Receiving a big box of a week's worth of fresh vegetables all at once can sometimes be a little overwhelming when it comes to meal planning; A well-stocked pantry is one of the secrets to making the most of your CSA bounty, enabling you to put together farm fresh meals on the fly without too many additional trips to the grocery store for extra supplies. Here are some of our own pantry essentials to help get you started!
Oils, Vinegars, and Sauces
First up are Oils, Vinegars, and Sauces! You will very likely already have most of these easy to find basics in your cabinet, but we'll include a few fun specialty items at the bottom in case you want to go on a new culinary adventure.
Oils: Olive oil, sesame oil, neutral tasting cooking oil (such as Canola)
Vinegars: Balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, white wine or champagne vinegar, rice vinegar
Sauces/Condiments/Pastes: Tahini paste, Miso, Soy sauce, Mustard (we love whole-grain Dijon), Maple syrup or Honey, Sriracha, Rice wine, Dry Sherry, Peanut butter
Ghee: Clarified butter with an incredibly long shelf life. Great for sauteing veggies or for adding a little extra rich flavor to cooked grains. (can be found in Indian markets as well as some standard grocery stores, OR you can make it yourself!)
Sambal Olek: A chunky vinegary souteast asian chili paste. Delicious in dressings, drizzled on eggs, grain bowls, or anywhere else where you want a tangy spicy kick! (can be found in asian markets and some standard grocery stores)
Dry & Canned Goods
If your grocery store has a bulk section this is a great opportunity to try out some new things! Buy your beans, grains, flours etc in small amounts at first to find out what you like the most and then stock up. Keeping a few jars of canned beans in your pantry is a great choice for when you just don't have time (or the desire) to cook dried ingredients.
For canned items we recommend checking the label to make sure that the can lining is bpa-free.
Legumes: Black beans, white Italian beans, red or brown lentils, beluga or french lentils (green or black), garbanzo beans
Grains: Long grain white rice, brown rice, wild rice, pearled barley, bulgar, quinoa, steel cut or thick rolled oats
Pasta & Noodles: Rice noodles, couscous, orzo, other favorite Italian pastas such as fettuccine, rigatoni, ziti, penne etc
Flours & Meals: Unbleached white flour, whole wheat flour or your own favorite whole-grain flour (we love dark rye!), grits or polenta
Legumes: Black beans, white Italian beans, garbanzo beans
Misc: Coconut milk, chicken or veggie stock, crushed or diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tuna or sardines in olive oil
Masa Harina: A Mexican/Latin flour made from ground hominy treated with lime water. Can quickly be made into a dough for fried cakes, dumplings, tortillas, and more!
Dried Kombu: A thick umami rich seaweed that can be added to beans during cooking to flavor and tenderize, or simmered in water to produce a delicious vegetarian stock. There are may different options for dried seaweed, if you are curious, here is a guide to get you started!
Soba Noodles: Japanese buckwheat noodles that cook up in no time (3min!) and can be eaten cold in salads or added to soups.
Basmati, Sushi, or Arborio Rice: We gave our basics, but there's a world of rice out there, and most cuisine's have a favorite.
Pink and Black Rice: Strongly colored rices that are usually sold only lightly milled (retaining most of their bran layer). Both have their own uniquely delicious flavor and are rich in minerals and antioxidants. Try mixing them in with white rice for textural variation.
Freezer & REFRIGERATOR
Hopefully most of the space in your fridge will be taken up with fresh fruits and veggies this summer, but the items listed below are essential for adding fat, flavor, or extra protein to your recipes.
Freezer: Shrimp, Bacon, Stock (we’ll share some simple recipes in our next post), meatballs, pre-seasoned taco meat
Refrigerator: Hard cheese such as Parmigianno Reggiano, Feta preserved in brine, jarred olives, plain greek yogurt, lemon juice, butter, eggs, salad dressings (we’ll share recipes for making your own in our next post)