The pantry is an ever-evolving creature. As times and tastes change, so do the ingredients that we need to keep on hand. Stocking interesting items in our pantry means our meals can be delicious, adventurous and a lot more fun to prepare.
Here are seven items that have become must-haves in the Chatelaine Kitchen:
Hot chili-garlic sauce: This moderately hot sauce is a blend of garlic and chilies, and frankly is a star. It’s flavour is more interesting than a simple hot sauce and adds a layer of complexity to your dish. Whether you include it in your stir fries or incorporate it into one of your sauces, it is a real kitchen helper. A jar will last you at least a month and it will quickly become a favourite.
Try it: Crispy tofu with peanut sauce
Chickpeas: Switch out your boring pantry beans with this high-protein legume that is both delicious and versatile. No longer merely a salad bar staple, chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) have made their way into a myriad of recipes. They are excellent roasted on their own, in curries, sautéed or pureed, which is why you should always have some on hand. Gone are the days of fatty, cream-based veggie dips, pureeing chick peas with tahini into a lemony, garlicky hummus is the dip of the day.
Try it: Moroccan Hummus
Pepita (pumpkin seeds): Whether you’re looking for a little crunch in a salad, a new seed in your muffins or something to dress up your granola, pepita are a fantastic way to pep up a mundane recipes. Common in Mexican cooking, pepita can be found packaged as a snack, but are also delicious incorporated into many recipes.
Try it: Pecan-cranberry granola
Edamame: Tired of the same old frozen vegetables? Edamame is the perfect legume to keep stocked in your freezer. They are a great substitute for recipes that typically call for peas or beans, and offer a new twist to your frozen vegetables. Bright green in colour, loaded with nutrition and packed with umami, they don’t disappoint.
Try it: Radish and edamame saute
Quinoa: Quinoa is considered one of the new superfoods, and a must-have in the new pantry. Quinoa is high in fibre and is considered a complete protein, which is very unique for a plant species. It is therefore excellent to incorporate into vegetarian meals.
Try it: Hearty quinoa and bean soup
Curry paste: Curry paste can be a cook’s best friend on a busy night. It provides a lot of flavour – and fast. No need to mess with a variety of spices, choose from any number of high quality curry pastes available in your grocery store. A jar will last at least a month stored properly in your fridge. Stirred in with chicken, shrimp, tofu, fish and some vegetables and you have a fast and delicious meal.
Try it: Thai fish curry
Panko: Class up your breaded chicken breast – or anything you wish to bread by using panko. Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb that has a lighter, flakier more delicate texture than traditional bread crumbs. Sub it in for any recipe that calls for bread crumbs.
Try it: Crispy Dijon potatoes
Originally published November 8th, 2012.