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5 Ingredients For Flavorful Meals In A Breeze

By Marcus Samuelsson | April 19, 2011

Although most home cooks consider salt, pepper, flour, and sugar their pantry staples, keeping a few special ingredients on hand helps make uninspired dinners interesting. These five new pantry staples will transform your everyday eating. Go from boring and routine to extraordinary with just one trip to the supermarket. Now that it’s spring, pair these staples with the market’s bounty for a healthy meal!

1. Brown Rice: White rice can be a bland accompaniment for flavorful braised meats and stir fries, whereas brown rice packs a nutty punch. Regular white rice loses the bran and germ during the milling process, which strips the grain of many nutrients. Using brown rice instead of white delivers those crucial B vitamins and minerals. Try this recipe for beef and brown rice chili as an innovative twist on a classic, filling dish.

2. Quinoa: From the Andes region of South America, quinoa was considered a sacred grain by the Incas. Today, quinoa has enjoyed a revival thanks to its high protein content. A great way for vegetarians to vary their diets, quinoa is delicious served in everyday salads and as a side dish. Top a fluffy pile of quinoa with some roasted beets-it makes a wonderful weekday lunch.

3. Whole-Wheat Pasta: Healthier and more flavorful than regular pasta, the whole-wheat variety adds fiber and complex carbohydrates to an Italian dinner. From penne to spaghetti, whole-wheat pasta can be purchased dried at most supermarkets. Whole-wheat Rigatoni with Potatoes is a hearty dish that can turn leftover spuds into an entirely new dinner.

4. Seasoned Bread Crumbs: Whether frying fish or making meatballs, seasoned bread crumbs bring extra herb-y flavor to your favorite dishes. And using seasoned bread crumbs saves a step, too-no more digging through the spice cabinet, no more tedious measuring and mixing. Anywhere you use ordinary bread crumbs, substitute in the seasoned version. For instance, make this white cheddar souffle with seasoned bread crumbs as a special touch.

5. Olive Oil: Drizzled on fresh tomatoes and mozzarella or as an element of pesto, olive oil adds a fruity, spicy note to otherwise ordinary dishes. A heart-healthy fat, olive oil is a wonderful ingredient to keep around in case of salad emergencies. This raw kale salad gets taken to new heights by just a tablespoon of vibrant olive oil.

With these five ingredients in your pantry, coming up with fantastic, flavorful meals is a breeze.

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