Aida's Basic Pantry

Start with the basics, Aida suggests. Her picks include the following building-block ingredients.

Show: Ask Aida
  • Salt and Pepper: Choose freshly ground pepper. Store it in a grinder so you can get the punch of pepper at the last-possible minute.

  • Oil: Have both cooking oils and finishing oils on hand.

  • Acids: I always have a red wine and a white wine vinegar on my shelves.

  • Grains: I keep dried whole grains on hand, like buckwheat and barley, and I love quinoa.

  • Canned Beans: These can be used all sorts of ways and are inexpensive.

  • Pickled Vegetables: I love pickly brightening things, so I always keep cornichons, dill spears and capers in my kitchen.

  • Onions and Garlic: Have either of these, or both, stocked—they're the aromatics that are the backbone of so many dishes.

  • Good Pieces: Look for good ingredients, like really high-quality canned tuna. They can make a big difference in the flavor of your finished recipes.
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