POPSUGAR Celebrity

10 Versatile Ingredients That Are Always in My Kitchen

Mar 7 2011 - 5:18am

Besides stocking my pantry with party-ready items [1], I also keep several very important ingredients in my kitchen at all times. These are items that I use on a daily basis to make tons of different dishes. Read on to see what they are, and then share your must-have foods in the comments below!

Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan cheese is the most versatile of cheeses. It can be stirred into pasta [2], melted in a grilled cheese, or shaved onto a salad. Its salty and nutty flavor adds depth; if in need of a quick and easy appetizer, all you have to do is grate some and bake it until crisp to make fricos [3]!


Acid is a key component to many dishes. Fresh-squeezed lemon juice provides a tart brightness to pasta, cocktails, sparkling water, and salad dressing.


Pasta is my go-to comfort food. It takes less than 20 minutes to cook a pot of pasta and a sauce can be made with just about anything — from cheese and cream to anchovies and garlic to pesto and vegetables.


Avocados are creamy, rich, and delicious eaten out of hand, or cut into cubes and tossed with greens. When mashed, they are great on sandwiches.


Eggs can be cooked so many ways that it's hard to tire of them. Hard-boiled eggs make a great snack and salad ingredient. Fried eggs are scrumptious served on top of mashed avocado and toast [4]. Scrambled eggs are tasty tossed with cooked pasta. The possibilities are endless!


A salad a day keeps the doctor away! I make sure to eat greens, sometimes tossed with various vegetables and other times coated in a homemade vinaigrette [5], at least once a day. They can also be thrown into pasta, soups, and sandwiches.


Like Emeril Lagasse [6], I love garlic. It's a base element to sauces and vinaigrette and can even be used to infuse oil.


Sometimes the flavor of raw red or white onions is overpowering, which is why I prefer their more mellow cousin, the shallot. Along with the garlic, shallots can make a great pasta sauce or salad dressing.

Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Slightly sweet and coated in oil, sun-dried tomatoes are super flavorful. They're an essential ingredient in my all-time favorite pasta recipe [7] and when out of vegetables, they can be mixed with greens to create an uncomplicated salad.


Although sourdough isn't the healthiest of breads, I always have it on hand. Why? Because I'm crazy for toast [8]. When in a hurry, a grilled cheese sandwich makes a nice meal. If there is any leftover, use it to make croutons or breadcrumbs.

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