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When thinking of an Italian pantry, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Freshly canned tomatoes, natch! But in addition to our beloved tomatoes, there are a few pantry staples that every eye-talian pantry must have. Start building your Italian pantry with the following items:
- Dried oregano
- Dried parsley
- Basil, fresh and dried
- Fresh Garlic
- Tomato paste
- Dried pasta of various shapes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar & red wine vinegar
- Parmesan cheese (or any good aged Italian cheese, like romano, locatelli, asiago, etc.)
- Sun dried tomatoes (dried or packed in oil)
- Anchovy paste
- Ceci beans ((chickpeas); and/or red and white kidney beans)
Fun Fact: According to the Olive Oil Times (yes, that’s a thing!), a diet rich in olive oil may actually be able to slow down the aging of the heart. It has the potential to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and studies showed that a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil reduced the risk of type II diabetes by almost 50% (compared to a low fat diet).
With the addition of fresh ingredients like veggies and greens and meats and fish, lots of rustic, “peasant” dishes can be made using these Italian pantry staples. For example: Pappardelle pasta and sliced grilled chicken with sun dried tomatoes tossed with extra virgin olive oil, garlic and herbs; ceci beans and ditalini pasta simmered in chicken broth with escarole, garlic and grated parmesan cheese; chopped romaine lettuce, grilled shrimp, freshly toasted croutons, and shredded parmesan cheese tossed in a dressing made from olive oil, vinegar, garlic, anchovy paste and lemon juice.
Fun fact: With one serving clocking in at 12.5 grams of fiber and 14.5 grams of protein, Ceci beans are a proverbial superfood! They help to increase satiety, boost digestion, keep blood sugar levels stable and increase protection against disease.
Have you ever tried growing an herb garden of your own? Growing your own fresh herbs is super simple and inexpensive and can be done indoors, any time of year. Grab a pot like this, and some herbs like this, and some potting soil like that, and you’ll be well on your way to yummy herbal goodness in no time!
Want to try your hand at drying herbs? If you’ve got fresh herbs, an oven, some twine or rubberbands, then baby, you’ve got dried herbs.
Check out this video to learn more:
Fun Fact: Consuming garlic on a daily basis (no problem in this house) helps to lower cholesterol levels because of the antioxidant properties of allicin. It is also immensely beneficial to regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels!
Now that you’ve stocked your Italian pantry, how about throwing together a simple and delicious recipe? Pair Garlic Shrimp and Sun Dried Tomatoes With Spaghetti with some crusty Italian bread and a nice Pinot Grigio, and let me know what time’s dinner.
1 1/2 pounds of large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 sun dried tomatoes, thinly sliced (or chopped)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 oz. spaghetti
Cook spaghetti according to package directions, drain.
Heat the oil and garlic together in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the oil is hot in the garlic is softened, about one minute.
Add the shrimp and sun dried tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the shrimp turns opaque, about four minutes. Add the lemon juice and parsley, stir well.
Add the cooked spaghetti to the skillet and toss well. Taste for seasoning.
Serve with additional fresh lemon juice and sprinkle with red pepper flakes (optional)