Pantry Staples

At Purvey LA, it's all about really good ingredients and adding just enough to make it better.

While it's important to have really great, fresh-picked produce, you'll often have to add just enough to make it better. For me, that usually means adding a bit of salt and some extra virgin olive oil to that perfect bunch of arugula to make a simple salad complete. 

Once your pantry is stocked, a great meal is always within reach. Here are a few of my go-to pantry staples.

Salt I'm a fan. While I'm certainly health conscious, salt is vital in any dish and will enhance the flavor of anything you're preparing, from kale to cake. I often use Kosher salt throughout the cooking process and reserve flake salt for finishing or when salt doesn't dissolve during the cooking process, when roasting, for instance. Favorite brands include Maldon and Jacobson Salt Co.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Let's be honest, when I'm running low on olive oil, I begin to panic. It's THE  staple to my pantry and used in almost every dish to add moisture and flavor. I usually have two bottles on hand, one for everyday cooking and the other, of slightly higher quality, for dressings and finishing. My favorite finishing oil these days is Olio Santo, a cold pressed oil from California but when I can find it, I never pass up a bottle of Mandranova's Nocellara oil, produced on the western coast of Sicily.

Garlic Garlic is another key ingredient I always have on hand. Sautéed, roasted, or smashed, it can do no wrong. Now, not all garlic is created equal. I like to stock up on varietals at the farmer's market as the store-bought stuff is often yellowish and lacks proper flavor. Needless to say, get the good stuff! In my opinion, as long as you have the ingredients listed above, you're well on your way to having endless ways of preparing just about any veg you encounter - salt, EVOO, and garlic are the simple building blocks of flavor. 

Vinegar Vinegar can bring immense range to your salad dressing game. From rice to champagne, I love exploring the deep nuances of flavors vinegar has to offer. 

Spices The wall of spices on the grocery display can be an intimidating sight. But, if you begin to build up your arsenal one by one, you'll suddenly get to know each spice's flavor and personality slowly and steadily. Or, you can do like I did one day and buy about ten of them at once. To short list, my favorites include (aka the ones I think you should have at the ready): cumin, oregano, bay leaf, cinnamon, baharat, sumac, paprika, caraway seeds, turmeric, ground ginger, coriander, red chile flakes, harissa, aleppo, za'atar, and of course, black pepper. 

Greek Yogurt Think (way) beyond breakfast when it comes to this kitchen staple. Greek yogurt is perfect spiked with lemon, garlic, and sumac, used to thicken dressings, or strained overnight to make your own labneh. I prefer Fage myself. 

Anchovies I realize anchovies are an easy target on the "love to hate" radar. If you're onboard, great! If you're not a fan, hear me out. Anchovies are a star in my kitchen. No, I don't use them everyday, but when I do, I'm never disappointed by the rich depth of flavor anchovies bring to a dish. Emulsified into a dressing or smashed and melted in a hot pan with oil, garlic, and broccoli rabe, anchovies can be your secret umami weapon. You (or your family) won't know they're there, so no need to tell them until they taste for themselves (vegetarians and vegans aside). 

Dijon Mustard Simply put, a dressing ingredient staple. 

Miso Admittedly, the first time I began cooking with miso I was on a "cleanse." After a taste, I couldn't believe this was a cleanse-approved ingredient! It had so much FLAVOR. Needless to say, post-cleanse, it's still an ingredient I love to have on hand to dress roasted root veggies or make the quickest miso soup imaginable. If you're new to miso, I recommend starting with white or yellow miso, both have a lighter, sweeter flavor. 

Lemon A little zest or a fresh squeeze of juice will brighten up anything on your plate. 

Jarred Tomatoes A jar of whole tomatoes in the pantry can never hurt. With a quality product at the ready, you can throw together a simple tomato sauce fit for pasta, pizza, fish, you name it, in a matter of minutes (seriously). You can find these jars at specialty food stores, or if you're lucky, at your proverbial Nonna's house. 

As you begin to cook through Purvey LA's recipes, you may notice these back-pocket pantry standbys come up again and again, each recipe unique with different proportions or techniques, resulting in familiar, yet distinct flavors.