Are you a foodie? Do you love tasty ingredients? This is for you! Here are my top ten favorite ingredients I keep stocked in my pantry at all times. They will bring a swagger to your plate, ingredients that you can feel confident in serving. From my tried and true kitchen to yours, let’s count them down!
- I’ll start out with the star, my most favorite ingredient in my pantry: OMG Classic Barrel Aged Balsamic Vinegar. This is pure, thick, syrupy goodness stuffed into a bottle, which has been aged for a minimum of twelve year. With a sweet but balanced flavor, it is a must to have on hand for tomato season. It also makes delicious salad dressings, and is dreamy drizzled over strawberries sprinkled with a touch of brown sugar and sea salt. It is the most coveted item in my pantry, I hoard it, and my family knows not to touch it unless they ask me first, it is that good. Indeed, OMG. It is a bit pricey, but worth every single penny, and goes hand in hand with my second favorite ingredient!
- Olio Santo California Extra Virgin Olive Oil. There is a reason this is one of Ina Garten’s seven staple ingredients. This cold pressed oil is delicate, fruity, and truly delicious, the real deal! I use it as a finishing oil, for drizzling over Caprese salads, and, my favorite, putting out a small cup of this oil with a tbsp. or two of the OMG balsamic vinegar and sopping it up with a crusty French bread. Pure Heaven.
- The must have holy trinity of salts: Red Aalea Hawaiian Sea Salt, Maldon Sea Salt Flakes, and Caravel Gourmet Truffle Salt. Have I become a salt snob? Maybe. These salts are vastly different in taste, each of them worth the splurge to add to your pantry, and last quite a while (depending on your usage, of course). I came across the Red Aalea Sea Salt while visiting Maui a few years ago, and quickly fell in love. Its beautiful brick color comes from the sea salt mixed with red volcanic clay, and gives any pork dish a not-too-salty, delicious deep seasoned flavor. It is the only salt I use when I cook pork, and tastes ah-mazing! Caravel Gourmet Truffle Salt, where do I begin? I might write you a song to proclaim my deep and sincere love for you, I care about you that much. This is a fine sea salt infused with black truffles that makes fresh popped popcorn taste through the roof good. Seriously, so much better than the stuff you get at the theater. It is also tasty mixed into pasta dishes, and sprinkled over roasted vegetable to add extra flavor. So, so good! Maldon Sea Salt Flakes, another Ina Garten favorite, it is the gold standard for finishing a dish. Its perfect distinct flaky texture sprinkled on your favorite dish is a little luxury in your kitchen. A must have for your Emeril Lagasse-like BAM’s as you serve dinner.
- Oatly Barista Blend Oat Milk. I will profess my strange obsession with this brand. When I stumbled upon this product years ago, I was immediately over the moon smitten. It was not available to the masses yet, so I had to mail order it…And, the product was in such high demand worldwide, I had to stalk the website as it was sold out most of the time and when they did restock it, it would sell out within hours. Cue, the real tears. There is good reason the world loves their Oatly so much, because those of us that are dairy free, this is our milk. I no longer miss milk at all when I make my morning latte or add cream to my coffee. Milk will become a distant memory to you. This is the most perfect delicious substitute, and froth’s like a dream. No dairy, no nuts, no gluten, 100% Vegan and delightful. And, the branding is cute and funny; it is a great transparent company to support. They have recently made the move to production here is the US this year and have found their way onto store shelves (squee!!) so stalk your favorite specialty food store for this one, this is your golden ticket to enjoy thick tasty latte’s and mocha’s again.
- Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water. Do you love Gin and Tonic’s? Look no further, this is the mother of all tonics that puts all others to shame. Say goodbye to bitterness. This smooth, slightly floral, slightly sweet concoction is Gin’s perfect mate. They are best friends, you know, the ones you just a little bit jealous of? It will become the tonic you compare all tonics to. Your new favorite mixer!
