Every foodie worth her Himalayan pink salt knows the value of purchasing the freshest of meats, cheeses, fruits and veggies she can find. You’ll get no argument from us there. Still, we can’t ignore the importance of well-stocked cupboards. Here are Artizone‘s recommendations for must-have pantry provisions.
Oils. A fully equipped pantry will include a basic vegetable oil, whose neutral flavor won’t overwhelm the foods you are cooking, as well as an inexpensive extra-virgin olive oil for everyday cooking plus a premium extra-virgin olive oil for dressings and for drizzling over foods. We also like toasted sesame oil, which has a distinctive nutty taste, for stir-fries and other Asian dishes.
Vinegars. Red wine vinegar is a fantastic all-purpose vinegar that gives salad dressings, marinades and soups a tangy flavor. Balsamic vinegar shows up most commonly in dressings, but a balsamic reduction also makes a surprisingly tasty topping for desserts such as ice cream and grilled fruit. Cider vinegar is used in barbecue sauces and other homemade condiments. Distilled white vinegar isn’t one you want to eat, but use it for pickling and as an all-natural cleaner.
Legumes. Though inexpensive, they’re a great source of protein and fiber. We like the variety of dried beans available, but sometimes we like the convenience of canned. So, we keep our shelves stocked with both. Must-haves include chickpeas, which we like toasted or mashed up into hummus; white beans; kidney beans; black beans, which we like in soups, chilis and tacos; refried beans, which make an excellent snack; and lentils, which are delicious in soups and sides as well as on top of salads.
Grains. Whole-grain pasta, couscous and rice (brown rice, basmati and arborio are just a few we love) are obvious inclusions. We’re also fond of ancient grains such as polenta, quinoa, bulgur, spelt, faro, amaranth, teff and barley. Not only do these nutrient-dense grains add variety to the diet, many of these plants are gluten-free and thus worthy of exploration for those with food sensitivities.
And though most of these items are happy to play supporting roles, there are times they can take center stage. Check out this recipe for fried polenta and mixed bean salad as proof.