Our featured author this month is Heidi Swanson, the writer behind 101 Cookbooks and Super Natural Every Day. Heidi is well-known for her unique cooking style, which focuses on whole, nutritious ingredients, so we asked for a peek inside her pantry. Keep reading to learn about some of her favorite staples.
I think a lot of people are interested in making a shift to a “less-processed” pantry. But I’ll start by saying: I don’t think the shift away from an “all-white” pantry has to happen overnight. For me, it was certainly a progression. Over time, I would simply replace ingredients that ran out with less-processed alternatives — whole-grain flours, brown or black rices, natural sweeteners, etc.
So, instead of making risotto with arborio rice, I’d use barley or pearled barley. Or, I’d do pasta blends — half regular pasta, and half whole wheat or spinach pasta. When baking, I started playing around with whole wheat and whole wheat pasty flour, rye flour and the like. I loved all the flavors that came into play, and became more and more inspired.
For people easing into this realm of ingredients: buy one ingredient at a time, and get to know it a bit. I tend to shop in the bin/bulk section of the grocery store for many of my pantry items.
A look in my pantry right now reveals green and yellow split peas, Umbrian lentil, farro, wild rice, millet, mug beans, quinoa, short and medium grain brown rices. I keep a range of flours on hand for baking: whole wheat or spelt, whole wheat pastry flour, rye flour, all-purpose flour. Lots of nuts and seeds, right now: walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pine nuts. On the pasta front, I always have soba noodles, and I tend to keep a couple of other dried pastas on hand — whole-wheat orzo is fun.
I typically cook a big pot of a grains, such as barley or brown rice, and a big pot of beans once a week, usually over the weekend. Anything I don’t think I’ll use in the following few days I drain well, bag and freeze. A quick defrost in a pan or skillet, and you have a great base for quick mid-week meals. (Although, I should note, quinoa doesn’t freeze well for me.)
See Heidi’s recipes here!