Whether you are still in the throes of winter or starting to feel hints of spring around, now is the perfect time for a pantry cleanout. It’s about to be prime produce season and an organized, well-stocked pantry is the key to cooking meals that are light, bright, and healthy. Luckily, California Olive Ranch has teamed up with other food companies that share their “Made Right, Here” philosophy of healthful products made here in the USA for a Pantry Revamp! Together with delicious chickpea pasta alternative Banza, our go-to afternoon treat Bare Snacks, whole grain food company Bob’s Red Mill, and maker of organic tomatoes, salsa, and pasta sauces Muir Glen, we’ll bring you some great recipes from bloggers Kelsey Preciado of Little Bits Of… and Erika Turk of Food & Frenchies along with the great chefs below.
So head over to our Instagram for a giveaway with California Olive Ranch, Banza, Bob’s Red Mill, Muir Glen, and Bare Snacks! But first, our chefs share how to clean out and restock your pantry!
First, Clean Out Your Pantry:
Start fresh with spices. “Spices don’t have as long of a shelf life as most home cooks think, but with smaller amounts of higher quality spices, you will see a big difference in your dishes,” according to Brad Farmerie of New York City’s PUBLIC and Saxon + Parole.
“Consolidate all of your dry goods into sealable mason jars. This keeps your ingredients fresh and easy to identify,” advises Adam Sappington of The Country Cat in Portland, Oregon.
Reconsider your storage layout. “The the things that can really destroy a beautiful bottle of olive oil are heat, light, and air.. Many home cooks keep olive oil near the cooking range for convenience. This exposes the product to the heat from the kitchen and light. I always keep my olive oil in the coolest, darkest part of the pantry,” cautions Ryan Pollnow of San Francisco’s Aatxe adding, “Another tip to prevent olive oil from going rancid is…USE IT, it’s delicious.
Then It’s Time to Restock:
Restock your spices at the local ethnic store. Look also for pastes, hot sauces, and soy sauce. Adam says, “Throw a few new flavors into your basket that you haven’t used in the past for those dog days of winter when you need a fresh approach to the same old vegetables and blends you’re used to.”
Then “Label & Date.” “In the professional kitchen, everything gets a label and date to assure proper product rotation,” says Ryan. “At home this is a smart practice, too, particularly with things like spices and dried herbs. The moment a spice container is opened, the flavors will slowly begin to weaken and dull.” Throw out after a year or when the aroma is weak.
Upgrade your basic essentials. Great olive oil like California Olive Ranch, serious finishing salt like Maldon salt, and fresh aromatic and nuanced pepper like Pierre Poive pepper from La Boit will make an immediate difference in your home cooking. “And while we’re at it,” Brad says, “why add the same one-dimensional black pepper to everything you cook? Look at alternatives like Aleppo (a sundried super mild chili flake from Syria) or sambal (a complex chili paste) to add to dishes to give them the lift that you are looking for with plain old boring pepper.
Likewise, ditch your balsamic and go off-piste with vinegar. (Okay, maybe don’t ditch but mix it up!) “Acidity is second only to salt in perking up flavors, so make sure you have some interesting options on-hand like drinks varietals (chardonnay, pedro ximenez, riesling, beer) or any of the realm of fruits available (fig, quince, etc.)” according to Brad.
Keep some texture in your pantry. Brad says, “I love having a whole host of crunchy bits that can be sprinkled onto a dish at the last minute to add a textural contrast and new dimension of flavor to cereals, baked goods, salads, braised meat dishes, and more. Smoked almonds, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts, puffed rice/quinoa, sesame, pumpkin/hemp seeds, dukkah (an Egyptian nut/seed/spice blend). They are all shelf-stable and take no time to sprinkle on, yet give a dish a professional finished touch and taste.”