The Well-Stocked Italian Kitchen Pantry


Photo credit by Deana Romano

One of the major challenges of almost any home chef/cook would be how to keep a well stocked pantry.  I’m not talking about buying lots of canned goods in case of emergency or disaster, although for some of us, there are times our first choice menu item doesn’t turn out and dinner becomes both an emergency and a disaster!  No, what I mean is for a good cook to be able to make a good meal most any time, there are certain must haves in your pantry and kitchen. This is my basic list and of course completely interchangeable for your own needs and tastes. And it’s not comprehensive either because so many other food items can be added again as needed or preferred.

Canned goods:

Tomatoes-whole plum, crushed, puree, diced and mixed with chilies

Beans-White such as cannellini and garbanzo, pinto and kidney (light and dark red)

Olives-Black and green

Artichoke hearts-whole and quartered in water

Tuna- in water and in olive oil (although I am just starting to experiment with tuna in olive oil)

Evaporated milk

Broth-chicken, vegetable or beef

Bottled goods:

Hot sauce

Capers

Salsas

Vinegar-balsamic, red wine, white and apple cider

Olive oil-either in cans or bottles-keep a variety of kinds i.e. extra virgin and light for different uses

Canola or sunflower oil

Wine-white and red varieties (don’t use cooking wine for recipes, use drinking wine)

Non-perishables:

Dried pastas-spaghetti, cappellini, lasagna, farfalle, penne and orzo

Rice-Arborio and long grain white

Cornmeal

Cornstarch

Flour-unbleached all-purpose and bread flour, semolina for pasta making

Baking soda & baking powder

Yeast-in packets or a jar (once you open the jar, put it in the fridge)

Cake mixes

Sugar-white, brown and powdered

Honey

Vanilla-use real instead of imitation when possible

Breadcrumbs-plain and seasoned

Oatmeal

Seasonings:

Salt-Kosher, sea salt and table salt

Pepper-white and black whole peppercorns and a grinder

Basil

Oregano

Parsley

Rosemary

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Thyme

Sage

Poultry seasoning

Bullion cubes-chicken and beef

Paprika

Chili powder

Cumin

Crushed Red Pepper flakes

Perishables:

Garlic-several heads at all times

Onions-white, sweet and red

Potatoes

Carrots

Celery

Tomatoes

Lettuce-romaine and iceberg

Lemons and limes

Cheese-romano, parmesan, mozzarella, cheddar (mild and sharp), fresh mozzarella and cream cheese

Ricotta cheese-full fat

Butter

Milk

Whipping cream

Sour cream

Frozen vegetables

Frozen bread dough

If I have most of this list on hand, I can quickly come up with many different meals. Some would only require a few ingredients while others would require more. I hope this list helps when it comes to deciding how to stock your pantry and kitchen.

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