Lifestyle Entertaining Food & Drink

The Holy Grail Pantry Staples Chefs Always Keep Stocked

Including an immune-boosting superpowder.
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Introducing: the multipurpose seasonings and holy grail canned goods our favorite foodies always have on hand. They’ve seen them through thrown-together snacks and elaborate dinners; they’ve been trotted out for cold-busting warm drinks and hearty soups. Best of all, they’re all available to purchase online or at a local supermarket, so you can expand your cooking repertoire while hunkering down at home. Here’s to stress-free dining. 

The Immune-Boosting Superpowder

Recommended by: Shiza Shahid, founder of Our Place. Origin story: I grew up having lots of turmeric; it’s a staple in my home country of Pakistan. I love the taste and health benefits.

Recipe inspo: We use it in curries and eggs, and in milk—the original “turmeric lattes” are called haldi doodh. Heat up a cup of milk (I use oat or macadamia), add ¼ teaspoon of turmeric, ¼ teaspoon of ground cardamom, a pinch of black pepper, and ½ teaspoon of honey. Simmer for three to four minutes, then pour to serve.

The One-Size-Fits-All Blend

Recommended by: Gaby Dalkin, blogger behind What’s Gaby Cooking. Origin story: It’s been my go-to blend since culinary school; there’s a bit of a Mediterranean vibe to it, which is super-appreciated right now when we’re all just traveling from our kitchens. It’s the one seasoning I have in my back pocket that can make anything sing. 

Recipe inspo: I use it on literally every kind of roasted vegetable—sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, mushrooms. I’m currently getting them from my local CSA. I also put it in a salad dressing, mixed into olive oil and vinegar for an extra punch of flavor.  

The Universal Sauce Base 

Recommended by: Aishwarya Iyer, founder of Brightland. Origin story: I discovered these tomatoes a couple years ago after visiting Bianco Pizza in Arizona; until then, I hadn’t given a second thought to the canned variety. 

Recipe inspo: We use them in pizza sauce; I like to mix them with Calabrian chilis, basil, garlic, and olive oil. Karen Palmer also created an amazing pasta sauce recipe last summer for Brightland using the tomatoes, which I go back to again and again. 

The Spicy Kick 

Recommended by: Laura Wright, blogger behind The First Mess. Origin story: Ground chili is incredible! A bit spicy and fruity, with a hint of smoke and acidity. I’d been using Diaspora Co.’s single-origin turmeric for a couple years now, and when I placed my most recent order, I threw in a jar of its chilies. They add so much to basically everything I’m cooking. (Editors’ note: Wright’s pick is currently available for preorder, but if you can’t wait, we also love this blend from The Spice House.)

Recipe inspo: Ground chili balances out the heat in soups and stews, like my sweet potato coconut milk one. Also, it’s the perfect finishing touch on top of a creamy dip or as a chili flake substitute on a bowl of pasta. 

The Dressed-Up Basic

Recommended by: Alison Wu, blogger behind WuHaus. Origin story: It wasn’t until I started creating my own recipes that I realized what a big difference it makes when you pay attention to the quality of staple ingredients. I think that Maldon sea salt is the standard for excellence. It has a clean taste and a nice, flaky texture that adds depth to every dish. 

Recipe inspo: Basically everything savory that comes out of my kitchen gets finished with a light sprinkling of this. I use it with lime juice to marinate coconut for a plant-based mango ceviche, and to top off snacks like Medjool dates and nut butter. If you know anyone who likes to cook, a box of Maldon sea salt is a small, thoughtful gift idea that goes a long way. 

See more dishes to make now: Baking Bread Is the Only Therapy I Need How to Make Dinner With What’s in Your Freezer What Chefs Make When They Don’t Have Time to Grocery Shop

Elly Leavitt

Writer and Editor

Elly enjoys covering anything from travel to funky design (tubular furniture, anyone?) to the latest cultural trend. Her dream apartment would exist on the Upper West Side and include a plethora of mismatched antique chairs, ceramic vessels, and floor-to-ceiling bookcases—essential to her goal of becoming a poor man’s Nora Ephron. You can probably find her in line at Trader Joe’s. You will never find her at SoulCycle.

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