I stock my pantry like I stock my wardrobe; I always keep some steady staples on hand that can be mixed and matched, and I supplement with seasonal items. More often than not, I feature the seasonal items in this space (right now I am keenly awaiting the return of peach season), but I thought it would be fun today to turn the spotlight on some of the basics. Here are 5 items I always keep in my fridge, that can easily elevate a dish or be put together to form a quick meal:
1. Eggs. As Therese pointed out in her post, eggs are a nearly perfect food. Not only are they the secret ingredient holding many recipes together (literally), but in and of themselves they can often make an entire meal. My husband excels at frying and poaching them (especially delicious over some cooked grains slathered in sauerkraut or creamed spinach), but we also love soft boiling and hard boiling them (I always keep a few hardboiled eggs in the fridge for a quick breakfast).
2. Greens. You are now quite familiar with my love affair with kale. In addition to using it in salads, I also bake it with eggs (see above), cottage cheese (see below), and some salt and pepper in a frittata of sorts, and stir fry it with garlic and tempeh. Sometimes, if I’m feeling really adventurous, I’ll put it in a smoothie. Broccoli is another standby. I always keep some steamed broccoli on hand because it can so easily be tossed into an omelette or eaten on its own. Spinach I throw in fist fulls into salads, omelette, and soups.
3. Dairy. I always keep yogurt, cottage cheese, ricotta, and feta on hand. Yogurt makes a lovely breakfast with a drizzle of honey, some fresh fruit, and a sprinkle of nuts (see below). I also love to use it in savory dishes (for example, as a garnish to a curried cauliflower soup). Cottage cheese is key in frittatas and can make a meal with said steamed greens, when drizzled with olive oil and dusted with fresh ground pepper. Ricotta can serve the same role, but I substitute olive oil for fresh lemon juice (see below). I also love ricotta with strawberries, honey, and sunflower seeds. And, okay fine, sometimes I’ll just eat it straight. Feta is crucial in kale salad, but also really rounds out any quickly thrown together dish – steamed broccoli with walnuts over grains…poached eggs over grains with spinach…spinach and olive salad…
4. Lemon. Not only is lemon a key ingredient in both kale salads I have mentioned so far, but it’s great drizzled over that steamed broccoli and ricotta I was mentioning. I squeeze it into hot water when I have a cold. You can even use it to clean your house!
5. Nuts. I eat nuts as snacks by the handful – on their own, or mixed with raisins. Cashews in particular (high in magnesium) are a great addition to a stir fry as well. Walnuts I love in salads or stirred into my oatmeal with pear, cinnamon, and honey, or in my yogurt (same for sunflower seeds). I store them in milk jugs to make use of the vertical space on the shelf.
How about you? What are your fridge staples?