Grocery shopping might be a miserable chore to some, but I love it. Not only do I get meal inspiration by wandering up and down the aisles, it's a good way to get to know some regional ingredients you don't find outside the area.
I felt fortunate to pick up a package of Pasta Mama's handmade noodles at a seafood market in Bandon, Ore., and there's always tuna, sardines, smoked salmon in our "salad" bin in the one cupboard that serves as a pantry. Those staple ingredients often fill out a dish, making something simple into a dish that's Instagram-worthy.
Lately, I've been focused on picking up items that are packaged in soft-sided ready-to-cook-in containers. That could mean black beans, cooked rice or chowder. The latter proved to be a key piece of a meal we cooked on our last night at Gold Bluffs Beach.
Initially, we planned on spending just one night, but the place was so magical, we stretched it to three. By the last evening, we had "eaten down the fridge" and I was wondering how to turn smoked salmon and pasta into a complete dish when I hit on the idea of mixing in the chowder. Also tossed in some capers and drizzled the top with a chimichurri sauce my sister gave me for our birthdays. It was pretty spectacular, if I do say so myself, and I'm pretty sure John would agree since he made the pile of pasta disappear quickly.
What are your favorite pantry staples? Send us a shopping list to firstname.lastname@example.org, please and thanks!