We’re all cooking at home more than ever. Along with your staples, we believe every pantry should be stocked with items that add a sense of creativity and adventure to “typical weeknight meals” and make weekend meal-prep more fun than going out!
This fall we’ve been spotlighting some of our favorite pantry items to help you make the most of your time in the kitchen. (If you missed it, here’s Farmers’ Pantry: Part I).
Pantry staples are simple, versatile items used in everyday cooking, with a long shelf life. Here are six classic ingredients we think belong in every pantry:
Fish sauce: While we love winter comfort food, sometimes we crave a meal of crispy vegetables and tangy flavors! Stir fry is the perfect antidote. Our favorite Asian stir fry recipes include equal parts (about 1 tbsp each) fish sauce, hoisin sauce, and oyster sauce, along with lots of fresh veggies, ginger, and garlic. Fish sauce, a staple in Southeast Asian cooking, is what gives Asian recipes their umami—meaning “pleasant, savory taste” in Japanese. It’s the perfect pantry item because it stays good for several years and gives a flavor boost to anything from pasta sauces to marinades to soups.
Chicken broth: Winter cooking includes delicious stews and soups to warm you up after a brisk walk or ski. And a flavorful chicken broth is a key ingredient in any soup or stew recipe.Aneto Naturalchicken broth is a nice alternative to homemade. Made with free-range chicken and whole vegetables and simmered at low heat in massive pots for over 3 hours. No flavor enhancers, fillers, or additives.
Cornbread Mix: Cornbead is a tasty and hearty accompaniment to your favorite winter comfort foods. But any ol’ cornbread mix won’t do. We recommend a mix made with stone-ground (and organic, if possible) cornmeal, like Bob’s Red Mill, for extra texture and that delicious corny flavor. Plus stone-ground has more nutrients than regular cormeal. You can also use Bob’s Red Mill cornbread mix for cornmeal muffins. Enjoy with a pat of butter and your morning eggs!
Marinara sauce: If you don’t have a few jars of marinara in your pantry already, now’s the time to stock up! The holidays are here, and there will be nights ahead when you just want a simple, no-fuss meal. Pasta with marinara sauce is our favorite go-to. But it has to be a GOOD marinara sauce. That’s why we love Ooma Tesoro’s marinara sauce, made in small batches without sugar or preservatives. It really is as good as homemade. This family-owned business is located in western Massachusetts. So while not technically local, they’re close to home!
Dried beans: First of all, we love Rancho Gordo because their heirloom beans are purchased directly from small farmers in Mexico and California. Everyone wins: the farmers are able to pre-sell their crops and keep these varieties in production, and we get to enjoy beans we otherwise wouldn’t have access to.
Pasta: Amelia’s favorite pasta! Every pantry needs a decent stock of pasta. But all pastas are not created equal. Cipriani pasta is an egg pasta made in Italy with organic wheat durum semolina, which is higher in protein, fiber, and gluten than regular pasta. We love it’s hearty texture and earthy aroma! Perfect for stroganoff and a rich ragu.
Ready to expand your flavor horizons? These six items are for the home cook who’s looking for long-lasting ingredients that will give their dishes an extra zing.
Grilled artichokes: These grilled artichoke halves are delicious! During the holidays, we like to keep a few “instant appetizers” on hand. And this little jar of deliciousness is hard to beat. Marinated artichokes are both tasty and super versatile. Eat them plain, toss them on a salad, or incorporate them into pasta or chicken dishes.
Pine nuts: Pine nuts add texture and a buttery richness to all kinds of foods, from your favorite Italian and Mexican dishes to green salads and desserts. During the holidays, we love roasted pine nuts in our favorite veggie sides. They’re excellent tossed with green beans (and a little lemon juice, minced garlic, & olive oil). Or sprinkled over roasted brussels sprouts. Or even incorporated into your family stuffing recipe.
Preserved lemons: Preserved lemons are lemons that are salted, packed, and fermented in jars. They’re beautiful to look at, and they’re also super versatile and easy to use. They’re delicious in dressings, marinades, and sauces for pasta, meats, and poultry; pair wonderfully with braised vegetables; and add a bright, citrusy flavor to relishes and salads. Les Moulins are handmade in Tunisia.
Tahini: We can’t get enough winter squash this time of year. But we tend to use the same seasonings, as yummy as they may be, every single time. Enter tahini. Mix up a batch of maple tahini dressing (1/4 cup tahini, 1.5 tbsp maple syrup, 1.5 tsp apple cider vinegar, and 1 tbsp lemon juice) and drizzle it over roasted vegetables and fall salads. Soom’s sesame organic tahini is made with single-sourced organic Ethopian White Humera sesame seeds.
Cured Sumac: Cured Sumac is a Middle Eastern spice that adds a citrusy flavor to side dishes, meats, salads, and even desserts! It’s a great way to add a lemony accent to roasted vegetables. Toss your favorite seasonal veggies (carrots, brussels sprouts, winter squash, red onion, etc.) with a mix of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, cured sumac, and kosher salt; roast at 400 degrees for about a half hour; and voila! A delicious, healthy accompaniment to any winter meal. Burlap & Barrel source their sumac from Gaziantep, Turkey, where it’s chopped and preserved in salt (as opposed to being dried).
Capers: Capers are a staple in the Mediterranean diet and make a great addition to salads, sauces, and dressings. They’re actually an edible flower bud, harvested from the caper bush, and are jam-packed with nutrients (like vitamin K) and health-benefiting properties—often used for improving liver and heart function. Laurel Hill’s organic non-pareil capers (the smallest and most delicate variety of capers) are grown on the hillsides of Spain.