10 Ingredients that you need in your pantry for easy cooking
It can be difficult to find the time to go shopping many times a week with work and social commitments and sometimes we find ourselves at home very hungry, with limited time and few ingredients.
Andrea and I always have spare ingredients that work as a base for many recipes. This way, we can always prepare something fast, tasty, and different without going crazy when we’re having a hectic week.
These are the 10 ingredients that are missing in your kitchen with which you can create many different variations so that you never get bored with your homemade “fast” food.
PASTA AND RICE
Both pasta and rice can be enjoyed boiled with a sauce, in a stew, or cold in salads. Both can also be baked with the leftovers of another meal or with the ingredients that we need to finish.
As a child, I didn’t like them much. Fortunately, over the years I have become very fond of lentils and chickpeas. Both can be purchased dry and can be boiled after having soaked them overnight, or you can buy them ready to eat in a jar. They go very well with sautéed vegetables, soups, or you can turn them into a cream with oil and garlic and use it to spread a slice of bread or to eat raw foods.
SPICES AND HERBS
With spices and herbs, everyone can have fun since there are so many that you can’t even imagine! I have always used a lot of oregano, which is very common in Italy, fresh or dried parsley, pepper, saffron, sage, bay leaf, basil, rosemary, and scam for savory dishes. Since I was a child I have always loved cinnamon for sweets but over the years, I’ve opened up and experimented more and found that I love cinnamon in savory dishes as well. I’ve also discovered that I like to add basil and other herbs to desserts.
My kitchen is always full of the following, in addition to the ones I already mentioned:
Vegetables are equally wonderful: choose those that are in season and never fail.
If you don’t know what vegetables are in season in your city, you can search online or ask at the store where you normally buy fruits and vegetables. There are two reasons why it is always better to buy local and seasonal products: prices and taste. They will always be cheaper and taste fresh because they won’t have traveled from another destination.
My kitchen is always stocked with carrots: rich, raw, boiled, sautéed, ideal for a stir-fry, and a fresh and light snack for when I get hungry in the middle of the morning.
Spinach is also essential: rich in iron, it can be the base of many salads or a delicious filling for a savory tart. With tomatoes, peppers, and aubergine you never fail either: they can be roasted and enjoyed with a dressing, or baked stuffed.
For fruit, the same advice applies as for vegetables: local and high quality. Most fruit is delicious in a vegetable salad, or you can freeze it and use it to make refreshing smoothies. You should only keep an eye on where and how you keep them, you will find the mistakes you have to avoid in our post on Facebook!
Two of my favorites are tuna and sweet corn. Mixed together with a little mayonnaise they are the ideal filling for a light sandwich. I also like them a lot in a salad with tomatoes and olives.
With tuna and a little butter, you also have the perfect seasoning for a last-minute pasta: you boil the pasta and serve it directly on the plate with a little butter and a drained can of tuna.
MEAT OR FISH
Whichever you prefer. It can also be frozen and keep for a long time.
One tip: if you have time let them defrost at room temperature, it is always better than to defrost them in the microwave.
Sliced bread for emergencies is always perfect: you can use it for a quick breakfast, or a sandwich when you don’t have time to stop to cook a meal for lunch. Or even when you’re too tired at night and just want to grab a quick snack, you can make yourself a slice of bread with chickpea spread and spices.
Eggs are essential for me: a fresh egg, well beaten with sugar, is a delicious sweet snack for me.
Eggs can be:
Used to make a mayonnaise
Used to make an Italian frittata
If you eat eggs, the uses you can give them are endless.
Would you like something sweet for a snack or after eating, but don’t have time to prepare a dessert? It’s okay to “cheat”! Andrea and I always have a small tablet of our favorite chocolate when we don’t want to put in too much effort. And if not, there’s always fruit with a little sugar and lemon juice, and voilà.
Of course, the combinations are endless and depending on where you live and what you like, you can prefer one ingredient or another. These are the 10 ingredients that are never missing in our kitchen, which are an essential part of my Italian culinary culture.