I remember like it was just yesterday: My grandparents would come in from the garden with baskets of their harvest. My Nonna would be be peeling off the leaves from the bean plants that stuck to her summer dress and begin to prepare a delicious lunch using the fresh veggies from the garden along side some pantry staples. After my Nonno finished tidying up outside and closing the sheds, he’d grab a bottle of wine from the cellar or a beer from the fridge, make himself comfortable in his seat at the kitchen table and prepare to feast. When I think about my grandparents, those are the moments that I remember and hold closest to my heart.
You see, food for me isn’t just about feeding your body, it’s about the memories associated around it that makes cooking and eating so enjoyable! Food fuels the soul! In my family, it’s what brings everyone together. We gather around the table, enjoy a delicious home cooked meal and chat about anything and everything.
I find that a lot of people over complicate food. Simple ingredients, passion and some good company are all you need to enjoy a delicious home cooked meal. With a hand full of ingredients, you can literally create anything! All you need to do is keep your pantry stocked with the essentials! Here are my top 12 must-have pantry items (aside from salt pepper and spices) that I have handy at all times:
12. Peanut Butter
A breakfast staple that can also be added to sauces for stir fry’s. Because of it’s binding qualities, it also acts as the perfect glue for home made granola bars and protein balls!
11. Baking Goods (Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Sugar (Honey), Chocolate Chips, Oats)
These are the essential dry ingredients for making any baked goods!
10. Dijon Mustard
Dijon Mustard works perfectly as an emulsifier for home-made salad dressings! I also love to add Dijon to marinades for chicken and salmon!
9. Canned Tuna
Canned Tuna should not be limited to just tuna sandwiches! It’s a readily available protein that can be added to pasta or salads, casseroles, melts and fish cakes!
Whether it’s used as a side or a main, keep a variety of rice in your pantry. I like to have Arborio (Risotto rice) and Basmati stocked.
7. Soy Sauce
Great flavour booster! It’s salty and tangy flavour is perfect for marinades and sauces. It’s also great for whenever you order take-out sushi because they NEVER give you enough soy sauce.
6. Bouillon Cubes
Speaking of flavour, bouillon cubes are sure to take your dishes to the next level! These convenient little cubes are packed with flavour and perfect in soups and stir fry’s and ideal for those recipes that require some sort of stock!
Balsamic, White Wine, Distilled and Apple Cider are always in my pantry. While either can be used in salad dressings they each serve their own purpose. Balsamic is great to add to marinades and sauces, white wine has of course a wine undertone, distilled vinegar is more sour and used for pickling but also works wonders as a house hold cleaner and apple cider vinegar holds many health benefits.
4. Canned Beans
I must have canned beans at all time. They are a great protein to add to soups, pastas and salads. I even eat canned beans as a snack! (Chick peas with a little bit of salt and pepper… yummm.. I snack on those things like chips)
All of, if not most of my dishes begin with oil. Olive oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Vegetable Oil are ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS stocked and ready to go. I simply can’t cook without it.
I’ve mentioned this before in one of my Instastories (@fromtheplaypen if you don’t follow me already) but I don’t use pre-made pasta sauces. I like to be able to control the flavours and sodium and honestly just prefer the taste of home-made vs. store bought. Passata is basically strained and purred tomatoes. It’s less expensive than pre-made sauces and is honestly just as convenient! Another thing that people don’t realise is that pre-made pasta sauces are packed full of sugar and other unnecessary additives. Trust me when I say that making your own marinara sauce is SO EASY and a heck of a lot healthier!!!
What kind of Italian would I be if I didn’t mention pasta! Whenever I’m looking to make a quick meal or if I’m short on dinner ideas, you best believe that pasta is my answer! It’s my go-to dinner staple, feeds a crowd and when pasta goes on sale – watch out! I like to have a variety of pastas available… long (spaghetti and linguine), medium (penne and rigatoni) and short (ditalini and macaroni).
See! Nothing fancy here. Just simple ingredients that make for tasty meals you’re sure to enjoy! I’d love to hear what must-have ingredients you keep stocked in your pantry! Comment below and let me know!