To celebrate VegInDC's one year anniversary, I thought I would put together this helpful guide to some essential ingredients.
Over the course of my time in our vegan, gluten-free kitchen, I have come to rely on some stock ingredients in a variety of recipes. While you might not run out the door and buy all these items today; I suggest you acquire them as recipes call for them. Eventually you will have a pantry that is always stocked with these items.
1) Nutritional yeast
A few months ago my friends Will and Jake mocked me for this; but nutritional yeast is really a wonder ingredient. It has a nutty, tangy flavor not all that disimilar to sharp cheeses. I use it in my baked ziti as well as other dishes that call for some umami (savory taste).
2) Powdered egg replacer
In many baking recipes (but not all!) egg acts as a chemical agent giving hold to your baked goods. The hold doesn't necessary provide flavor, but it is extremely important to the chemical reaction in baked goods. Powdered egg replacer (basically a combo of tapioca and potato starches plus leavening) provides the same reaction.
3) Lentils and beans
Lentils are a super food. Red, yellow, brown--they are all excellent and are great in dal, soup, and other stews. I always keep them on hand. Additionally, we always have cans of black, red, pinto and garbanzo beans on hand. They often form the basis of a quick and easy dinner.
4) Rolled oats
In addition to using them for oatmeal, I use rolled oats in all sorts of applications. Whether thats throwing them into the food processor and getting some instant gluten free oat flour, or using them in my latkes for their gluey, binding ability, they are always helpful.
5) Diced tomatoes
Cans of diced tomatoes are useful in soups, beans and rice, chili and for making a quick tomato sauce. I usually buy the diced or petit diced variety as they can be blended to form more of a sauce, or left intact if that is the desire.
Quinoa is both a protein and a grain, which makes it an ideal compliment to many dishes. Delicious cold in summer salads, or warm with any number of additional ingredients. Pick some up and use as you would rice or couscous.
We use ginger in many Asian-inspired dishes, and Anne is also known to use it in her juicing. Along with it's natural anti-inflammatory properties, ginger is one of my favorite flavors; spicy, tangy, and I don't know what else--gingery!
8) Garlic cloves
We use a lot of garlic in our house--a lot. Whenever I am trying a new recipe I am know for sometimes increasing it by 2x. We picked up a gigantic bag of garlic a few months ago from Costco and just finished it. It is a great, healthy addition to all cooking!
9) Frozen veggies
During the winter months when buying fresh vegetables is less than desirable, I buy a lot of frozen vegetables. Broccoli, brussel sprouts, green beans, etc. You can steam them, add Earth Balance and have an instant healthy addition to your meal.
10) Spices, herbs, and seasonings
One of my favorite stores in the world is Penzey's. We have one in Rockville and every 6 months or so I go to stock up my spice cabinet. Purchase spices when you need them, and over time you will develop a full complement of seasonings and find things you can't do without. I use a lot of basil, oregano, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, and onion powder.