The more I cook at home, the more critical I am of my own mistakes. More often than not, these mistakes have to do with seasoning a dish. True confession: I'm an under-seasoner, always hearing my mother's voice in the back of my head warning me to avoid using too much salt and remain cautious with herbs. But there's more to bland cooking than simply under-seasoning. So often it also has to do with a lack of acid, or that little bit of oomph
There are times when seasoning more with more salt, pepper and herbs just isn't the answer. For those times, a dash of acid usually rounds things out perfectly. Adding an acid (like lemon juice, vinegar or tomatoes) punches up a dish, often completely changing or rounding out the flavors and creating more balance. I cook a lot with grains at home, and if I throw together a ho-hum grain bowl or pasta dish, it's often a little lemon zest and juice that wakes things up and makes it truly tasty. Citrus also cuts through fat nicely, making heavy bland sauces more delicious.
Wine is another winner in the acid department. It counterbalances any undesirable or overly sweet flavors.
For more on how to improve a bland recipe, check out Julia Warren's terrific article: