What makes a pantry essential ? For me, it’s an ingredient that has the capacity to add a lot of flavor, texture and goodness to a variety of dishes. In this blog I am going to share my 5 essential ingredients and give you several recipes you can use to make.
1. Onions, Leeks and Garlic - I almost always use fresh, but powdered can work, too. These root vegetables add that flavor to your dish. Leeks are the start to most of soup recipes. It takes minutes to whip up a marinara using sauteed onions, garlic and tomatoes; canned or fresh. Bean soup can be made by adding a can of your favorite beans to sauteed leeks and garlic with some broth…add bacon if you like it. Frozen pearl onions can be a tasty side dish by sauteing thawed onions in butter then tossing with a little brown sugar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper or boil and drain then toss in some heavy cream and nutmeg. French onion soup can be made in under an hour. (Link to the recipe below)
2. Mushrooms - fresh, frozen and dried - Mushroom add texture and flavor to many dishes. I forage morels when I can and dry them. To rehydrate them just place in tepid water for 20 - 30 minutes until they are soft. There is no need to thaw frozen mushrooms just toss them in a pan of oil or butter and saute until the excess liquid boils off. Mushrooms will add a woodsy flavor and chewy texture to an omelet, soup or stew, a marinara sauce. Try my rich creamy mushroom soup that can be made in about 30 minutes. (Link to the recipe below) Add mushrooms to a custard of eggs, cheese, milk and mushrooms and you have quiche. (Link to the recipe below)
3. Milk - dairy and nut milks -canned, powdered or boxed - I don’t drink milk, but it is an ingredient in many savory and sweet recipes. I keep a stash of both canned and powdered milks in addition to coconut and flax milks. Stock up on the nut milks you prefer. I can make pancakes, gravy, and cream soups and sauces any time without worrying about having fresh milk. Toss cooked carrots with coconut milk and a little curry and you have an exotic creamy side dish.
4. Beans - canned and dried - Canned beans are very convenient. My pantry usually has garbanzo, black eyed, cannelloni and pinto beans. Saute a chopped onion in some good olive oil and add a couple cans of beans add a can of tomatoes with some good New Mexico chili powder and you have Open a Can Chili. (link to the recipe below) To make a Humus dip for chips and veggies just toss a can of garbanzo beans, garlic, lemon juice and Tahini (sesame seed paste ) in the food processor. For another Mediterranean dip use White cannelloni beans, pesto or basil and olive oil. Lentils can be cooked then served as a soup or a salad.
5. Tomatoes - canned or frozen - Tomatoes add acid that can balance out any dish. Buy organic when every possible. Tomatoes can easily be frozen in plastic containers. Small tomatoes freeze whole- large ones can be peeled and sliced. Add to bean for chili. Using fresh tomatoes will make a rich marinara with, onions, garlic and basil. Salsa Pica adds freshness to a steak,
Links to Recipes
Quiche, a versatile dish - It doesn’t take much time to put together a quiche. Add a green salad and you have a meal.
Caramelized Onions - A favorite condiment - Onions be added to salads, burgers, and they are a treat on a grilled cheese sandwich.
Mushroom Soup is rich and earthy - Another easy to make soup that is rich in flavor.
Open a Can Chile - It can’t be any easier! to make a big pot of chili than sauteing onions and opening a bunch of cans. Add chiles to make it as spicy as you want. Brown ground beef or stew meat can be added or keep it vegetarian.
Pico de Gallo - fresh salsa - serve on a steak, with eggs, on tacos and burritos, or with good corn chips.