It’s been over a year since I went to my local farmer’s market, which happens conveniently on Thursday evenings and is a mere 10 minute walk from home. I am embarrassed and ashamed, and there is no good excuse. There, I said it.
Cooking at home is a lifestyle, and it has to fit your schedule and your routine in order to work. And while we haven’t made enough time for the farmer’s market, we’ve made do with the four good stores that are within a five minute walk. We can even get farmer’s market-grade produce at one of them–at a premium.
And still, at the end of a long workday, toward the end of a long work week, Karl and I often regress to whatever’s in the pantry. We know this. And until we get our act together and head to the farmer’s market, we’re trying to make the pantry nicer. We have Indian simmer sauces, Italian bean soups in jars, really nice tins of trout fillets in oil for simple rice bowls with nori. Add in frozen paneer and naan, frozen scallops and veggies, frozen stock, and a few things we always have in the fridge (eggs, milk, scallions, kimchee, miso, etc…) and it’s possible to pull together a delicious, sometimes nutritious, meal quickly.
And when we’re really lazy, there’s pasta. Here we draw a line in the sand: we always make the sauce from scratch. A can of diced tomatoes. A desiccated garlic clove, haphazardly chopped. Are those artichoke hearts from the back of the fridge still good? Perfect. Throw them in. Splash in some leftover red wine from the other night. Capers. Lots of pepper.
But what brings the entire thing come to life–the secret ingredient–is the olive oil on top at the very end. Lately, I am smitten with Costa dei Rosmarini olive oil from Liguria. Beautiful and silky, it makes even the humdrum pantry pasta sing out with fruity flavors, evoking the Italian summer. I’m putting it on everything.
What’s your favorite pantry ingredient these days? How will you make it through this winter?