I’m a big fan of substitutions. Don’t have buttermilk? Squeeze a lemon in whole milk. Missing shallots? Grab an onion. Only have olive oil? Don’t worry about using avocado or walnut. But sometimes—despite the fact that your pantry shelves are bursting—that specialty ingredient is the only way to get the authentic flavor of a dish.
If you pick only one thing to buy from this list, make it this one. I throw this blend of crushed dried chiles and extra-virgin olive oil into everything, from pasta sauces and stews to salad dressings for a bit of mellow heat. It’s usually found online or in a specialty store, but it’s well worth seeking out; one jar will last you a long time.
Made with dried hot chile peppers from the the Italian region of Calabria, this spicy paste is the perfect flavor-booster for eggs, vegetables, pasta, and more. Here are 6 ways we’d like to spice dinner up: