my 10 kitchen mainstays

I am always interested to see what other people always keep in their kitchen.

  1. Full-fat ricotta cheese

This has been a more recent mainstay, but I just love ricotta. I have plenty of recipes that I love that feature ricotta (Smitten Kitchen’s baked ziti, the turkey and ricotta meatballs from Small Victories, etc.) so I love when I can buy a tub for a recipe and have leftovers. One of my favorite quick uses for ricotta is stirring it into a jarred marinara sauce to make a luxurious pink sauce for pasta. It totally transforms a bland store-bought sauce and makes it something special. It’s also the base of all delicious fancy toasts. Lately, I’ve loved toast spread with ricotta, topped with a smashed soft-boiled egg, and drizzled with honey and salt.

2. Dijon mustard

Obviously. As an emulsifier for salad dressings, a spread on sandwiches, or as part of a marinade, dijon is a real powerhouse. I love its flavor and go through jars constantly.

3. Brown sugar

I find myself using brown sugar all the time. I love it in my morning oatmeal and it’s also delicious on salmon when you mix it with the dijon mustard above!

4. Eggs

Another obviously. This is me.

5. Parmesan cheese

I have created a life in which, no matter how barren my pantry is, I can always–always–ALWAYS make an enormous bowl of cacio e pepe for myself.  Butter. Spaghetti. Parmesan. Pepper. I ALWAYS HAVE THESE THINGS. Trader Joe’s has great prices for their Parmesan because they keep the rinds on. This makes me feel better financially and if you keep the rinds, you can use them to flavor soups and pasta sauces.

6. Trader Joe’s frozen soup dumplings

I am so obsessed with these and I don’t even know if they’re actually that good. They keep me satiated when I am away from my one and only, Monkey King Noodle Company, whose soup dumplings I crave even when it’s 102 degrees.

7. Panko bread crumbs

Panko is a really easy way to make things a lot more delicious. I use panko the most in spaghetti pangrattato with crispy eggs and panko-crusted salmon, two dinner staples that are easy to make and pretty budget-friendly.

8. Salsa

My favorite salsa ever is Clint’s Texas Salsa, which, paired with crispy-thin, perfectly salted Xochitl tortilla chips…is close to a perfect meal. Salsa is essential for the easiest chicken tacos ever–boneless skinless chicken breasts, half a packet of taco seasoning, a jar of salsa, and a little bit of water in the crockpot on low all day. My mom introduced this “recipe” to me and it’s one of our favorites at home, one that I’ve just gotten to take with me to school after I got a combo rice cooker/slow cooker for Hanukkah. I also need salsa whenever I make breakfast tacos at home and it’s usually good on a rice bowl of some kind. Which brings me to…

9. Rice

Even more so now that I have my game-changing new rice cooker! I make a batch of rice that I keep in the fridge to reheat (and often make it crispy— seriously amazing). Easy, filling, endlessly adaptable in combination with so many of the other ingredients on this list.

10. Garlic

I am incurably obsessed with garlic. I literally don’t think anything could be too garlicky for my little taste buds. It is seemingly the base of every dish I make. I love garlic’s versatility: it can be made sweet and succulent by cooking it in olive oil, it can be rubbed on toast for an easy upgrade, and it can even be smashed into submission to make a salad dressing! I made spaghetti aglio e olio for the first time the other night and cooked it with 6 cloves of garlic (quadruple the suggested  THIS IS ME!). I will always always have it.