When I asked my 12-year-old what he thought the bare minimum of pantry stocking should entail he said:
“Carrots, onions, garlic, potatoes, cheese, pasta, hot sauce, tortillas, eggs, lemons and maybe some fresh herbs.”
Granted he lives in a household with a cooking instructor/recipe developer where fresh herbs and lemons are considered basics, but it’s a good start. When you’re making your next grocery list, add these items so you can pull together a quick, healthy snack or meal. With the exception of the fresh herbs, the items all have a decent shelf life. Add some kind of nuts or seeds to the list—sunflower seeds actually— so you can make one of my favorite salads (see the recipe below) with items off the list.
You could also dice some onion, carrot, and potato and sauté in olive oil and then fry an egg on one side of the pan, top the vegetable hash with the egg and garnish with a little cilantro or parsley and voila, you have a fabulous meal with those basic items.
And your pantry basics will reflect your household’s taste. Grab broccoli or kale instead of carrots, quinoa instead of the tortillas. Check out the Stock That Pantry page for more ideas. But next time you’re at the store think about grabbing a few things for which you have no specific plan like a bunch of cilantro or bag of seeds or nuts. Then start adding those herbs or (toasted) seeds to salads, stir-fries, beans or grains and at least the herbs, to a simple quesadilla.
Grated Carrot Salad with Toasted Sunflower Seeds
Carrots are far from boring in this quick grated salad. Add the lemony-dressing and a handful of fresh herbs and you’ll be eating the whole thing by yourself standing at the counter.
You can add white beans to this salad for a more robust version. Make a little extra dressing and you have a great lunch or light supper.
With a fried egg or a simple frittata some bread, this makes a lovely dinner.
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (or pumpkin seeds) (this may seem like a lot but use it all if you can–it really makes the dish)
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 generous pinches of sea salt
4 medium carrots, grated
¼ cup chopped parsley, cilantro, mint or any other leafy green herb
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 350.
Toss the sunflower seeds with a teaspoon of oil and several pinches of salt and roast on a baking sheet for about 8 minutes, until they are crisp and golden. Set aside to cool.
Place the grated carrots in a serving bowl and add the herbs and toasted seeds. Add the dressing ingredients, toss well and taste and adjust seasoning with more lemon and/or salt, to taste.
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