Wednesday, January 11, 2012

This is about one tenth of my pantry ingredients, and most of the items pictured are not even from the list I just posted.
I've been under the weather for the last few days so have fallen behind. The following post is about what I use in the pantry regularly for my new year eats and the fresh ingredients I stock up on at the beginning of the week.  

Important pantry items

High end balsamic vinegar - you should be able to use it straight out of the bottle into the salad, no mixing. My favorite for the price is from William Sonoma, $40 for 459ml.
Cheap balsamic vinegar – this is for cooking and making bulk salad dressing
Grapeseed oil
Olive oil
Assorted dried herbs
Chili flakes
Chili powder
Dijon mustard
Assorted dried beans
Assorted canned beans (for quick or unplanned meals)
Pepper (whole, ground through peppermill at will in an ideal world)
Tomato sauce

Fresh Ingredients to have on hand regularly (I will have in brackets what I usually go through in a week)
Beets (4)
Onions (5 or 6)
Carrots (2lbs)
Celery root (1)
Fresh fennel (1)
Lettuce (2)
Kale (1)
Savoy cabbage (1)
Red, orange and/or yellow peppers
Spinach(I buy bagged prewashed spinach because I hate washing spinach. I will often wash it again because I also hate gritty spinach. At the same time, I love spinach, and we go through 2 large bags a week, sometimes more when I cook it down)

The fresh ingredients are what I use regularly for salads, soups, tomato sauce and any braised dish. My base for tomato sauce and soup (minus the tomatoes) is a blend of sautéed onions, fennel, carrots, celery root and garlic.
My daily, workhorse salad is mixed greens (often including spinach) generously laden with grated carrot, grated beets, finely sliced fennel, sliced cabbage, diced peppers, chopped tomato and anything else kickin’ around that might taste good. Items like peppers and tomatoes are subject to price and if they look like they might taste good. This time of year they are often with-held from the salad.
This is a basic list. My pantry is actually embarrassingly overstocked. But the above list are the things that come to mind on a daily basis, many if not most you likely already have (I will understand if you don’t have the crazy expensive balsamic – it is a decadent item. Don’t invest in it unless you are feeling flush. Most of the recipes I’m going to have here will use the less expensive –read cheap – vinegar).
Let me know what you find indispensable in your pantry!

Work horse salad dressing
1/3 ratio of cheap balsamic to 1/3 grapeseed oil, to 1/3 olive oil (all olive oil sometimes makes the dressing to heavy tasting)
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
generous pinch or two of dried herbs - lately I've been using and Italian mix
salt and pepper
minced or grated clove of garlic

Put into a bottle, shake furiously, let sit for a little while for flavours to meld and soften - use. I fill up my recycled bottle to the top and it lasts a week, give or take a day. 

Here is a snapshot of the dressing with a glimpse of my kitchen for those who haven't been here.

Next post will be about cooking beans in advance so you are always ready to dramatically toss them into anything you are preparing. Oh yes, and how to make them taste good. 


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