Any chef or seasoned home cook is sure to have a few pantry staples they insist should always be kept on hand. These items are often the ones you turn to when you're in a pinch. Maybe it's too late to run to the store, or perhaps you've run out of something else, or you simply decide to switch up the dinner menu at the last moment. Whatever the reason, these items are your lifesavers, allowing for some pivotal flexibility in the kitchen. Emmy Award-winning television host and bestselling cookbook author Lidia Bastianich is no stranger to these situations and the importance of having a cleverly stocked pantry.
With her over 50 years of experience cooking professionally, fans of Bastianich will be excited to know, that in an interview with Eating Well, the Italian-American chef revealed her three must-have pantry ingredients and one of her choices just might surprise you. In the order she lists them in the Q&A, they are olive oil (a "good one" she specifies), canned plum tomatoes, and "a lot of legumes." And while that last one might seem unexpected to a beginner cook, you'll find any seasoned veteran of the kitchen has beans (or legumes) listed somewhere in their top 10 (if not top 5) list of must-have pantry staples.
Quality Oil, Plum Tomatoes, And Legumes
According to the interview, the multi-establishment restaurant mogul unsurprisingly relies on excellent quality olive oil and shelf-stable plum tomatoes, which she often uses in tandem, along with garlic in an array of chicken and seafood dishes, pasta, and even risotto. Bastianich gives a few examples of the legumes she always keeps on hand (including lentils, split peas, and dry beans) emphasizing their wonderful versatility. She also reveals that, among these, lentils may well be a legume of choice, as a simple soup made with lentils, celery, rice, and carrots is among her favorites. As Bastianich and others know well, legumes are a simple but integral part of any dry goods pantry, packed with protein, fiber, and chockablock with essential minerals for your body, as well as a delicious resource to have on hand. Pair them with rice and you have a complete protein, with each filling in the nutritional gaps of the other.
The chef also mentions a fourth go-to pantry staple on her Facebook page -- canned tuna packed in olive oil, which she uses in a variety of flavorful ways. Although you may have your own essential staples, taking a tip or two from a world-renowned chef in how they stock their pantries couldn't hurt your repertoire, expanding your options in a way you may have never expected.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.