The Ingredient Giada De Laurentiis Wants You to Add to Your Pantry

March 27, 2018

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.

In her latest cookbook, Giada’s Italy: My Recipes for La Dolce Vita, Giada De Laurentiis does her best to keep those hard-to-find ingredients to a minimum. But there’s one ingredient she insists you add to your collection: Calabrian chile paste.

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:

What’s your favorite specialty ingredient? Share that one you can’t live without below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.


M March 28, 2018
If I could stress anything to those substituting, or myself ten years ago, it would be NOT to use the acid+milk to replace buttermilk. One recipe might yield decent results, but many lead to final products vastly different from intended. It was a revelation the first time I hunted down buttermilk for the pancake recipe I always used. #CampStellaParks
M March 28, 2018
These days, unless I'm taking a break from baking or pancakes, I keep some in the fridge even when not planning to use it. Stella is right when she says it lasts WAY longer than the best-before. I've used it 1.5 months after that, and had perfect results.