Just because we are leaving the EU it doesn’t mean we have to fall out of love with European food. There are a multitude of European foods that can be stored perfectly in your pantry. Thanks to the EU’s strict food packaging rules, many of our European traditional store-cupboard favourites are suitably packaged to stay fresher for longer, which means they can stay in our pantries long after Brexit.
Here’s a round up of the best pickings from Europe you simply must have in your pantry if you love cooking and food.
The best brands of Italian pasta use homegrown wheat and slow drying processes. Global gourmet food, wine and travel magazine, Saveur lift the lid on the dried Italian pasta food obsessive chefs are crazy about. Mancini’s spaghetti alla chitarra is produced with wheat from Mancini’s own fields in Le Marche, central Italy. If you are snobby about your dried pasta, this is definitely the ultimate pick for your pantry.
Polenta is a traditional Italian ingredient eaten since Roman times as a staple in the northern regions of Italy. So, ingrained in Italian culture, polenta extends as a stereotype for people living in the northern regions of Italy. Apparently, the derogatory term Polentoni is used by southern Italians to describe their northern counterparts.
Once a food essential to many peasant and working class families, polenta now defies its origin and can be found on the menu in many higher-class restaurants, London’s River Café being one of them.
Which country produces the best olives? It’s a hotly debated topic and where you stand on this comes purely down to personal taste. But no one can argue, the world-famous Greek Kalamata olive is up there with the best. The Kalamata olive is definitely one to be kept in the home pantry.
The humble Kalamata has a stronger flavour than most olives and a meaty texture, making them perfect for adding a bit of oomph to a wide range of dishes. Sprinkle whole on salads and add destoned and chopped to rich tomato pasta sauces. As a tapenade, along with posh crackers and a dry champagne, the Greek olive really comes into its own. They’re great in homemade bread and in a hearty fish stew too.
You can buy Kalamata olives fresh in most supermarkets, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with those in jars and packets. Packaged in brine, they have a long shelf life, so you’ll always have some on hand to add a little bit of the Mediterranean to your cooking.
Spanish Paella Rice
If you love entertaining, then you absolutely must have some authentic paella rice in your pantry. Paella is a great sharing dish packed full of flavour and is also a feast for the eyes with its vibrant colours. According to Spanish food supplier, La Tienda, the heart and soul of a great paella is in the broth. We’d add that rice is also fundamental to the success of this dish.
For the best paella rice direct from Spain, go for a bag of Bomba paella rice, or Calasparra. It’s stocked in Waitrose if you don’t fancy seeking out an authentically jute-packaged version. Then again, there’s something rather nice about having a jute bag of Arroz Santo Tomas paella rice in your pantry.
Don’t be tempted to substitute paella rice with any other rice grain. Bomba paella rice has a lower starch content than many of other types of short grain rice. It’s why it works so well in this dish. For a perfect paella you need perfect paella rice. See here for tips on making the perfect paella.
French Herbes de Provences
If there is one blend of herbs you should have in your store cupboard, it’s definitely Herbes de Provence. This versatile blend of herbs includes thyme, rosemary and bay leaf as staple ingredients, along with various combinations of oregano, basil, tarragon, marjoram, savory, sage, fennel and dill. It’s easy to make your own blend according to your tastes.
The blend of herbs is hailed from the Provence region in southeast France, hence the name. It’s a must in the cook’s pantry, lending a delightfully aromatic touch to grilled meats, stews, roasts and fish dishes. No French cook would be without it, so why should you?
What are you top tips for European pantry buys? Do let me know in the comment box below!
See some of my other food posts.