The Dabble

-food with a side of life-

Part One: My Pantry Staples

Here begins a glimpse into my kitchen cabinets. I warned yesterday that I will be posting, over the next few days, my thoughts on pantry staples and some recipe ideas and links so voilà. Do share what you have, I’m interested.

I have most of these items any given week but it definitely doesn’t encompass everything in my kitchen. For most things, I am not brand loyal and I choose quality items when I have the weekly budget to do so. I should also note that my “pantry” changes with the season. I enjoy buying local, fresh ingredients in the warmer seasons and do what I can to support local goods for the rest of the year. I starred (*) the ones that appear in our cabinets/fridge/freezer most of the time. These items are great to whip up a quick dish (or not so quick but that’s your choice). The possibilities are endless. Most of the recipes on this site can be made with these ingredients.

Pantry Staples:

*Olive oil, vegetable oil, sesame oil, cooking spray

*Balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, etc.- I have several different varieties of vinegars, especially great for salads, on fruit and cheese.

– My “go to” recipe for Gourmet’s panzanella caprese salad

*Sea Salt/ pepper grinder -I also have other types of artisanal salts for desserts and other dishes but that’s because I am a salt fiend.

*Tuna in water (sometimes in oil) – I turn to tuna sandwiches when I don’t want to cook and throw in whatever is in the fridge or it’s good for salads.

Beans (*black beans, *garbanzo beans which are chickpeas, cannellini beans, Great Northern beans) – I toss these into casseroles, soups, puree them for sides and they span a variety of different cuisines so they always make an appearance in the cabinet.

– I love this bacon and white bean soup with herbs.

Chicken broth/vegetable broth – I use a lot of quality broth and stock in a week. (I rarely make my own.)

*Canned tomatoes (fire roasted, diced, whole plum and on and on) – great to make salsa, pasta sauce, soups, etc.

Baked pasta with fire roasted tomato sauce and mozzarella

Salsa (canned homemade usually for me)/salsa verde- handy to dip veggies/tortilla chips in, soup toppings, rice toppings, casserole layers

– Yum green posole soup with chicken

*Canned chipotles in adobo/*cilantro chutney- chipotles and the sauce spice anything up, which is why it often gets chopped finely and goes into soups, on rice (with cheese), the chutney can span different ethnic cuisines so be bold and try it on one of your favorite meals (I love it with Asian dumplings, bread and chickpeas.)

Sweet potato bites with cilantro chutney

Canned coconut milk- great with fish and rice dishes (reminds me of my time in Costa Rica)

Roasted red peppers/*capers-add tuna and beans in a vinaigrette dressing and that’s a meal

Cans of soup-good quality for lunch or quick dinners (usually my lunch)

Rice- long grain white (*basmati/jasmine/Arborio), brown rice, wild rice-many of my meals stem from a rice base, add steamed veggies and a baked or pan-browned meat for an easy meal or rice + pesto + feta or Parmesan = happy Annie

Chicken stir-fry

*Lentils/couscous or pearled grains -I like to switch up our grains

*Pasta (penne, elbow, farfalle, etc.) – I prefer the tube and shaped versions to rod

– A few recipes for pasta and other pantry items from Real Simple magazine

*All purpose flour/sugar/brown sugar/baking soda and baking powder/*vanilla extract or vanilla beans/cream of tartar/cornstarch/yeast – suits most baking needs and beyond

*Potatoes/garlic/onions/shallots (sweet, fingerling, red, etc. for potatoes which changes week-to-week for us) – potatoes, garlic and onion with herbs roasted with olive oil and that’s an easy side, add some meat and it’s a meal

Chicken in white wine stew, smoky cayenne shepherd’s pie and sweet potato, cilantro, cheese and sausage meal

*Pine nuts/almonds/walnuts/wasabi peas- snacks and pestos or dessert toppings

*Oats (old fashioned)/ cereal – I love to have oats for my chocolate peanut butter no-bake cookies oh yeah and breakfast with brown sugar or honey and raisins…I crave cereal sometimes so it becomes a snack or meal (I admit it)

*Individually packed snacks (baked chips, wasabi peas, pretzels, granola/trail mix) – for lunches and snacks to maintain portion control (I also buy large bags and divvy them up.)

