We already know the benefits of having a well-stocked pantry at all times: After a busy day of work, when the couch is calling your name and your fridge's contents look bleak at best, having a few trusty pantry helpers can really help you eke out a meal in a pinch.
For those following vegetarian or vegan lifestyles, where there is already a great reliance on shelf-stable, pantry-friendly ingredients, getting new tips for keeping the cooking organized, delicious, and exciting are especially welcome.
We turned to cookbook writer Rita Serano for her favorite essentials in the kitchen. She champions accessible plant-based meals in her book Vegan in 7. "I want to show you that cooking and eating wholesome, vegan food is easy, fun, and delicious," she writes. "Beans, grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts never have to be boring, neither does good food have to be complicated. To prove the point, none of the recipes [in the book] contains more than seven ingredients, plus the kitchen essentials of salt, pepper, and occasionally a little oil."
Scroll through to see what Rita likes cooking with, day in and day out:
The best way to ensure you can create wonderful, delicious food at any moment is to have a well-stocked pantry. The recipes in this book include some ingredients that may be unfamiliar to you, but most you can get from your local organic store or supermarket. Other, more unusual ones, such as Indian black salt and liquid smoke, you can order online.
The following are essentials in my pantry.
Normally I cook my own beans, but if I’m in a hurry, I will use a jar or a can. Make sure that your can is BPA-free, though. I stock many different types of beans, including:
Like beans, grains are a staple in the vegan or plant food diet. Pair them with nuts, seeds, and vegetables and you have a perfect protein-rich meal. Due to their slow release of sugars into the bloodstream, whole grains will keep you satisfied for a long time. They also contain fiber, minerals, and vitamins. All grains need to be washed before you cook them. There are so many delicious grains out there to try, including:
I stock a variety of gluten-free flours to bake with and other essentials for baking. My pantry includes the following:
Nuts and seeds are essential in my cooking. Store them in a dark place, or even in your fridge, to prevent the oils turning rancid. My favorites are:
I don’t use any refined commercial sugars at all, but, although I am not fond of processed food and like to eat food that is as natural as possible, I do use a variety of "natural sweeteners," including:
This excerpt has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Do you stock a vegan pantry? Share your favorite kitchen essentials with us below!
The Food52 Vegan Cookbook is here! With this book from Gena Hamshaw, anyone can learn how to eat more plants (and along the way, how to cook with and love cashew cheese, tofu, and nutritional yeast).Order now