10 dinner essentials

Becky made a post over on her blog about the 10 things she turns to again and again to produce yummy dinners, and it got me thinking about my go-to items for cooking my own dinners.
My list is a little scattered because Wayne and I often eat different things, but for the most part these are the things I try to always keep in the kitchen:

1) Basil and Cilantro. When the weather is nice enough, I grow these on the deck. During the winter months, you’ll find my windowsills lined with rooted cuttings. I use one or both of these in almost every meal I make if I have them on hand, from french bread with basil, pepper and olive oil dipping sauce, to tacos covered in fresh cilantro, to thai and indian stir fries. Oh, and basil rolls. mmm basil rolls…
tomato sandwich

2) A red-pepper based “grilling mix” of spices that comes ready-to-go in one of those grindy-top containers. This is indispensable for those meals where the main dish revolves around something my husband and I will both eat (like black beans and rice) and I need to add a quick-grilled bit of chicken or pork for him.

3) Limes. I cook a LOT of thai and mexican foods. Limes make both better. They also are convenient for that weekend pitcher of margaritas.
4) Onions. Red or green, often both. Fabulous for stir fries, or grilled and piled on top of a sandwich. In the case of green onions, they make basil rolls a million times better. Sauteed reds with spinach is one of my favorite side dishes.

5) Rice. We eat a LOT of rice. I mean, a LOT. Basmati, Jasmine, Saffron, you name it, we have it. I’d say about half my weekly meals involve a fresh cooker full of rice.

6) Noodles. I could probably eat noodles every single day. Pho is one of the best foods on the planet. Sadly, my husband doesn’t share this obsession with noodles so I tend to eat them mostly when he is not here.
7) Avocados. Basil rolls, guacamole, fish tacos, pho, salads, straight out of the shell… Love them. I wish I could grow my own since they are expensive and have to travel far.
seared tuna

8 ) Chicken breasts. I don’t really eat these, but having them on hand makes cooking so much easier since grilling one up on the side means I can cook a meal my husband and I can happily share otherwise.

9) Black beans. Cheap, nutritious, delicious. We eat a lot of them, in tacos or over saffron rice. Great meat substitute.

10) Peppers. Green, Red, Orange, Jalapeno, Thai… they go in stir fries, salads, tacos, basil rolls, soup, noodles, wow, everything. I’m growing these this year myself since they are on the list of top 10 toxic foods grown conventionally.

Ok! That’s my top 10, what’s yours??


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