Now that everyone has seen my dirty little panty secrets (e.g., malted milk powder, microwave popcorn, and a honeycomb from 2003) I thought it would be wise to create an ideal pantry list. If I were starting from scratch, what would I stock my larder with? I would want foods that I could use to create a whole meal in a pinch and foods that would complement the fresh ingredients I was using. Foods that I used frequently, and others that are always good to have on hand… just in case. Here’s what I’ve come up with, and I’ve offered two tiers: just the Basics and Step-ups for those of us who like more options:
Basic: Long pasta (like spaghetti) and short pasta (like penne or fusilli)
Step-up: Basic plus another interesting shape like orechiette, whole wheat pasta, small pasta like pastina or cous cous, rice noodles, and soba (buckwheat) noodles
RICE AND GRAINS
Basic: White rice and brown rice
Step-up: Basic plus jasmine or basmati rice, quinoa, farro, Arborio rice (for risotto)
Basic: White sugar, light or dark brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar, all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, bittersweet chocolate chips (thanks Megan!)
Step-up: Basic plus bread flour, cake flour, superfine sugar, molasses, cornmeal, gelatin, yeast, light and dark corn syrup
VEGGIES, BEANS, AND LEGUMES
Basic: Canned diced tomatoes, canned or tubed tomato paste, a couple cans of beans (e.g., chickpeas, pinto beans, black beans, or cannellini)
Step-up: Basic plus a variety of dried beans and lentils
FRUITS AND NUTS
Basic: Walnuts and/or pecans, almonds, raisins
Step-up: Sesame seeds, pignoli (pine nuts), dried cranberries, any other dried fruits and nuts you enjoy!
AND… panko, dried bread crumbs, oats, tuna canned in oil, and dried porcini mushrooms if you’re feeling ambitious.
Obviously this doesn’t include oils, vinegars, spices or anything to keep on hand in the fridge or freezer. We can play that game later.
Tell me what you like to keep on hand in your pantry and what I should stock up on!