Try These 8 Pantry Staples For Flavorful Winter Meals

Food editor Kristen Eppich shares her top winter pantry staples. 
Fall and winter is a great time to make use of your pantry. It’s time to put your spice cupboard to use and embrace the rich, earthy flavors that only a pantry can provide. Here’s a list of 8 items that are front and center in my pantry right now:

  1. Za’atar: Although some of the ingredients in za’atar may vary depending on the specific spice blend, it is traditionally composed of minced fresh thyme or oregano, ground cumin, toasted sesame seeds, ground sumac, coarse salt and pepper. It is fantastic on grilled meats and roasted vegetables and also sprinkled on yogurt to create a dip.

Try our recipe for Mustard & Za’atar Barbequed Turkey.

2. Dried Mushrooms: We tend to buy a package of dried mushrooms when we make mushroom risotto — but they’re good for so much more. Rehydrate these and add them to soups and stews for a great umami hit. Or, finely grind them and dust on popcorn or french fries.

Try our recipe for Porcini Braised Chicken Thighs.

Porcini Braised Chicken Thighs

3. Roasted Sesame Seeds: Sesame seeds bring two immediate things to any dish: nuttiness and crunch. The roasted variety that has white and black seeds mixed together are a personal favorite. Sprinkle over salads, smoothie bowls or even oven-cooked bacon.

4. Pink Peppercorns: You may have seen these appear in our September food story sprinkled over watermelon wedges. Pink peppercorns are dried berries that have an amazing sweet, floral favor. They crumble beautifully so I like scatter them over salads and dips.

Try our recipe for Watermelon With Spicy Crème Fraiche and Prosciutto.

Watermelon with Spicy Crème Fraîche and Prosciutto

5. Sumac: My love affair with sumac started on a trip to Dubai with Emirates Air. I thought I knew it, until I had true zesty, lemony sumac. Use it anywhere you want a lemony hit like in a salad dressing or over hummus. My favorite new snack is crusty bread dipped in olive oil sprinkled with sumac and some salt and pepper. Be sure to buy good quality sumac that’s free of dyes.

6. Tahini: Ever since I started exploring all the uses of tahini beyond hummus and tahini sauce I’ve become truly hooked. It’s incredibly versatile and I now blend some into my smoothies, add a few dollops into my brownie mixture for a nutty hit and love including some tahini into my banana bread recipe.

Try Tartine’s recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies.

7. Ghee: If you love butter, you’ll love ghee. Used in South Asian cooking, ghee is clarified butter that is simmered to remove the water and separate the milk solids. The amount of simmering imparts a subtle nuttiness. Use it anywhere you would use oil or clarified butter in cooking. It’s also reported to have some health benefits!

8. Fenugreek Seeds: Fenugreek seeds have extremely fragrant aroma when cooked. They are most commonly used in curry dishes and give off a tangy sweet flavor, with a hint of nuttiness like caramelized sugar. Toast them in a pan if using whole or grind them to a powder. Great with vegetable dishes or to use as a pickling spice.

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Author:
Kristen Eppich
Photographer:
  1. Kristen Eppich 2. Chris Court 3. Donna Griffith 4. Chad Robertson
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