Crackers- cheese becomes a meal for us with some fruit, honey and crackers (add wine)

Raisins and other dried fruit- great with yogurt and honey, toss in Indian dishes and tuna dishes

Rosemary and Parmesan popcorn-link below

Popcorn kernels-I like to make it the old fashioned way and this is my favorite version

*Dark and semisweet chocolate/*Chocolate chips/cocoa (for baking impromptu cookies/brownies/etc. and snacks) -I try to have different kinds of chocolate cacao-wise for baking and treats

*Peanut butter- I’m not the biggest fan but Greg requires it (but it is a big ingredient for the chocolate peanut butter no-bake cookies I linked above)

*Honey/Nutella- honey is a great alternative sweetener (oatmeal, granola, over cheese, yogurt and even in coffee) and the hazelnut spread is great with pretzels and a million other things, I think.

– few ingredient dish: Prosciutto-wrapped pork with sweet potatoes and pears or honey raspberry ice cream

*Coffee! and tea- I need a cup of coffee every morning (yes, need) and an occasional cup of tea to warm my bones and help an illness

Rum/tequila/whiskey/brandy/scotch/vodka/etc.-we tend to have one of these in the cabinet every few months to mix or drink straight

I’ll be back tomorrow with fridge and freezer items!

6 thoughts on “Part One: My Pantry Staples

  1. This is great! always been curious on what is really in the secret caves of other foodies.
    Thanks ! will be back
    CookNg Sisters

  2. I see a lot of similarities with my pantry here. A couple of differences/suggestions, if you don’t mind.
    #1 If you go through a lot of chicken (or veg) stock, really, really, consider making your own. It couldn’t be easier and there’s not much that’s more economical than buying a whole chicken, roasting it (again, super easy) and then having not only a carcass to make into stock, but cooked, shredded chicken that can be frozen in portions so it’s ready to go for any number of quick meals.
    #2 Although canned beans are not expensive, and they are very convenient, they are full of sodium. So although I am a salt freak, I’ve been working toward reducing the amount of salt IN my recipes, opting to add more into my portion if it really needs it. Starting with dried beans, cooking up 1 lb or more at a time, and freezing them in 2 cup portions (about what is in a standard 15 oz can) is easy-peasy.

    Looking forward to pantry, part 2!

    1. I really should make my own stock. I’ve only done it a few times but I use so much that I end up purchasing the higher price and then think ‘gee, why didn’t I just make my own and then I would have a chicken too?’ so that is helpful. Also, great idea with the beans. I sometimes use dried and your ideas to freeze are right up my alley. Very cool!

  3. If you don’t like the idea of buying a whole chicken to make stock, make vegetable stock out of your kitchen scraps. As you work throughout the week put the ends of kale, leeks, onions skins, carrots, cilantro etc in the freezer.

    On the weekend, get out your biggest pot and add 2 handfuls of frozen peas to the bottom of a pot with a good glug of olive oil in it. Let these cook for a little while and then squish them with a big ladle or spoon. Then add your kitchen ends, peels whatever you have extra and needs to be used. Some sad celery, a couple carrots (no need to peel), a potato or two, an onion with the skin on, a whole head of garlic, whatever. A couple if apples or pears is great if you have then on hand, just quarter and throw in the pot. A handful of spinach or something is nice as well, the only thing I wouldn’t add would be peppers, squash, cauliflower, or turnip; it flavours the soup in a strong way. Then add cold water to fill. Add some peppercorns, some coriander seeds, and a bay leaf and you are set! I don’t add any salt, that way you can add a little or a lot to the final dish and not be worried about what is in the stock. Let boil and simmer for an hour or 3 depending on how much stock you made and then pour through cheesecloth and freeze the broth into known sizes. We usually have lots of 3 cup containers leftover, but whatever you need is ideal.

    Hope that helps. We do this every week and it means we never throw out any vegetables.

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