by Alexa Weitzman from Sustainble Pantry
Keeping a stocked pantry is essential if you want to make good use of your CSA share. Since you often don’t know exactly what will be coming in the share, and let's be honest, when there are surprises we all want to pretend we’re on Iron Chef and pull out an awesome meal without having to swing by the store on the way home from pickup.
Take a look below to see the pantry items that I always have in my kitchen. While technically a pantry refers to just dry storage, I extend the meaning to include some refrigerator and freezer necessities. By setting aside shelf, freezer and refrigerator space to stock these items, you will be able to round out your 26-weeks of CSA deliveries into delicious, easy, fuss-free meals for your family.
Once you have these items stocked, here are some quick pantry dinner ideas:
· Eggs: You can make anything into a frittata, which is a thick baked omelet. I like to use anything in the onion family, along with any potatoes, plus peppers, zucchini, etc. Throw in cheese and you’re in business.
· Pasta: Really, anything can be a sauce for pasta. Since you’re already stocked up with canned tomatoes, you can simmer most any vegetable into a sauce for pasta.
· Roasting: the only pantry ingredient you use for this is extra virgin olive oil, but it’s the simplicity that makes roasted vegetables so good. Once you roast a big batch, you can use them in salads or on sandwiches. When in doubt: roast!
· Variety: You can always vary the taste of dishes with spices and herbs. Add cumin and turmeric to give vegetables an exotic flare, or simmer in coconut milk for a Thai inspired meal.
· Miso soup: Any vegetable can be thrown into miso soup for a soupped up version of this easy, healthy meal. Simmer vegetables in water, dilute miso paste, round out with some tofu or protein of choice, and voila!
And now, the pantry essentials:
Grains/beans: Brown short grain rice*, millet, quinoa, steel cut oats, rolled oats, cornmeal, basmati rice*, farro, dried lentils, dried split peas, dried beans
[*A note from Maggie - If you are trying to avoid arsenic in your rice, my research has found that Indian grown organic white basmati rice is your best bet. This is what I serve my kids, although we have dramatically decreased our rice consumption in recent years.]
Pasta/noodles: dried pasta (whatever shape you like), couscous, rice noodles, Israeli couscous, rice paper wrappers
Flour: all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, polenta/cornmeal, corn flour (very very finely ground cornmeal), garbanzo bean flour
Baking: baking powder, baking soda, granulated sugar, dark brown sugar, dark chocolate
Canned (in BPA free lined cans**)/Bottled/Packed: tomatoes, sardines, beans (we always have black, garbanzo and white), peanut butter, coconut milk, curry paste, anchovies, canned wild salmon, honey, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, capers, tahini paste, tomato paste
[**A note from Maggie - I try to avoid all canned products because even those labeled as "BPA free" can contain other similar chemicals which are just as harmful, like BPS. Instead, opt for tetra-pak or glass packaging of tomatoes, coconut milk and beans. Many brands are now moving away from cans entirely. This is progress!]
Spices: black pepper (in a grinder), kosher salt, cumin (ground and seeds), fennel seed, thyme, cinnamon (best to grind from sticks as needed), vanilla bean, vanilla extract, sesame seeds, nutmeg, curry powder, oregano, bay leaves, dried chili peppers (store in freezer), cardamom, turmeric, coriander, smoked paprika (sweet and/or spicy), ground ginger, rosemary, cayenne pepper, mustard seed, red chili flakes
Oils: extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, toasted sesame oil
Vinegars: rice wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar (without caramel flavor/coloring), raw apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar
Other condiments: dijon mustard, whole seed mustard, tamari, ketchup, mayonnaise, sriracha, hot sauce, fish sauce, real maple syrup
Freezer: organic peas, organic spinach, organic corn, organic fruit, edamame (shelled and whole)
Nuts, seeds and dried fruit: peanuts, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, almonds, shredded coconut, dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots)
Refrigerator: Miso paste, butter, hard cheese (parmigiano reggiano or pecorino), lemons/limes, eggs, ginger, carrots, cabbage
Dry storage: Onions (red, yellow), Garlic, Potatoes (idaho and sweet), Squash (hard-skinned squashes like acorn or butternut)
Alexa Weitzman grew up cooking and learned at an early age that good food comes from fresh ingredients. She has worked in the kitchens of some of New York’s finest restaurants, served as the chef at a small organic vineyard in Provence, France (best 6 weeks EVER!), and has stocked healthy meals in the fridges of busy New York families. Alexa has a BS from NYU in Studio Art and a MS from Touro College in Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture. She is a licensed acupuncturist in New York State as well as a nationally board certified Chinese herbalist. She teaches cooking classes emphasizing her style of easy, plant-based and nourishing recipes. Check out her Other Endeavors page for upcoming classes.