Trying a New Dinner Recipe: What Inspires You to Take the Leap?

(Image credit: Anjali Prasertong)

They come from many sources: cookbooks, food magazines, blogs. You see them linked to from Facebook, and perhaps your mother in-law tells you all about her latest and greatest. That’s right: I’m talking about new recipes. I clip mine from magazines, with the collection spilling from manilla folders. I also organize and categorize online links so I have the perfect polenta recipe for when the mood strikes. But out of all the recipes I amass, what’s the driving force to actually select one in particular and tackle it?

I find that trying a new recipe isn’t something that’s necessarily driven by the seasons or moods or cravings. It’s something I really must plan for. It’s true that I may be sitting around after work and decide I’d really like to make the leek crostata recipe I’d clipped from a magazine last month, but chances are I don’t have the ingredients on hand and heading out to the grocery store makes the task seem less and less appealing. So I generally find that I try new recipes when I plan to try them and work it into my week: I know that I need to add the ingredients to my weekly shopping list, I tack the recipe to the refrigerator to remind myself and choose a day of the week that seems less frantic so I have a bit of time to ease into it. (I can’t stand feeling rushed when I’m cooking something new.)

There are also times when I select a new recipe in particular because I want to learn a new kitchen skill or recreate something great I had at a restaurant around town. We recently had an incredible shaved fennel salad at The Walrus and the Carpenter here in Seattle, and I came home and set out to try and find a recipe to duplicate it. I’ve also recently selected a few roast chicken recipes to improve my roasting skills, and I’ve been slowly picking out different sauces (romesco, in particular) to become familiar with so I can whip them up quickly to add to pastas, sandwiches or even eggs.

What about you? What really inspires you to take the plunge and try a new recipe?