Spring is here! Well almost anyways. I’m so excited to hear the birds chirping in the mornings, longer days and don’t even get me started on all the fresh produce that’s coming to the Farmer’s Market. And because the change of season is always a good time to de clutter and reset in the kitchen I thought it’d be fun to talk about pantry staples for Spring. If you’ve been here for a while you know how important I think it is to have a stocked pantry. It helps make cooking at home so much easier, less overwhelming and let’s face it more fun because you can get creative with what you have onhand.
Now I know at the same time if your pantry is looking pretty sparse it can feel like a really big job to get it stocked up when you’re starting from scratch. I’ve got you my friend! I’m pulling together a simplified pantry capsule let’s call it for each season so you can do it over time. Think of it like a fashion must haves for the season except for your kitchen! Fun, right?!
So let’s dive into the first one for Spring!
Olive Oil - more fresh produce at the Farmer’s Market means more salads. And you always want to have a good olive oil for your homemade dressings. You want to invest in a good one because you’re not heating it which means you want good flavour so if you can get a separate one for dressings and another for cooking. Also if you have the opportunity to taste before you buy it's worth it because they’re all so different so is your own taste; some have a really earthy flavour while others are buttery and smooth. The best are sourced from Italy, Greece or Spain and always make sure they're 100% olive oil. Some companies are tricky and add it other things if you don't double check.
Grapeseed Oil - this is the perfect all around oil for cooking. It’s super neutral in flavour and has a really high smoke point which means it’s good for pan searing fish or using for roasted veggies.
Apple Cider Vinegar - Something else to keep on hand for making homemade salad dressings, or add in a marinade to tenderize your meat before cooking. I also use a splash of it when I’m poaching eggs. It’s the best to keep the eggs from separating in the water. My favourite brand is BRAGG
Kosher Salt - this is what I always have beside the stove. Salt is your best friend and for me, kosher salt is the best to use of cooking. I like the Diamond Crystal brand but whichever you can find is great. Kosher salt tends be a larger size which make it easier to learn how much to use, it also sticks better to ingredients so you can see what you’ve put on things.
Mustard - I love mustard because it can be used for so many things - in a salad dressing, as a marinade, on sandwiches, or brushed on meat with a little maple syrup before baking or grilling. I use the stoneground variety but dijon is also great to have onhand. Make sure to check the ingredients on the brand you choose those. Look for ones that the ingredients are pretty much mustard seeds, vinegar and salt or close to that. There are lots out there that add chemicals and sugar which I just don’t think is needed.
Coconut Milk - I always have a few cans of coconut milk in my pantry. Another super versatile ingredient. You can use it for curries, add to chia seeds for a breakfast pudding, throw in smoothies with your favourite fruit, you can even whip it up or freeze it for a quick and easy dessert.
Orzo - if you’ve never tried this type of pasta before, now’s the time. It’s similar to the size of rice and is perfect to cook up ahead of time to have in the fridge. It works great for pasta salad with tomatoes, feta cheese and cucumbers or whatever you’d like really. It’s also perfect as a side dish heated with some asparagus, peas and lemon. You can find this at any grocery store with the pasta.
Canned Tuna In Olive Oil - If you always buy your tuna packed in water, please, please, please try something different. Tuna in olive oil really is a revelation! Something I discovered waaaay later than I should have. The tuna stays moist and flavourful and works like a dream in a sandwich or on pasta (which you can try my one pan pasta HERE), in salads or seriously just on it’s own mixed with lemon, fresh herbs and served with veggies and crusty bread. I usually buy the RIO Mare
Chickpeas - If there’s any type of beans to always have on hand these are it. Chickpeas work well in curries or stir fries, you can bake them up until they’re nice and crispy and have as a snack or on top of salads. They’re great in pasta salad, mashed up and served as a side dish, or as a quick stew (my favourite quick & easy one is HERE). And if you’re feeling it, you can even go as far as making your own falafel….which is easier than you think, I promise.
Fresh Herbs - now I know this doesn’t technically count as a pantry staple but especially for Spring and Summer having fresh herbs on hand is the one thing that can make your food go from good to great! There’s just something about the flavour and colours of fresh herbs. My favourites are basil, italian parsley, cilantro, rosemary, tarragon and oregano. Add these to your salads, in marinades, mixed with mayonnaise for sandwiches, or as a finishing touch to pretty much anything. The trick to keeping your herbs fresh longer is to put them in a glass of water like you would flowers and store in the fridge. If you do it this way they can last up to a couple weeks. Or grow your own! It’s so easy and you can pretty much grow them anywhere. In pots in your kitchen window, in any outdoor space, or there’s even little self sustaining kits you can get that will grow anywhere!
I hope this helps you get your pantry started. And if you're feeling adventurous, you can grab my full pantry list HERE and start building on so you can cook anything just from looking in your kitchen cupboards.