I am one of those people that have cupboards full of food but can’t figure out what to make for dinner.  It seems like I have about ten recipes that I rotate – BORING, so, I was pretty happy to be invited to attend a special event called “Pantry Essentials” held at Nino Salvaggio’s in Clinton Township the other night.

 

Chef Pete Loren, the Director of Culinary Development at Nino Salvaggio’s, shared many of his personal tips for making life easier in the kitchen.  We were also treated to a session on choosing cooking wines presented by Jennifer Laurie, Resident Sommelier at Nino Salvaggio’s.

 

First off, we had the opportunity to wander around the gorgeous store and to check things out.  The store was brimming with so many yummy choices.   Everything looks so fresh!  I spotted one of my favorite items;   Nino’s Chicken Salad!  My sister got me hooked on the chicken salad last year. She has since moved to Grand Rapids and often requests that I bring some whenever I visit.  I like that they carry so many Michigan-made products in the store – from potato chips to wine.

 

Then we got down to business: with Chef Pete sharing tips for improving your cooking life.  Stocking your pantry really comes down to having a great assortment of products and equipment on hand to throw together some great meals. Here is the list of some of Chef Pete’s pantry essentials (it includes more than just food items):

 

 

Dry Pantry Essential Items

 

Seasonings for meat/fish and veggies – a couple of his favorites were “Char-Crust Hickory Rub” and “Nino’s Cajun Blackening Seasoning”

 

Sea Salt or Kosher Salt – for its good clean taste

 

Marinara Sauce – his favorite was “Salvaggio’s Old World Marinara Sauce”

 

Barilla Penne Pasta – for versatility

 

Near East Cous Cous Mix – comes in various flavors, this is one of my favorite side dishes.

 

Balsamic Vinegar – you can use it in dressings, reductions, or with bread and olive oil YUM!

 

 

Refrigerator Pantry Essentials

 

Plugra Salted Butter  

 

Soy Vay Veri-Veri Teriyaki Sauce – used for stir-fry.

 

Flour Tortilla – for roll-ups or quesadilla’s

 

Heavy Cream (at least 40%)

 

 

 

Non-Food Essentials for the Pantry

 

I didn’t really expect him to talk about non-food pantry items but it makes perfect sense – you have to have the right equipment to make your kitchen run smoothly.  Chef Pete’s list of essential kitchen items include the following:  large metal mixing bowls, non-stick pans, large cutting board, plenty of spatula in all sizes, various sizes of whisks, a magnetic knife strip, a good pepper mill and tons of one pint and one quart storage containers.

 

In addition to learning about what to have on had to make a delicious meal, I also picked up a few bonus tips:

 

Great sauces make a dish great – Chef Pete prepares large batches of his favorite sauces and then freezes them in plastic containers.  He uses an ice cream scoop when it comes time to use them.  Some of the sauces can be thinned with water to make a great dressing for salads.  You can find many great recipes on the website including Nino Salvaggio sauces here.

 

I learned that you can get some great deals by shopping at restaurant supply stores.

 

In addition to Chef Pete, we also heard from Jennifer Laurie, Resident Sommelier at Nino Salvaggio’s.  She suggested that once you open a bottle of cooking wine you should use it within a week, maybe make a different sauce with it the next night.   Her picks for great cooking wines were:

 

White Wines –  Xplorador Sauvignon Blanc and 1492’s Chardonnay, Viognier, Chenin Blanc Blend.

 

Red Wines – Pinot Evil and Santa Rita 120 Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

I now feel like I can start whipping up sauces and dressings to perk up my dishes with some of these key ingredients – enough of the same old recipes.

 

At the end of the evening we all received a wonderful goodie bag that included many of the essential pantry items listed above.  I can’t wait to put them to use.

 

My big lessons from the night was to keep certain staples on hand so you can whip a few “go-to” dishes at a moments notice,  a great sauce can makes all the difference in the world and keep your kitchen organized!

 

Connect with Nino Salvaggio’s for tons of information and tips:

You can also connect with Chef Pete and Sommelier Jennifer:

 

To help you stock your pantry Nino Salvaggio is giving away a $50 Nino Salvaggio Gift Card to one of our lucky readers!

Win It!

A Fifty Dollar Nino Salvaggio Gift Card!

Entry Requirements

Tell us, in the comments section below, what your favorite pantry item is or your favorite “go-to” dish.

The Fine Print

No purchase necessary to enter.  One entry per person. Open to legal residents of MICHIGAN, must be least 18 years of age to enter. Winner will be selected randomly through https://random.org. Detroit Mommies writers and contributors are ineligible to participate. Entries that do not follow all of the entry requirements will not be considered. Detroit Mommies is not responsible products shipped from outside vendors or sponsors.  The contest will close on May 30, 2012 @ 11:59:59 p.m. EST and winner selected on May 31, 2012. Winners must respond to Detroit Mommies within 24 hours or an alternate winner will be selected

Disclosure:  I received a good bag full of pantry essentials along with a Gift Card.  However, all photo’s, opinions and views are honest and my own.

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Tim B
Tim B
8 years ago

Our go-to-dish for our kids is macaroni&cheese – I try make from scratch with pasta & cheeses when I’ve got the time

Carol
Carol
8 years ago

my go to is always a balsamic vinegar. Always have my spice rack full of yummy spices to spruce up a dish!

Norman
Norman
8 years ago

Our go-to pantry items include spices on the spice rack.

Ellen
Ellen
8 years ago

Marinara sauce and olive oil are always good to have.

Liz
Liz
8 years ago

My favorite “go-to” dish is honey mustard chicken – easy to make and bake.

Dawn
Dawn
8 years ago

We always have pasta … Always add spices to any meal!

Laura Meils
Laura Meils
8 years ago

We always have olive oil and sea salt . It’s amazing how good things taste with olive oil.

Teresa
Teresa
8 years ago

My pantry staples are minced garlic, onions, and green olives.

Nina M.
Nina M.
8 years ago

My go to pantry item would be a variety of spices. Nothing makes a meal better than some flavor.

Emily M
Emily M
8 years ago

Whole wheat pasta – yum!

Lisa Bell
Lisa Bell
8 years ago

I always have olive oil and balsamic vinegar in my pantry. It is great to marinate a steak or to make a mediterranean salad- cucumbers, halved cherry tomatoes, black olives and feta cheese… Delicious. It is actually making me want to make that for dinner tonight:)

Sara
Sara
8 years ago

Michigan dried cherries are my favorite pantry item. We snack on them, put them in salads and they are delicious and healthy. Way better than fruit snacks. Love Nino’s, just a beautiful place to shop. 🙂

Jody N.
Jody N.
8 years ago

Ravioli pan fried with black truffle oil and minced roasted garlic. The truffle oil and roasted garlic are pantry staples for me.

Shari
Shari
8 years ago

It’s always good to stock your pantry with jars of roasted red peppers – livens up a lot of dishes

Erica Best
Erica Best
8 years ago

brown rice, and onions