Monday, February 6, 2012

Top 10 Go-To Ingredients.

Last week I mused about leeks being one of my always-on-hand, go-to ingredients, and wondered just how typical that is as a go-to item.  That prompted some readers to ask what the rest of my go-to ingredients are.  This post is dedicated to those items that you will almost always find in my refrigerator, freezer, and pantry.  There are certainly others, but these are the ones that I think of as my go-to list. What's on your list?

  1. Berries. Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Not sure my fruit drawer is ever without them. I use them in all kinds of dishes, including as a sauce for grilled fish or chicken, in salads, and straight from the box.
  2. Leeks. The item that prompted this post. Love them.  Soups, salads, with potatoes, baked with chicken or pork, on pizza.
  3. Fresh herbs.  I am a cilantro & Italian parsley junkie and I have basil & mint growing in my kitchen window.  For Christmas I received this awesome herb keeper that more than doubles the life of fresh herbs.  I use fresh year round if I can.
  4. Onions. Red are my favorite, but a sweet yellow onion caramelized and tossed with a balsamic reduction is almost a meal in itself. I use onions liberally.
  5. Balsamic Vinegar.  Really good balsamic vinegar. I am spoiled to have discovered this amazing 25 year balsamic available five minutes from home. I use it on everything. Green beans? Toss with a little parmesan & balsamic.  Fresh nectarines?  Sea salt & balsamic.  Baked chicken?  Lemons & balsamic.  Yep, I'll try it on anything.
  6. White Beans. I don't use a lot of canned goods, but beans are a staple, especially canellini beans.  I use them in soups, salads, & side dishes, and they make a great thickener for a soup or stew.  I also like them with a little garlic, sea salt, and lemon.
  7. Plain Greek Yogurt. With a lactose intolerant eater in my life, I use a lot of yogurt in place of sour cream.  Stir it into stroganoff, top baked potatoes, use it in baking. Or just eat it from the container with some of those berries mentioned in #1 above!
  8. Whole Grains. Quinoa, brown rice, and wild rice are tops on my list. I've recently discovered some terrific frozen whole grain sides that make it super easy to include these in any meal.
  9. Lemon. I use a lot of fresh lemon & fresh squeezed lemon juice. Limes are pretty abundant in my fridge too. Nothing brightens a vegetable dish or fruit salad quite like a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime.
  10. Frozen Boneless Chicken Breasts. From freezer to oven, straight into the soup pot, or into the skillet, frozen chicken breasts are versatile and easy to work with. 

There you have it. My top 10 go-to list. I'd love to hear what's on your list!

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