Pantry Staples

A well stocked pantry is key to being able to pull together a great meal with whatever is in your CSA basket, at your farmers market, or in season and of good quality from the grocery store.  Here are some essentials that I keep on hand . . .

Spices
Cumin (ground and whole) – use ground cumin on veggies or veggie “meats” to create Mexican or southwestern inspired dishes , use whole cumin in Indian dishes
Ancho Chile – a mildly spicy, fruity flavored chile that is great for Mexican food
Oregano – critical for pasta sauces, pizza and grilled zucchini
Marjoram – less widely used, but also critical for pasta and pizza
Curry Powder – for curries, fish, popcorn
Fennel Salt – my go-to seasoning for salmon
Truffle Salt – popcorn, potatoes, anything you want to add luxury to
Whole black peppercorns – grind them on everything
Cardamom – the new cinnamon
Crushed Red Pepper – for anything you want to add a bit of heat to 

Fats
Olive Oil
Olive Oil Spray
Coconut Oil
Coconut Oil Spray (great on popcorn)
Truffle Oil – a great finishing oil for risotto, potatoes, and popcorn
Earth Balance – a more healthful substitute for butter
Parmesan Cheese – there is no substitute for the real thing
Maytag Blue Cheese – made in Iowa, and the best blue cheese ever
Wildwood Zesty Garlic Aioli

Carbs
High Fiber Pasta – for me, nothing beats Ronzoni Smart Taste
Arborio Rice – for risotto
Whole Wheat CousCous – for a quick side or salad
Popcorn
Potatoes, all types

Other
Lemons – I always have a couple on hand for salad dressing or impromptu pesto-making
Parsley, flat leaf, not curly. A bright, verdant finishing touch for soups, pasta and fish
Onions – duh
Garlic – double duh
Ginger – fresh, NOT the spice. You can keep it in the fridge so you will always have some on hand. It grates better frozen too.

Tomato – always good to have one on hand to toss in a salad, add to a sandwich, or make a fresh salsa.  In the summer I am never without a tomato on my counter.  Just don’t put it in the fridge, it sucks all of the flavor out.
Miso – great on fish and in salad dressings and dips, I like Westbrae Naturals Mellow White Miso
Dijon Mustard – for salad dressings, sandwiches, a dip for pretzels
Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base – a great substitution for chicken broth
Balsamic Vinegar and Balsamic Glaze
Sherry Vinegar
Rice Vinegar – I like keeping both seasoned (with sugar) and unseasoned (without sugar) on hand for salad dressings
Tamari – I prefer the flavor of tamari to soy, but they work interchangeably (unless gluten is of concern, then skip the soy)
Tahini – a sesame paste that is perfect in hummus, dips, and salad dressings
Nuts – I like to keep a variety on hand to add to salads, pastas and pestos.  I keep them in the freezer to keep them fresh longer
Breadcrumbs- I save leftover bread in the freezer and make my own in the food processor.  I also love panko bread crumbs when I’m looking for a very crispy coating or topping

 

 

 

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