“Having done extensive food research as someone who happens to eat every day, I have compiled a list of ten items that I feel every kitchen deserves.”
When doing a grocery shop, I like to look for items that give me versatility in the kitchen. Having done extensive food research as someone who happens to eat every day, I have compiled a list of ten items that I feel every kitchen deserves. These items are not stand-alone. With them you still need your basic carbs, vegetables, and proteins. But they might add a bit of jazz to your cooking, making the weekly mundane meal a touch more exciting.
An often overlooked vegetable, courgettes have a wide array of applications. Their high water content makes them great in soups and they can be roasted slowly with spice to be flavourful. You can also eat raw courgettes, finely sliced into a mixed salad or even made into courgetti. They are ludicrously healthy, containing a large amount of vitamin C, and are a nice change to just eating lettuce and bell peppers all the time. A nice fresh vegetable that has underrated versatility. The only thing to note is that they are going out of season fast so make sure to get them when they are in stock now.
This is my favourite chilli sauce. It is just spicy enough that you feel some warmth, but not so much so that it is overpowering. It is great as a glaze when your meat is nearing completion in the frying pan; it can be added to chilli con carne to add depth and kick, or mixed with mayonnaise to create a dipping sauce for whatever you may fancy.
Balsamic Vinegar is often used in salad dressings and it does that job very well — I eat salad exclusively for that sweet and sour kick — but it also has such a deep flavour that it can add richness to any sauce if added in early and cooked slowly. My personal favourite use for balsamic vinegar is to add a bit in when cooking any red onions; it caramelizes them, adding a tangy sweetness. A little bit goes a very long way.
Sweet potato fries (from frozen)
Sweet potato fries are undoubtedly delicious and a great alternative to the average chip, providing more nutrients and vitamins. When bought from frozen they are cheaper but can also be quickly rustled up on those cold weeknights when all you want is chips.
An often overlooked flavouring, celery salt provides a richness and saltiness to your dish. The flavour is quite far removed from celery itself but it is an excellent seasoning for vegetables.
Happy Pear fresh pesto
Happy Pear pesto sauce is healthy, delicious, and has so many applications in the kitchen. Pasta is such a staple in the student diet. Flavouring it with this fresh pesto goes a long way as it has a vibrancy and freshness that many jarred pesto’s don’t. Don’t limit its use to pasta; pesto sits nicely on top of roasted veg, delicately flavors a salad, and also seasons soups.
“The Spanish brother of pepperoni, chorizo has a phenomenal flavour and many supermarkets now make own-brand versions, so it can be found inexpensively.”
The Spanish brother of pepperoni, chorizo has a phenomenal flavour and many supermarkets now make own-brand versions, so it can be found inexpensively. It has a smoky sweet flavour of paprika, so brings a new level to tomato sauce, a carbonara or even a fajita mix. Make sure to cook it first in the pan then add its accompaniments to absorb its flavoursome oil. I personally love to have it with my scrambled eggs in the morning too.
Lao gan ma
A brilliant chilli oil that adds a delicious spice to any dish, it can be added to sandwiches or wraps to give them a real kick or can be simmered slowly in a sauce to add layers of rich and deep spice. Brilliant for salad dressings too, this chilli oil is excellent and affordable, a worthy addition to your kitchen. It differs from other chilli sauces as it is a fermented chilli sauce so it has a real complexity and is often used in China simply mixed with white rice to give it a massive flavour boost. It can be found in any of the bigger supermarkets and I know that Tesco stocks it in the asian section.
This nutty spice mix is great for sprinkling on top of any savoury dish to give it an extra zing of flavour and texture. Made from ground sesame seeds, nuts and savoury spices, it adds earthly undertones which compliment other flavours nicely without being overwhelming. A traditional Eyptian spice mix, it is used to coat meats, but I personally love to use it as I would chopped peanuts on a curry or in wraps. Either way, it is a brilliant simple flavour booster.
A great alternative to rice or pasta, quinoa is very healthy, containing all nine essential amino acids. It can always be eaten in place of couscous or rice, or cold in a nice fresh salad. Some people even like to have it sweet with honey for breakfast.
With these ingredients and a few others you should be able to make this recipe, which I personally found to be delicious.
Spicy Pork (or another other protein) with quinoa, sweet potato fries, and salad
“It can be marinated long term but I recommend around two hours in the fridge because it lowers the risk of forgetfulness.”
Marinate your pork, though the recipe would work with chicken, or maybe even mushrooms or tofu, in a mixture of your chilli oil, a clove of garlic, and some paprika. It can be marinated long term but I recommend around two hours in the fridge because it lowers the risk of forgetfulness.
- Cook the sweet potato fries according to the instructions on the packet. Season with salt, pepper, garlic granules, and some sage if you have it. Meanwhile finely chop one red onion, quarter some cherry tomatoes, and roughly chop your lettuce.
- Add some neutral cooking oil to your pan and put it on medium-low heat, add half your onion and your pork chops. Add some crushed chillies and celery salt. To assemble the salad, add the other half of your onion, your lettuce, and tomatoes into a bowl. I add just a teaspoon of Lao gan ma, balsamic vinegar, and some celery salt to really give it a nice fresh kick.
- Continue to cook your pork chops on medium-low heat for around 12 minutes, then finish them off with 1-2 minutes on high heat to develop a nice crust. Now it is important to note that your pork may take longer, or shorter depending on the size of the cut and just how hot your pan is. Make sure it is cooked all the way through. Remove sweet potato fries when they’re done.
- Finish pork chops with a squeeze of lemon juice, and serve with microwaved quinoa, your lovely fresh salad, and your delicious sweet potato fries.