Since I don’t have a car (yet!) and I can’t exactly walk to the corner deli to pick up last minute groceries, I stock up on hearty vegetables every Sunday and then rely on pantry meals all week: spaghetti with olive oil, anchovies, pepper flakes and garlic, fried rice with lots of hot sauce, toast with mashed up cannellini beans and garlic, polenta and quick tomato sauce, skillet frittata and toast. It’s freakishly amazing how many different meals you can create when you have a stocked pantry. These are the things I always like to keep on hand:
Salt. It’s good to have a variety of salt on hand. I love to use sea salt for cooking, kosher salt for baking and flaky salt for taste.
Capers. There’s salt packed capers (usually a little pricier), vinegar-pickled capers…I love them all, and always keep a stash handy for pastas, pizza, snuck into an egg salad sandwich, or sprinkled on top a bagel with lox.
Anchovies, sardines, and olive oil packed tuna. The holy grail of canned fish. I keep all 3 stocked. Anchovies are great for leafy green sautés, sardines are good in tomato sauce, and tuna makes the quickest lunch.
Canned beans: cannellini beans, chickpeas, black beans. So that you can make last minute bean stew, quick hummus, rice and beans, or this.
Pasta. I always have a box of spaghetti, a box of short pasta, a wildcard like this, and couscous.
Soba & somen noodles. For cold, easy to pack lunches and late-night summer dinners.
Rice. Japanese and jasmine are my two staples, but I know I should also have some brown rice, and even wild black rice handy, for dinners like this.
Quinoa and oatmeal. I don’t really like quinoa, but I felt like I had to add it.
Grits and polenta. Just add butter, salt, a grating of cheese and a fried egg.
Canned tomatoes. I spend the extra money to get good quality canned tomatoes. It makes all the difference. (No added basil bull shit!)
tomato paste. Get the stuff in the tube and keep it in your cheese drawer, or freeze in tablespoon portions, like this.
Oils. Extra virgin for salads and cooking, canola and grapeseed for stir fries, sesame oil for noodles and asian dressings, coconut for your hair : )
Vinegars. There’s a ton of vinegar out there. These are the ones I use over and over: Balsamic, red wine, apple cider, and white wine vinegar. I know it seems excessive, but they taste vastly different. I’ll use balsamic with olive oil to dress arugula, apple cider to quickly pickle red onions, and white wine vinegar for slaws. Red wine vinegar is great to have on hand for shmancy dressings and chicken.
Hot sauce. Sriracha, Frank’s, Cholula, to start.
The condiments: Mayo, mustard, ketchup, worcestershire. That will cover your bases on salad dressings and picnic food.
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes. So important! I use it mostly for spicy pasta and avocado toast.
Peanut Butter. For peanut sauce, peanut butter cookies, and endless grilled pb&j sandwiches.
Chicken broth. How many times have you looked at a recipe and thought, I have all the ingredients for this, except chicken broth? I think getting good quality Organic chicken broth makes all the difference.
Japanese essentials. Soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar.
Phew! What are your pantry essentials? What would you add?
photo from peppermintjojos