20 Ingredients To Always Have On Hand

Originally from Caviar and Cashmere.

I’ve always loved to cook. I grew up watching my mom in the kitchen, who would make my family a great meal everyday. We sat down every night as a family at the dinner table with no distractions, just to enjoy each others company and the meal she had made. This was my favorite part of the day as a child. I was able to watch and learn how to cook great meals, enjoy delicious food and spend time with the people I love.

There is always something new to learn in the kitchen, but as well all know, life gets busy and sometimes (actually, oftentimes) it’s difficult to carve out time for that five-star gourmet meal.

A lot of us love the idea of a home cooked meal, but either don’t have the time to get the proper ingredients from the market, don’t have that one utensil that is crucial to the recipe, or lack the excess creativity after a crazed work day to decide what to make.

I recently took a class at Meal and a Spiel, a private cooking school in Beverly Hills based on the idea that anyone can learn how to cook. The instructor, Elana Horwich, is a young, vibrant woman who loves sharing her passion with her students. I had an amazing time learning from her. Elana’s approach is simple – with the right ingredients, love, and a little laughter, anyone can make a great meal.

I sat down with Elana after the class and was dying to know what she thought the 20 most essential ingredients are for someone to have in their kitchen at all times. I was inspired by the way that she improvised and creatively utilized ingredients she already had in her kitchen arsenal. Below she outlines which 20 ingredients are the most important to have on hand in order to make a great meal at any time. If you’re interested in learning more about cooking and are in the Los Angeles area, I suggest you take a class at Meal and a Spiel. You can use my code “CaitlynAndASpiel10″ for 10% off her group and private classes, now until the end of June 2015.

20 Ingredients To Always Have In Your Kitchen

  1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil. How to choose an olive oil? Click here.
  2. Salt. A more finely ground Kosher Salt, like Diamond Crystal, is perfect for all your basic cooking needs. A more special salt like Celtic or Maldon Sea Salt is a treat for final touches on your favorite foods.
  3. Organic Eggs.
  4. Fresh Garlic. Keep it on your counter, not in your fridge!
  5. Onions. Again, like garlic, not in your fridge! They will lose their flavor.
  6. Good canned tomatoes. Whip up pasta sauces and stew meats and chicken. How to choose good canned tomatoes? Click here.
  7. A Box of Organic Salad Greens.
  8. Radicchio. Turn any salad into a colorful and crunchy experience. Use the leaves to make wraps with your favorite meats, hummus, herbs and/or veggies.
  9. Cilantro. Add to salads, eggs, wraps, a taco.
  10. Dried Thyme. Use it for roasted salmon, roasted chicken, lamb, roasted potatoes and yams.
  11. Cucumber. Either Persian or English Hothouse.
  12. Raw Hummus.
  13. Sunflower Butter.
  14. Wine. You never know when guests might show up. A bottle of red and a bottle of Prosecco chilling in the fridge.
  15. Fresh Rosemary. Use it for roasting chicken, meat, and veggies. Toss in your stews. Stuff inside a whole fish. Take a piece and leave in a jar with balsamic for a week for an infused vinegar for salads.
  16. Quinoa. Cook it in a rice maker to make sure it does not burn.
  17. Tamari. Wheat-free soy sauce, great for stir-fries, quinoa, salads, roasts.
  18. Lemons. For a squeeze on top of steak, chicken, fish, or roasted cauliflower. Use the zest and juice in quinoa. Whip up lemonade for hot weather, or add ginger and raw honey to hot lemon water if you feel a cold coming on.
  19. Pasta. There is no last minute meal as soul nourishing as a good plate of pasta.
  20. Parmigiano Reggiano. The real stuff! Italian made.

TAGS: cilantro, cucumber, eggs, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, lemons, onions, parmigiano reggiano, pasta, quinoa, Radicchio, rosemary, salt, sunflower butter, tamari, thyme, Tomato, wine