Friday, October 9, 2009

When in Rome…

images by Roland Bello for Gourmet... Bello's gorgeous work is one of the many reasons I'm so, so sad Gourmet will be no longer. sigh.

Recently, Erin from of the blog Villa Pacis e-mailed me with a peek into her kitchen in Rome. Specifically she shared her family’s seven staples, which I plan to copy immediatamente

Here’s what Erin's family can’t live without on the food front:

  1. Riso Giallo (yellow rice, which is actually risotto alla milanese) the kids LOVE this. we normally serve it with prosciutto after and parmesan cheese on top.
  2. Lentil Soup served with parmesan cheese on top and oil
  3. Polpettine con Sugo (little mini meatballs which I lace with grated vegetables and serve with a fresh tomato sauce.)
  4. Pesce al Forno (whatever pretty fish we find at the market in a pan in the oven with cherry tomatoes sliced potatoes rosemary salt pepper to taste and olive oil baked together.)
  5. Pollo Arrosto (roast chicken, stuffed with garlic, lots of lemon wedges, bay leaves, rosemary, salt and pepper to taste, olive oil and a splash of beer:-) we also add potatoes, carrots, fennel and garlic bits around in the pan.
  6. Milanese (fried or baked but when fried only in extra virgin olive oil. served with steamed greens on the side and lemon juice on top.)
  7. Minestrone (a Sunday night staple when we take every single vegetable we have in the fridge, cut them into bit size pieces, throw in a pot where we browned 1/2 and onion, garlic and celery, cook until waters come out of veggies, stir, cover with water to level of soup desired and cook for 30 minutes on low flame. we serve it with grated parmesan cheese on top and a drizzle of fresh olive oil.

Inspiring no?

So I’m curious, what are your staples?? We’ve talked a little about go-to meals in the past, but I’d love to hear more about what you always have on hand. I really believe there’s a science to stocking a pantry and if I could just get our staples worked out and have my ten go-to meals set in stone then I think I’d have this dinner time thing beat…


  1. Will you think I'm joking if I tell you that I have an itemized pantry list for every single cupboard in my kitchen? I am a firm believer in the benefits of a well stocked pantry.
    I won't bore you with all 10 pages, but I'll give you my staples... beans (dried and canned), canned tomatoes and tomato paste, emergency spaghetti sauce, dried pasta, couscous, rice, etc. For baking - flour (several kinds), sugar, nuts, dried fruit.

    We always joke that if the big earthquake hits here, we'd be able to live for months on my pantry supplies.

  2. I want to hear more about Rachel's itemized list! That sounds interesting.

    My staples:

    : some sort of dried pasta and cans of diced tomatoes to make a pasta dish :

    : oatmeal for a good warm breakfast any day of the week :

    : shredded up chicken and stir fry vegetables in the freezer and spaghetti noodles to make a peanut butter chicken dish that is so yummy :

    : I cook big pots of black beans and freeze them in one cup portions to have on hand for a variety of dishes. I like to keep a few cans of other types of beans in the cupboard too :

  3. Besides bread, milk, eggs, baking supplies like flour, condiments, my main items are:
    Roast chicken
    Boneless skinless chicken breasts/thighs
    Pork chops
    Ground beef
    Fresh peppers
    Fresh green beans
    Grape tomatoes
    Fresh spinach
    Frozen peas
    Frozen corn or corn on the cob
    Black beans
    Canned tomato sauce
    Canned diced tomatoes
    Canned whole tomatoes
    Jar marinara sauce
    Sweet potato fries
    Shredded mozzarella, colby jack, sharp cheddar
    Shredded parmesan
    Fresh french bread (use or freeze)
    Bread crumbs
    Spaghetti noodles
    Macaroni noodles
    Lasagna noodles
    Egg noodles

    From this I can make homemade Pizza, Tacos or fajitas, Meatloaf, Mac n cheese, Quesadillas with black beans and corn, Chicken noodle soup, Spaghetti and meatballs, Lasagna, Parmesan chicken, Cheeseburgers. Often I do simple meal of a grilled/baked/broiled meat, fresh veggie, salad and/or garlic bread. We make spinach salads as a side for many dinners, and once it's not so fresh it is sauteed up. And no my 3 & 4 yr. old will not eat sauteed spinach, but they will eat fresh. They prefer almost all of their veggies uncooked. Because of this, I often do the 'component' meals you have mentioned.

    I made 4 new meals this week (pepper steak, beef stroganoff, eggplant parmesan, bean soup). None were eaten by the children (well my 1 yr. old ate the eggplant but wouldn't eat the spaghetti noodles!). For the first time I am really struggling to find things to please every family member, yet not die of cooking boredom. My kids will eat things like hummus, guacamole, mustard, or raw veggies but not mashed potatoes, gravy or sauce on things (including cheese sauce!), ravioli, or rice. Summertime is easier, now when I want to start cooking comfort foods, I have a harder time.

  4. ladies this is GREAT!!!!!! i am now officially inspired to do a full blown pantry list.

    Rachel, i want to see yours! all of it...and no i don't think you're crazy!

    Allison -- i'm so jealous your kids will eat hummus and guacamole -- sigh.

  5. Joslyn,
    I love these lists! And will be adding a few of these delights to my pantry of:
    black rice
    dried porcini and morel mushrooms
    veggies of all sorts
    fruits (in season)
    almond butter

  6. I actually just wrote a poat about stocking my pantry, and fridge, with real food, here is the link > a well-stocked pantry.

  7. your posts always make me so hungry...i tend to eat out a lot because i'm so uncreative when it comes to cooking. good for you for having such a wonderful gift!

  8. I think my pantry needs and go to foods are changing as I am slowly trying to eliminate many processed foods. I keep staples such as flours, nuts, dried pastas/noodles, lentils/couscous, tuna, olives, ginger cookies, ice cream,corn salsa, frozen berries, frozen homemade tomato sauce, eggs, coconut milk, canned pumpkin and a jar or two of trader joes bruschetta. I like to be able to throw a meal together for a group of 8 (usually after church) by using what I have on hand. I try to keep my fridge stocked with a couple different cheeses and an assortment of fruit & veggies so I can make pasta, soup, a quick ice cream sandwich dessert or appetizers. I love lists like this it makes me stop and think. I may have to expand this idea one of these days on my blog.
    Tonight we are having take out pizza...for a pta fundraiser.

  9. Hey there, I thought you'd enjoy reading these two articles from Michael Pollan:

    As always your blogs are lovely!

  10. Canned beans- black, pinto, kidney and white
    Canned tomatoes- diced, stewed, crushed, whole and paste
    White and brown rice
    Pasta- a variety of types, always have spaghetti!
    Olive oil
    Frozen corn
    Whole wheat bread
    Tortilla Chips
    Baby spinach
    Cheese- cheddar and pepper jack

    That's a seemingly random list, but if I've got that stuff I can generally come up with something on the fly.

  11. I love the idea of identifying a dozen meals that your family loves! I'm working on my list.

    As for staples, we always have tea, juice, milk, yogurt, cereal, assorted breads, assorted cheeses, eggs, a rotating selection of fresh produce, farm-fresh beef and pork in the freezer + chicken carcasses for making broth, white and brown rice, red and black beans, canned tomatoes and green beans, frozen peas and corn, and peanutbutter.

    I still shop like a European: several quick shopping trips per week for fresh produce + dairy with a minimal selection maintained in the pantry. It's more time consuming this way but I waste less. Works for us.