouts
Celery Fennel
Carrots Parsnip Sweet Potatoes Winter Squash
Potatoes Rutabaga Kohlrabi Sweet Potatoes
Garlic Garlic Chives Green Garlic
Greens Cabbage Mâche Radicchio
Bok Choy Tokyo Bekana Red Choi Mei Qing Choi
Daikon Radish Red Radish Black Spanish Radish
Green Beans English Peas Snap Peas
Onions Shallots Leeks Green/Spring Onions
Winter Squash Sweet Potatoes Pumpkin
Arugula Dandelion Greens Arugula Flowers Mizuna
Broccoli Rabe Broccoli Broccoli Di Cicco Rapini
Turnips Rutabaga Radishes Potatoes
Fava Beans English Peas
Zucchini Pattypan Squash Crookneck Squash Scallopini
Acorn Squash Butternut Squash Delicata Squash Kabocha Squash
Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti Noodles
Corn Peas
Okra Sinqua
Bell Peppers Sweet Peppers
Beefsteak Tomatoes Cherry Tomatoes Roma Tomatoes
Cilantro Parsley
Basil Parsley
Chives Green Onions Spring Onions
Rosemary Thyme
Tarragon Fennel Fronds
Chocolate Mint Mint
Marjoram Oregano
Sage Oregano
Lemon Balm Lemon Basil Lemongrass
Rice Bulgur Wheat Quinoa Orzo Pasta
Cheddar Cheese Monterey Jack
Parmesan Cheese Gruyère
Sour Cream Greek Yogurt Plain Yogurt
Cream Cheese Ricotta Cheese
Ground Beef Ground Turkey/Chicken Bulgur Wheat Tempeh
Bacon Pancetta Prosciutto Ham
Chicken Stock Vegetable Stock
Tempeh Tofu Bulgur Wheat
Salmon Tuna
Sugar* Honey Maple Syrup
Butter* Olive Oil Coconut Oil Canola Oil

(Please note that many of these original ingredients can also be substituted for the ingredients to substitute with.)

*Except when baking, unless you know how to adapt the recipe. 😉

Happy Eating!

Author Rachel Oberg

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