I started dinner last night by sautéing diced onions and banana peppers in EVOO. (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) As I stirred and sniffed, it occurred to me that was the third night running I had started dinner the same way, with some pretty different outcomes. Last night I was making linguine with white clam sauce, the night before it was chicken fajitas, and the night before that, my own recipe for Stuffed Cabbage Soup - a sort of de-constructed cabbage roll dish.
Right off the top of my head, I can think of several other recipes that start that way; certainly spaghetti sauce and chili, for example. That got me to thinking. What are the absolutely essential ingredients for me to make a tasty meal? What are the things I can't cook without? I used to know a woman who hated onions and refused to cook with them, wouldn't even have them in her house. I was amazed. Really, I just wouldn't cook without onions.
So here is my list of ten essential ingredients. I'm not even going to get into herbs and spices, except to say that everything must be salted and peppered with freshly-cracked pepper.
1. onions - far and away my #1
4. banana peppers
5. EVOO (I prefer Colavita's)
6. homemade chicken stock
7. tomatoes (fresh and canned)
8. mushrooms (fresh and canned)
9. Marsala (which I use in pretty much any recipe that calls for wine)
10. Eggland's Best eggs
I have to admit, I have never used all ten of those ingredients in one recipe, but the first eight sound like the start of something pretty tasty. I'm sure I have probably forgotten something - even though I got up and did a quick tour (a cook's tour) of the kitchen cupboards - and I have probably left out your favorites, as well. So, what are they?