This post is inspired by loyal reader Guitarzan. He heard me say "I can make this out of pantry ingredients" one too many times, and asked what I keep in my pantry.
I started a list…and wound up with a five pages of "things I can't live without". I don't think you want to read that any more than I want to spend an afternoon typing it up. So I took another approach.
What is my desert island pantry? I tried to go with five items, to match the five kitchen tools idea that floated around the internet a few years ago, but I couldn't cut it down that much. I had to go with….
The Ten Item Pantry
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Beans - canned or dried
- Canned tomatoes (diced)
- Pasta (or rice, or potatoes)
- Chicken Stock (Homemade in the freezer, preferably)
- Thyme (dried, or fresh if my thyme bush is in season)
*Note: Salt and pepper were too basic. I left them off the list, assuming everyone has them.
If I have those items on hand, I'm ready to cook. A quick run through the outside walls of my grocery store* for fresh meat and vegetables, and I can make a surprising variety of food.
*Or, even better, I can stop at my local farmers market.
This list gives me my key building blocks:
- XVOO as a cooking medium
- Oil and vinegar to make vinaigrettes - salads and vegetable sides are covered
- Aromatics to make the base for soups, stews, and chilis
- Pasta and beans to bulk up whatever I make
- Chicken stock as a soup and sauce base
- Vinegar and Lemon to add acid, citrus, and sweet/sour flavors
- Thyme so I can add in herbs when needed
I had to think hard before I cut the following, to get the list down to ten.
- Butter (This was the hardest one. XVOO stands in…but barely.)
- Dijon Mustard (The first add-in for all my vinaigrettes)
- Canned Chipotles (I love the smoky heat)
- Hard grating cheese (Parmesan or pecorino romano, to grate on top)
- Chili Powder (I love chili. But coriander, cumin and smoked Spanish paprika almost made it on the list)
- Soy sauce (essential for Asian cooking...but that's a pantry list for another day)
- Sherry Vinegar (I kept going back and forth between balsamic and sherry. I use balsamic more...)
What do you think? What did I miss? What would your list look like? Talk about it the comments section below.
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