Stocking a Vegan Kitchen
Vinegars & Sauces
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
A mild, sweet cider flavor. Add it to almond milk to mimic buttermilk for breads and desserts.
Balsamic vinegar is aged in wooden barrels and has a rich, slightly sweet taste and is ideal for dressings and marinades.
Champagne vinegar is light and delicate and works well in light dressings.
HOT PEPPER SAUCES
Some of my favorites are Tabasco® by McIlhenny Co., Sky Valley Sriracha® sauce by Organicville®, and Sambal Oelek® chili paste.
A sweet, low alcohol rice wine for use in marinades, stir-fry and salad dressings.
RED WINE VINEGAR
Buy the best quality available. Try a Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar elaborated from a fine wine with added mint. There are many choices especially in red wine vinegars.
Rice vinegar is delicate in flavor which goes nicely in salads, marinades and dressings.
This or any flavored vinegar can add depth and a little sweetness to dressings and marinades.
SOY SAUCE or TAMARI
A salty condiment that comes in light and dark varieties that adds a salty, earthy depth of flavor to so many dishes. Tamari is soy sauce that is made with little or no wheat. The naturally brewed products such as San J and Nama Shoyu are standards in my pantry.
WHITE BALSAMIC VINEGAR
White balsamic vinegar has a milder taste and is good for light dressings and marinades. Alessi white balsamic vinegar is used in Roasted Garlic Hummus Dressing.
Great old stand-by. White vinegar is usually made from grain, such as malt, corn or rice. Good quality white vinegar is a entirely clear liquid. There are many variations in acidity and mineral content. Choose a milder brand for most uses.
VEGAN WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE
Worcestershire sauce is usually made with anchovies, so be certain to select a vegan brand, such as The Wizards®. The less oil used to create a dish the better. When sautéing, try using only one tablespoon of oil, if at all, preferring to replace oil with vegetable broth, water or wine. When baking or roasting, try to use condiments like mustards, vinegars, pesto, soy sauce, or minced garlic. You will be amazed how little oil is missed in most dishes.
Canola oil is ideal for sautéing or stir-frying when the flavor should be mild and as unobtrusive as possible. Brands such as Spectrum® or Whole Foods® Grocery 365 Brand® work well for this purpose.
ROASTED SESAME OIL
A thick brown oil with a very distinctive taste and intense nutty flavor, this oil makes marinades sing. However, it burns easily and should not be used for cooking, just for flavor. A little goes a long way.
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Least refined olive oil from the first pressing and the purest of taste. Flavors can be lost when overheated.
Peanut oil has a mild flavor and good in delicately flavored foods. Peanut oil can be used for frying because it doesn’t burn easily at high temperatures.
Walnut oil has a soft delicious aroma. Nut oils are for seasoning not for cooking. Use for dressings or to drizzle over greens. Keep refrigerated. Nut oils quickly go rancid after opening. It should always smell fresh and nutty.
GRAPE SEED OIL
Grape seed oil has the highest burn threshold so is good for sautéing and frying. It is clear oil that is light in taste and great to use in salad dressings.
Spectrum® brand canola cooking spray has given me the most consistent results.
A couple that are basic and easy on the palette include Simply Organic Vegetable Seasoning® and McCormick Spicy Steak®.
For a change of pace, try Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning®, but only when salt content isn’t a consideration.
Burritos® and Old El Paso Taco Seasonings® are brands that do not include milk in their list of ingredients. Try making your own mix starting with the recipe for Deb’s Taco Seasoning.
FRESH JALAPEÑOS or SERRANO CHILES
Chiles are the perfect seasoning for the little kick they can give a soup or dish. Don’t be afraid that jalapeños are too hot for you until you try them. They have been bred to be milder than they used to be. If you want more heat, use just the seeds and membrane from the center or substitute Serrano chiles which are usually hotter with a great chili flavor.
Dried or Fresh Spices
From the cayenne pepper plant. Very hot and spicy, but great to use a sprinkle here and there.
A pure lightly toasted ground powder that combines ground, dried chiles with spices such as cumin, garlic, oregano, and coriander. New Mexican chili powder is fragrant, sweet and a little hotter. Pasilla chili powder is milder.
Jalapeño peppers that have been smoked. You can buy a small can with added adobo sauce. They are very hot but add a delicious smoky flavor to salsas, beans or soups.
A mild, sweet herb with a fine grass-like appearance and a flavor similar to an onion. Easy to grow in an herb garden and can be used in many dishes.
A green, leafy herb, resembling flat-leaf parsley, with a sharp aromatic flavor. Use carefully when serving guests since cilantro’s distinctive flavor can be unpalatable to some palates.
Ground or in sticks.
A strong-flavored, tart seed that works well in spicy dishes. Use it lightly since it can overwhelm other seasonings.
A spice blend available in a wide variety. Experimentation will be necessary to find blends which suit your personal taste. Freshness is the key word when choosing curries.
Fresh or dried.
An herb and a spice. The anise-flavored seeds add fragrance to dishes. Ground fennel can be found in Deb’s Seasoning.
Also called flat-leaf parsley, has more flavor than the common curly-leaf parsley. Sweet, fresh flavor. Fresh is best and can be grown at home year-round.
A sweet, mild and aromatic herb that can be used in place of oregano which has a stronger and harsher flavor. Dried or fresh.
Use whole nutmeg seeds so you can grind it yourself when needed because it loses its flavor fast after grinding. A fine blade zester works well for this.
ONION POWDER and GARLIC POWDER
Fresh onions and garlic are by far best for most recipes, but these bottled spices can be used when fresh is not available.
Made from dried paprika pepper and available in sweet, mild, hot and smoky forms. Flavors are used at different times through this collection of recipes.
Fresh ground is best, but a coarse grind of bottled pepper is best if fresh is not available.
RED PEPPER FLAKES
Coarsely ground flakes of dried red chiles, including the seeds. Use when a hot, spicy flavor is desired.
The most expensive spice in this list, it adds a distinctive flavor and color to dishes.
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Hard to find, but if you have an herb garden you can buy seeds and grow it yourself. Milder and a little sweeter than regular basil.
A good addition to most dishes. Dried or fresh.
A vivid yellow powder that adds color and has a mild, warm flavor.