- Harissa powder/paste. This spice mixture is one of my top three favorite spices of all time, hands down. I adore this spice blend. I use two forms of it in my kitchen, Harissa powder, and Harissa paste, and use them interchangeably. It has an unparalleled smoky deep spicy flavor that pairs well with many different ingredients, giving it a gentle heat. My most favorite food to season with it is potatoes. It takes them to a whole new level of roast-y toast-y goodness. It’s also incredible mixed in with ketchup for a sweet and spicy condiment, or mixed with olive oil into a basting paste for roast chicken. Super yum!
- Red Boat 40°N Fish Sauce. Not all fish sauces are made equal, and this sauce is the delicious proof. Ever tried a dish made with fish sauce and have found it to have an overpowering unappetizingly salty fishy flavor? This is your remedy! This sauce is sustainably sourced, made in small batches from first press black anchovies, and produces a mellow, buttery type finish. Sure, it is still a little salty, but the flavor is tamer, with a more rounded finish that will enhance your favorite dish with true umami-laden flavor.
- Trader Joe’s Mango Ginger Chutney. This budget-friendly condiment is your next secret weapon. A solid performer on a cheese plate, serve it up with slices of sharp parmesan cheese, crackers, and slices of crisp sweet apple, and make your friends swoon. Or, you can pour it over a brick of cream cheese, serve with crackers for an appetizer. Easy peasy! The sweetness of the mango is balanced out by the sharp ginger and red pepper to give it a sweet and slightly spicy finish. It can also be used in curries or spread onto a slice of bread with cream cheese and turkey for a tasty quick lunch. This chutney is divine!
- Aleppo Pepper. This beautiful spice is widely used in Middle Eastern Cuisine. It has a mild heat with a touch of fruity flavor and a cumin-like backbone. It imparts a satisfyingly deep rich flavor that that pairs well with those dishes you want to add “just a little bit more” too. Favorite uses are: sprinkled over eggs, whipped into dips, stirred into pastas, and dusted over slices of pizza. You will love this versatile spice, and will wonder how you ever did without it.
- Just Date Syrup. Yup, it’s exactly what it sounds like. The ingredients are just organic California dates, but in a tasty deep mahogany syrup form. Since dates naturally have a low glycemic index, it is a wonderful alternative to use to sweeten your favorite dishes or drinks. It has a not overly sweet, and has a rich, balanced, molasses like flavor with a fruity undertone. My favorite thing to do with it is to lightly sweeten plain yogurt before topping it with granola for breakfast, and also to give a kiss of sweetness to my tea. This is a lovely refined sugar substitute to keep on hand.
Now, it’s time to stock your pantry! Where can I find these awesome ingredients? Here are some links to get you started. Happy cooking, my friends!
- OMG! Oils: Balsamic Vinegar (Classic Barrel-Aged Balsamic Vinegar, 12.7 FL oz)
- Olio Santo California Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Cold Press, 500ml (16.9 oz)
- Hawaiian Pa’Akai Inc, Alaea Sea Salt Medium Grains, 16 oz
- Maldon Sea Salt Flakes, 8.5 ounce Box
- Italian Black Truffle Sea Salt – All-Natural Infused Sea Salt with Black Truffles & Truffle Oil from Italy – No Gluten, No MSG, Non-GMO – Cooking and Finishing Salt – 4 oz. Stackable Jar
- Oatly Oat Milk Barista Edition Non-Dairy Gluten Free, 32 oz (1 liter) – Pack of 2
- Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water, 6.8 Fluid Ounce – 24 per case
- Whole Foods Market, Organic Harissa Seasoning, 1.94 oz
- Harissa Condiment In Tube – Spicy 120 Gr
- Red Boat Premium Fish Sauce, 500 ml (17 oz.)
- Trader Joe’s Mango Ginger Gourmet Chutney Inspired By the Chutneys of India Great on Sandwiches , Hot or Cold Meats
- Villa Jerada, Premium Aleppo, Chile Flake From the Levant (Aleppo Pepper), 2.1 oz (Pack of 3)
- Just Date Syrup: Award-Winning Organic Date Syrup I Two 8.8 OZ Squeeze Bottles I Low-Glycemic, Vegan, Paleo
All Photos by Marla Smith Photography
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