It’s a Tuesday night and you’re feeling anxious about what you are going to whip up for dinner when you get home. You want something filling but with a little bit of greenery, right? Maybe some cheese sprinkled on top? Parmesan?
Well, you’re in luck, because if you keep these ten ingredients around, you’ll never run into this problem again. Not to mention, more than half of these items were recommended by a couple of local Brooklynites who know a thing or two when it comes to running a kitchen. Crown Heights’ own Chef Lawrence Lumetta of Mayfield and restaurant owner Yiming Wang of Williamsburg’s Birds of a Feather weigh in on their pantry must-haves.
For: Spaghetti Carbonara
If you don’t have a carton of eggs in your fridge right now, put them at the top of your grocery list. These babies are an essential in the kitchen, as they can be prepared in so many different ways. “My go to recipe if I don’t have anything and I’m in a pinch is spaghetti carbonara or cacio e pepe. Simple, easy and delicious!” says Lumetta. Get the recipe.
2. Tomatoes (fresh or canned)
The first thing that comes to mind when you see canned tomatoes is probably pasta, right? Do not underestimate their versatility, because they can be used for so much more! Try out this shakshuka recipe, which will make use of a lot of the other ingredients on this list as well. Get the recipe.
Who doesn’t love cheese? This creamy ingredient can be sprinkled, sliced, and placed on practically anything and it’ll taste delectable. When asked about his top items to keep in the kitchen, Lumetta says “if salt doesn’t count, I would go with a good quality Parmesan cheese.” Try this easy chicken recipe to experience dairy in its best form. Get the recipe.
4. Scallions and Onions
Onions may sound like a boring pantry staple, but the root veggies are key to adding flavor. Scallions, which Wang has on hand “at any given moment,” can enhance any Asian dish, including a simple and traditional, albeit delicious scallion pancake. Get the recipe.
5. Rice or Quinoa
As long as you have a grain in your cupboard, the world is your oyster. Rice and quinoa can act as a solid substitute for most pasta dishes, and are ideal alternatives for those with gluten sensitivities. This cheesy spinach pesto bowl won’t have you missing noodles, that’s for sure. Get the recipe.
6. Canned Tuna
For: Tuna Pasta Bake
A solid source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, this stinky ingredient is actually a good one to have on hand. In contrast to the last recommendation, we actually encourage the use of noodles (and lots of them) with this tuna bake recipe. Get the recipe.
Butter lettuce, romaine, spinach, kale, take your pick of greens. They’re all healthy and super handy when you need a helping of vitamins, minerals, and fiber in your diet. A smoothie is a great way to satisfy this craving in a pinch. Get the recipe.
Vinegar is a great condiment to keep in stock. Due to its multitude of varieties, you can use it in so many ways. Wang always has a bottle of zhenjiang vinegar at Birds of a Feather. “It has an intense and unique aroma. For me, it’s a must,” she says. Craving meat? Try the ingredient out on some ribs. Get the recipe.
There’s something so satisfying about making popcorn on the stovetop. It’s a great low-calorie snack and you can top it with anything from fresh herbs (cilantro is Wang’s favorite) to cheese to cinnamon. Get the recipe.
10. Chicken or Tofu
Whether you eat meat or not, some form of protein is important to keep in your refrigerator. Chicken and tofu are pretty different when it comes to texture, so it’s actually not as easy as you think to substitute tofu for chicken. Here’s a yummy recipe that’ll let you enjoy tofu for what it is: spongy, delicate, though able to take on any dish’s flavor. Get the recipe.
— Head photo: Pixabay.