Ever find yourself looking through the refrigerator or pantry and realizing you’re down to your last bit of food left from your grocery trip from this past week, and all you have left is some pasta or frozen shrimp to whip up for dinner?
Life gets busy and sometimes you don’t have time to run to the store and you just need to finish off what you already have in the house. I find that keeping some staple ingredients in your refrigerator and pantry could not only be a great addition to any dish, but also comes in handy when you are down to whatever ingredients are needed to be made before they go bad.
Of course you have your staple ingredients such as butter, olive oil and salt and pepper on hand. However , these 5 ingredients I love to keep in my kitchen because it can blossom any meal making it rich of flavor especially when I’m cooking something so simple.
Peppers & Chiles: If you’re like me you love spicy food. My spice cabinet is full of hot sauces and seasonings to spice up any dish. However, being that I prefer to cook with fresh ingredients I do like to have some sort of pepper or chili on hand. My favorite would be a fresh jalapeño pepper. From my scrambled eggs to a juicy cheeseburger, adding that fresh jalapeño gives it the nicest kick. During the summer time while the grill is actively being used you can throw some peppers on it to give it a heightened flavor to mix it up!
Fresh Garlic: Fresh Garlic is a MUST in my household. I use garlic in almost everything I cook so keeping it stocked is my only option. I love that you can use garlic in so many different ways and each way brings out the flavor differently. If you have some extra time on your hands before making dinner, take a whole garlic and cut just the top off. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt on the top. Cover garlic in foil and bake at 350 degrees fahrenheit for one hour and fifteen minutes and you have yourself the most amazing roasted garlic.
Citrus: Every season calls for citrus! Whether it be in summer and you’re making some fish tacos and squeezing a fresh lime over it, to your thanksgiving dinner during fall and you are filling the cavity of the turkey with lemon, onion and celery. Citrus is a great flavor to add to any meal. The flavor not only from the juice but the zest of the peel takes your dish to a level of freshness that a typical seasoning can’t necessarily do. A great morning routine for me is adding some fresh lemon with mint to hot water and you have yourself a great natural detox!
Wine & Beer: Although enjoying a great glass of red wine after a long work day is sometimes just what is needed in my household, that is not why I added this to my list of ingredients I always have on hand. Cooking with wine and beer is one of my favorite things to do. Wine is a great addition to any sauce you are making such as a Bolognese or garlic lemon and butter sauce. You want to allow the alcohol to cook out before you serve it, this brings the flavor of the wine itself to shine. You don’t need much depending what you are making however, it really does make all the difference. Beer is another great liquor to work with. One of my favorite ways to use beer while cooking is as a “broth” for meat. Pouring a bottle of Heineken over pork butt and cover in spices and herbs. two hours at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and you have yourself a juicy, tender, mouther watering piece of pork that doesn’t make it to leftovers.
Fresh Herbs: Last but certainly not least is keeping some fresh herbs on hand. Just like citrus fresh herbs provide a flavor of freshness that you won’t necessarily get when its in dried form. From cilantro to sage each herb gives you a different flavor that can be used in almost every dish. To have a longer shelf life of fresh herbs, fill a tall glass of water and put the herbs with the root in the water and place in the fridge! One of my favorite herbs would be sage. Melt butter on medium low heat on the stove, add minced garlic and stir just until fragrant about 1-2 minutes, add in some fresh springs of sage. The flavor is incredible yet so simple. Add your sauce to some baked cod and you have yourself a dish you wish you made more of.
These 5 ingredients are a great addition to any dish. Next time you are at the grocery store stock up on some new staples that you’ll soon consistently keep on hand. What are your staple ingredients that you keep in your refrigerator or pantry?