Culinista Kitchen®

Larder Essentials

by The Culinistas

You’ve stocked your kitchen, now it’s time to focus on the pantry and fridge staples, aka the larder. A well stocked larder has all the elements needed to build flavor throughout the cooking process, salt, fat, acid, heat, and umami should all be present. Below are the musts. 

Olive Oil

A good olive oil can’t be beat, we love Kosterina, due to its rounded flavor and versatility. Use it for poaching, dipping, or drizzling. The best part about a three pack of Kosterina? It’ll last you the whole month.


Add brightness to any dish with vinegar. We use sherry vin for romesco dips and champagne vinegar for salad dressings. Apple cider varieties are always nice to have on hand for morning wellness shots or adding to quickly wilted greens eaten over rice. 

Salt and Pepper

You know you need S&P, the question is what kind of S&P? We love Jacobsen for pure kosher sea salt and always have flaky Maldon on hand for finishing. In terms of peppercorns, we lean towards the Malabar variety, due to the slightly fruity, not-so-sneeze-inducing flavor.


Your spice set is an essential part of your larder, we provide a curated La Boite set to our clients that contains Allspice, Cayenne, Onion Powder, Za’atar, Cumin, Urfa, Sumac, a finishing pepper with timut, cumin, garlic and cayenne, and a Solstice Blend with cardamom, allspice and sumac. We create our recipes around some combination of the nine and encourage you to play around until you find your staples.


Let’s talk umami. It’s the fifth flavor (after sweet, salty, sour, and bitter) and creates the satiating savory sensation (say it three times fast) that keeps you coming back for more. Anchovies, when used in sauces, salads, and grains bring the cravable element. If you’re into fishy flavors, leave them whole and use them to top pizzas. If you’re not, don’t write them off; think of them not as a flavor of their own but as an element that enhances and plays with the other flavors present in your dish.


Whole grain mustard is condiment caviar:one of the many reasons you should keep a jar in your fridge at all times. Use it for a punchy chutney atop salmon, a pop of flavor in hearty braised cabbage, or as the backbone to Sunday night salad dressings.


Another umami explosion. Miso is fermented soybean paste, and adds nutty, earthy flavors. Roasted veggies benefit from its application, as do broths, and baked goods!

Lao Gan Ma

This beloved jar of chile crisps deserves a spot in your pantry, if for no other reason than the vibrant red color. Lao Gan Ma adds heat, texture, and umami to anything, it’s a go to for scrambled eggs and noodle dishes, but equally as delicious on fresh fruit, avocado toast, and yogurt based dips.


Don’t forget the honey, honey. Drizzle on greek yogurt and use it in dressings and marinades. We recommend stocking up at the farmers market, and investing in a bottle of infused honey for your fanciest cheese boards.


Add crunch to your dishes with pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds. They’re great for salads and grains, to top overnight oats or a morning smoothie. Plus, nutritional benefits galore. Fiber! Healthy Fats! Minerals!


Ginger lends heat to both savory and sweet dishes and makes an appearance in our Strawberry Bran Muffins and Bok Choy & Grapefruit. A nob lasts longer than it should take you to use it.


We keep a staple grain on hand always! Weeknight dinners become that much easier. We’ve been loving Jade Rice from Lotus Foods lately. And we have our eye on this high tech Japanese rice cooker (also, a Jill kitchen staple since 2008.)

A special thanks to Abi Polinsky for the beautiful photograph.