There is nothing better than a spicy chicken curry on a cold day, with a warm roti to soak up all the gravy, or spaghetti and turkey meatballs for those days when you just craving something different. We all have different dishes that we turn to depending on our mood, cravings and even the weather. One thing that is undeniable is that food creates emotions in us and store memories that come to mind with each dish.
When I was younger, I loved eating. With great food, often came a great amount of dishes and with no dishwasher, that responsibility usually fell to me. Getting a dishwasher was one of the best choices we have ever made and it has changed my love of cooking for the better. I love experimenting with new dishes that put a new spin on an old favourite, or just trying out different spice combinations to achieve a different taste. Over the last few years, I have picked up quite a few new skills as well as which products I should always have on hand.
- Pasta. Living in Italy, it is impossible to not stock up on some of the many pasta types available at an extraordinarily affordable price. Pasta is a staple here and is usually a lot cheaper than rice or any other starch. My pantry always spaghetti, linguine, lasagne sheets (I usually plan to buy this fresh but I have the boxed sheets as well just in case!), and penne rigate (the penne quills with the ridges tend to hold the sauce better than the smooth penne).
- Rice. Rice has always been a staple in our home. Back in our home country, rice is a staple and is usually quite affordable and comes in a wide variety. Here in Italy, while there are a few varieties, we have chosen to stick with basmati rice because of the time needed to cook it and the taste. It is one of the more expensive variants in South Africa over the usual long grain parboiled rice.
- All Purpose Flour. What can’t you make with AP flour? I use flour to make roti and sometimes biscuits. Banana bread is something I usually end up making because my husband always buys bananas and never ends up eating them all before they turn brown.
- Potatoes. I saw a picture on Facebook a few days ago couldn’t help sharing it with my husband. The picture was about potatoes and how we should all be thankful that we can make so many different dishes with them. My husband likes to add them to curries, and I prefer them to be boiled until soft and then roasted. Adding potatoes to a meal is a way to make them more hearty especially if you don’t really feel for rice or pasta.
- Oil. This one is quote obvious. We usually have Extra Virgin Olive Oil as well as sunflower oil and while we don’t usually use oil to make everything, there are certain foods that just need oil. I usually add some olive oil to my cooked pasta to add a bit of flavour.
- Sugar. I love my coffee in the morning with a bit of brown sugar added to it. When I go somewhere and all they have is white sugar, I can definitely taste the difference. I can’t remember exactly how or why I switched to brown sugar but I definitely know that I prefer the taste of brown sugar to white sugar. With that said, I always have both in my pantry because I do prefer to add white sugar to my baking instead of brown (unless the recipe calls for brown).
- Passata. For those of you who may not know what this is, it is basically tomato puree and I use it in almost every dish because it is affordable and saves a lot of preparation time. Before, we used to buy the tomatoes, peel them, blend them and store them in the correct portion size per meal and freeze them in tiny tupperwares. Once I discovered passata, it changed my whole life when cooking so many meals.
- Soy Sauce. Before you think I am crazy, hear me out first. I have found a marinade that works perfect for any meal I am trying to create (usually with chicken). Soy sauce, BBQ sauce, ginger and garlic, some ground chilli, and some cajun spice. This is my go-to marinade whenever I am in a hurry to get out of the kitchen. Marinade is always better overnight but I have found that this one seems to work well in an hour as well. Also, sushi and soy sauce is life!
- Herbs and Spices. I have a plethora of spices in my kitchen cupboard ranging from my indian spices (which I usually use with curries) to my herbs like thyme, oregano, basil and rosemary. All you need to do is add some rosemary and thyme with a bit of salt to roast potatoes to elevate them into a tasty side dish. Various herbs and spices have always made many dishes taste delicious no matter how simple they are.
- Frozen Broccoli. My favourite vegetable, I usually stock up on frozen broccoli because I eat at least 2 cups a day. It is okay to eat broccoli everyday, it is packed with fibre and many vitamins and other nutrients and it is such a versatile vegetable. I also recently discovered that you can make a pizza base with broccoli in the same way as cauliflower. My mind was blown.
- Meat and Fish. There are no vegetarians under this roof! I like to make sure that we have enough meat and fish stocked up in case I cannot get to the shop over the weekend and need my weekly groceries to last a little longer.
- Milk. Who doesn’t love a cappuccino in the morning? We have a coffee machine but sometimes I just need more froth! I always have whole milk available for that! On warmer days I do tend to opt for a smoothie and I tend to lean towards almond milk for that so I make sure I always have enough of both handy.
These are my all season staples for the majority of my meals. What do you have in your pantry? I would love to hear below!
-The Uninspired Blogger