Stocking the spring pantry with essentials helps you make the most of the season’s unfolding bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
With your pantry well stocked, you’ll be prepared to cook a wide range of dishes, and you’ll save time and money by avoiding unnecessary trips to the store.
Enjoying spring’s beautiful produce means letting the flavors speak for themselves. The following are some of the ingredients that pair well with spring produce to build or enhance dishes.
Anchovies Cured fillets, packed either in olive oil or salt (our preference, as these have a longer shelf life), add an umami depth to salad dressings and pasta sauces. Just one or two mashed-up fillets can be the magic ingredient that enhances flavors.
Black Peppercorns and a good pepper mill.
Chicken or Vegetable Stock Homemade stock for making risottos, light soups and braises, and pasta en brodo.
Cornichons are an essential ingredient for egg salads, sauce gribiche, and charcuterie; Dijon mustard is traditionally added to vinaigrettes to dress salad greens, poached leeks, or asparagus spears; Capers, packed in brine or salt, are an essential ingredient in salsa verdes, remoulade, and ravigote, and add tang and pungency to chicken, fish, and pasta.
A year-round pantry staple, pasta is a great vehicle for spring vegetables as in Pasta Primavera. If you have several types — some long like Linguine and Fettuccine, some shaped like Penne and Orecchiette — you’re halfway to dinner.
Dried Red Pepper Flakes A pinch of red pepper flakes added during the cooking process goes a long way to heighten flavor any season of the year.
Quinoa (grain salads); Millet (muffins and waffles for crunch protein); Farro (salads and risottos); Arborio rice (risottos); Brown rice (pilafs, rice bowls, salads); Buckwheat flour (sweet and savory crepes).
Lentils A quick-cooking legume that makes a nice warm side dish or a fresh, cool salad. The tiny green French variety LePuy and Black Belugas are favorites. Yellow lentils are common in Indian cooking.
Pine nuts, Pistachios, and Almonds, toasted quickly in a skillet, are versatile additions to be used in salads, rice dishes, and pestos.
A few seasonings from our SHED Pantry line that add great flavor to some of our favorite springtime dishes include Moroccan spice blends such as Ras el Hanout to enhance lamb and chicken dishes; Tarragon Caper Powder for asparagus salads, poached fish, and devilled eggs; Shiitake Mushroom Powder to add umami to dashi broths for poaching fish, chicken, or vegetables.
Stock a few varieties such as Champagne vinegar; Banyuls, a mellow red wine with a complex nutty flavor; White Wine vinegar and Rice Wine vinegar.
Verjus The pressed juice of unripened grapes, verjus can be red (made from either purely red grapes or a red-white mix) or white (made from white grapes). While acidic, verjus has a gentler flavor than vinegar, with a sweet-tart taste that is often used in salad dressings as well as marinades. You can use white verjus as you would use white wine vinegar, lemon juice, or white wine—it is good in beurre blanc, or other sauces for chicken or fish.