sauces + dressings

basic pantry list

This is a list from which meals are made.  Keep most of these items on-hand and I PROMISE you will rarely be at a loss for what to cook.  Five minute meals, 30 minute feasts, lavish dinner parties all start HERE. I also cannot stress enough the importance of high quality products.  Please see my "shop" page for harder to find ingredients.

dry storage

oils: olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed, canola, coconut, toasted sesame

vinegars: red wine, balsamic, cider (Braggs with the Mother), rice wine, sherry

sugars: white granulated, raw, confectioners, brown (dark and light), superfine

pasta: spaghetti, linguine, penne, orzo, tagliatelle, etc.

rice: arborio, basmati, black, brown, short grain (sushi rice), jasmine

mustards: dijon, whole grain

thick cut rolled oats

salt: kosher, coarse sea

I personally have a thing for small batch flavored salts NEVER to be confused with gross garlic salt.  I recently picked up some really interesting black and white truffle salts at Sugarpill in Seattle which are so yummy on eggs.  I also tried and LOVED Falksalt's Wild Mushroom Sea Salt that I found at the great shop Cured in Boulder.  SO good when seasoning roasted chicken.

flour: all-purpose, whole wheat, bread

grains: farro, quinoa, couscous, cornmeal

legumes: black beans, chickpeas, lentils, navy beans

nuts: almonds, walnuts, pinenuts, hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts, etc.

panko bread crumbs

capers, olives, sriracha

tuna in olive oil


good-quality organic chicken, beef and vegetable broths such as Pacific (not the canned versions please)

canned tomatoes, such as San Marzano

I love Muir Glen's organic fire-roasted tomatoes.  They are especially good in a pinch when making a lovely smoky quick tomato soup.

raisins, currants, dried cranberries, dried cherries...try to seek out great quality here without added sugar

honey, molasses, pure maple syrup (no place for Aunt J)

semi and bittersweet chocolate, high quality cocoa powder

baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch

vanilla beans and good extract.  I'm not talking McCormicks here. (see post on how to make your own vanilla extract if you don't already)

onions, garlic


black peppercorns, variety of dried chillies, whole nutmeg, cloves, coriander seeds, cumin (ground and seeds) cinnamon (ground and sticks), tumeric, cayenne, ancho and chipolte powders, ground ginger, whole cardamom, whole (or broken) star anise, smoked, sweet and hot paprika, basic curry powders such as garam masala and madras, celery seeds, mustard seeds, saffron, crushed red pepper.

This list will vary wildly based on your personal preferences. I can't say enough about high quality spices. I am fortunate to live in a town with an excellent spice shop where they grind all of their own spices, make their own mixes, etc.  If you live somewhere far flung and don't have access to great resources, there are plenty of online options available such as Savory Spice Shop and Kalustyan's. It is really important to rotate your spices on a regular basis to assure freshness.  Buy the highest quality and smallest quantity you will use.

basic Asian pantry:

coconut milk (such as Chaokoh), fish sauce (Three Crabs or RED BOAT), mirin, soy sauce, red and green curry paste, black and white sesame seeds, pickled ginger, wasabi powder

cold storage:

If and when possible, all dairy should preferrably be organic and/or the highest quality available:

milk, heavy cream, sour cream, strained yogurt


butter (unsalted)

lemons, limes

fresh herbs


chunk of parmesan cheese

aged cheddar or some other semi-hard cheese

great quality thick-cut bacon