Hello friends and not-yet-friends and welcome to my first SnugVegans blog post, that’s basically an actual blog post and not just off on a jaunt into the world or cooking something. I’ve been asked by a few people at times what are the KEY ingredients I can never be without when I’m cooking, and I’m never really sure what to answer because it’s kinda’ the same for everyone right? A starch, milk alternatives, things to make sauces with blah blah…
So I’m going to be a bit out there; in this list you will find no pasta, vegan butter, almond milk etc. nor will you find processed foods like Vegan Cheese or “Dark Chocolate Lebkuchen” (much as we may love them!) but thinking really hard about the things I should ALWAYS have in my vegan kitchen because i use them on a near daily basis.
Honorable mention also to Ground Flax Seed and Chia Seeds, but honestly in many of the recipes I make you don’t feature as the be-all-and-end-all, Andreea may disagree (especially seeing as you play such a pivotal role in her Porridge recipe) but this is my list darn it!
So place your bets and make your guesses now please – as we roll hastily onto number 1…
#1 Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional Yeast or “nooch”/”nutch” as it’s often referred is an absolute MUST. It goes in everything from Mac and Cheese to the Parm recipe – it is a vital ingredient for getting enough B12 in our diets but also comes with a distinctly cheesy / nutty taste and can be used for basically everything, from being stirred into sauces, to topping chili and even being mushed into mash! No plant-based eater should be without this!
#2 Tinned Chopped Tomatoes
I don’t even know how to cook when I don’t have tinned tomatoes around. I use them in basically any kind of dish for sauces, chilis, pasta, ANYTHING. We buy these in bulk and I honestly think I would have a panic attack if we ever ran out. As par for the course I tend to always have around 6 cans nearby, just in case! Always make sure you invest in good tinned tomatoes though, as watery ones can be thoroughly disappointing.
#3 Maple Syrup
Liquid sweetener – many recipes call for honey and other sweet additions – maple is reasonably heathy (for something with such a high sugar content!) and lends it’s flavor to pretty much anything we make. Whenever your recipe calls for any kind of liquid sweetener we will always pick maple over everything – plus it goes GREAT on pancakes and waffles!
#4 Soy Sauce / Tamari
All cooking comes with flavor profiles and getting the right balance can be really difficult – fortunately though when you’re looking for a nice deep umami flavor you can simply add Soy Sauce (or Tamari for that GF satisfaction!) – it really is just a flavor bomb and adds a depth to anything and everything you add it to!
#5 (Smoked) Paprika
An odd addition I know – but honestly I add Paprika (more often than not, smoked paprika) to basically every dish I make, to give it not only a depth of flavor but that punchy, smoky taste that you expect from hearty, slow cooked or substantial foods. It goes into cauliflower wings, the frittata and my SOS chili. Paired with maple syrup and soy sauce it just adds something you won’t really get from any other spice!
#6 Garlic (Fresh & Powder & Granules)
It’s garlic. Next!
No but seriously – garlic is in my blood. It goes in everything, I am lost without it. Plus you’ll be hearing my garlic bread recipe in a few weeks time, trust me. Garlic is just in everything we make (sorry low-FODMAPpers) but I honestly would feel like any dish is incomplete without a touch of garlic. None more so than my favorite dish at the moment, Andreea’s Pad Thai.
#7 Tinned Beans & Chickpeas
Beans and Chickpeas are the ultimate cupboard staple, no hummus? No biggie. Grab your tins of chickpeas (and your garlic) and meet me at the nutribullet! Whenever we run out of fresh fruit and veg to use, and we’re at a loose end on a weekday night, there is nothing more warming than making a quick bean-chili or a buddha bowl with a BIG dollop of hummus! Tinned beans and chickpeas always come to the rescue, like Batman, but less grumpy.
#8 BONUS – Gravy
This is an odd bonus choice as it is VERY easy to make gravy and honestly, even if we don’t have it the food is still going to taste good. But. Gravy is something I feel brings the whole dish together, makes it warm and inviting, with a subtle salty, deep flavor – not to mention that if you made a boo-boo and cooked things at weird times and ended up with cold broccoli, gravy is a beautiful blanket that hides all mistakes. So thank you gravy, you get the bonus mention!
There are a lot of other options I could have had here, but these are my top 7 (cough 8) picks – if you had to pick, what would yours be?
The world is a pretty crazy place at the moment so hopefully this post inspires you, and we would love to hear what you’re cooking and also we’d love to see your attempts at the above dish and how you change it to be yours, so tweet us @rockinblues and @PlantBasedSQL on Twitter and let us know your snug story!