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Chef Chats: Pantry Must-Haves

Our team shares what staples they stock their kitchens with!

Hannah Gerety: Can of Crushed Tomatoes

“I always keep a few cans of crushed tomatoes in my pantry. It's perfect to make a quick, delicious, homemade marinara and adds depth to a hearty chili or stew!”

 
Joanne Smart: Tube of Tomato Paste

“Because so many recipes seem to call for just a tablespoon or two of tomato paste, I keep a tube of imported tomato paste on hand. That way, instead of opening a whole can of paste and either wasting or freezing what remains, I can squeeze out just what I need from the tube and then just pop the cap back on.”
 

Oliver Meder: Chili Crisp

“I always have a jar of chili crisp in my pantry that I add to just about anything from chicken noodle soup, to scrambled eggs and toast. Chili crisp is a garnish used in many Asian cultures to finish dishes. It adds so much umami and delicious flavor to whatever you put it on. You can make your own from scratch, or you can get it from your local Asian grocer.”
 

Michael Tropeano: Tabasco Hot Sauce

“Tabasco is the perfect ingredient to add to any meal. With just a few dashes, it can provide some acid, heat, and smokiness to a dish. The burst of flavor from the combination of red pepper and distilled vinegar aged over time will increase the complexity and the depth in the dish.” 

Sarah Breckenridge: Thai or Chinese Fried Shallots

“I use these shallots to add a crunchy garnish to stews, Thai curries, or rice pilafs. I also sometimes whip up a super-quick version of creamy onion dip by stirring them into a mixture of Greek yogurt and creme fraiche.”
 

Joelle Battista: Sofrito

“I blend together raw red peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro, and olive oil, and pour it into ice cube trays and freeze it. Any time I make beans or chicken and rice, I sauté up some cubes of sofrito before adding in the rest of my ingredients and it is a game-changer! It adds so much flavor to any dish and is so easy to prepare!” 

Anna Behnke: Can of Crushed Tomatoes

“Crushed tomatoes are a pretty blank slate and can be seasoned and spiced up to meet any dinner craving. Need a quick sauce to go over your pasta? Throw in some garlic, onion, and herbs to make the perfect marinara. Longing for some Indian food? Kick it up with a blend of spices, and you have another solid meal. The possibilities are endless: shakshuka, Pomodoro sauce, hearty chili, and, of course, tomato soup.”