Essentials for Quick & Simple Recipes

Essentials for Quick & Simple Recipes, Lay The Table

Over the next few months, I plan to build up a handy collection of Quick & Simple recipes. My goal is to spend no more than 30 minutes in the kitchen, while cooking from scratch and using as many fresh ingredients as possible. After a long day at work, speed and simplicity are of the essence.

Having a brilliant personal chef hasn’t helped me with either my cooking technique or confidence. I’ve been completely reliant upon the vegetarian husband to cook for me day in day out, so I’m quite out of practice in the kitchen.  Now that he’s going to be away on business for long stretches, I’ll have to fend for myself.

I’ve been going through the kitchen cupboards and fridge/freezer to make sure I’m stocked up with some essential ingredients, so that I don’t have to go food shopping until the weekends. As you can see below, with all these items (a mixture of Italian, Chinese and Japanese) that I already have, I’m well prepared to make most things. This is also more of an inventory for me, rather than a hugely expensive shopping list for you, but I’d love to hear what essentials you can’t be without!

Incidentally, there’s no wastage in this household as we’re great believers in cooking with leftovers and anything that needs using up, whether fresh or dried. I organise the contents of the fridge so that slightly older items sit on the top shelf, separated from fresher, more recently bought items. For soups and one pot dishes, ‘top shelf’ products are perfect. There is a lot of substitution as well, as recipes aren’t always (and shouldn’t be) followed ingredient for ingredient, otherwise too many barely used products pile up in the kitchen.

Essentials for Quick & Simple Recipes, Lay The Table

My Cupboard Essentials:

  • dried pasta (spaghetti, rigatoni, alfabete, stellete and orzo – pasta rice)
  • rice (vialone nano risotto, wild rice & basmati mix, brown basmati, Japanese)
  • dried noodles (soba, egg, rice, Chinese vermicelli)
  • dried & tinned beans (cannellini, butter, flageolet, borlotti, black)
  • lentils (red, green, puy)
  • couscous, barley & quinoa
  • dried tofu & boxed Japanese silken tofu
  • dried porcini mushrooms
  • anchovies, tuna, olives, salted capers & tomato purée in jars
  • tinned tomatoes
Essentials for Quick & Simple Recipes, Lay The Table

My Cooking Essentials:

  • garlic, ginger, shallots & onions
  • extra virgin olive oil & pure rapeseed oil
  • Maldon sea salt & normal sea salt
  • black & white peppercorns
  • fresh basil, sage, bay leaves, rosemary, oregano, parsley, green & red chillies
  • dried wild oregano
  • dried whole peperoncino & chilli flakes
  • white wine vinegar
  • rice vinegar
  • sake (drinking, not cooking) & mirin
  • Shaoxing cooking wine
  • soy sauce (light & dark)
  • sesame oil
  • organic honey
  • sugar (brown, white, caster)
  • cornstarch
  • dashi powder
Essentials for Quick & Simple Recipes, Lay The Table

My Fridge Essentials:

  • spring onions
  • carrots
  • celery
  • mushrooms
  • courgettes
  • spring greens/cavolo nero
  • watercress/rocket
  • vine tomatoes
  • lemons
  • Grana Padano (or Parmesan)
  • butter
  • milk
  • eggs
  • miso paste

My Freezer Essentials:

  • peas, soy beans, broad beans, spinach

Coming up over the next couple of weeks – 8 Quick & Simple recipes from the archive, pea & courgette risotto soup and winter vegetable soup.

See more Quick & Simple Recipes on Lay The Table.

@ Lay The Table

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