5 key ingredients to have on hand

Dorothy Lane offers tasty advice.

The road to unhealthy eating is paved with good intentions.

Sure, we all want and intend to eat healthier, but the fast-paced world we live in often results in a trip to the closest fast-food restaurant, followed by in-car dining on the way to a Little League baseball game.

However, Dorothy Lane Market (Far Hills Avenue, Oakwood) corporate chef Carrie Walters gives her recommendations for five key ingredients to always have on hand to whip up a quick and healthy meal for the entire family.

1. Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) boneless, skinless chicken breasts: “Chicken breasts that are individually frozen give the family cook lots of option because they defrost quickly and can be recipe ready in minutes. Plus, there are so many options on how to use them for dinner. Julienned for a quick stir-fry, pounded cutlets that can be sautéed over high heat, kid friendly oven baked strips or even grilled chicken teriyaki — all easy and delicious!”

2. Marinara sauce: “Besides the obvious choice for just pouring over pasta, I use this as a base sauce for making a quick ciopinno (seafood stew), pantry friendly clam sauce or my own version of classics sauces like arrabiata (a red Italian sauce with a spicy kick) or vodka sauces. I also use this as a base for braciole (an Italian dish featuring thinly sliced meat), chicken Parmesan or meatball subs.”

3. Eggs: “When my kids were smaller we’d often do breakfast for dinner. Now it’s nice to use eggs as a base for a frittata (an open face omelet) using up whatever leftovers, cheese or veggies I happen to have on hand. I like to add a poached egg on top of a simple salad for a delicious lunch or a light simple dinner.”

4. Chicken stock: “I use this to make a quick soup with whenever I need to clean out my refrigerator. It can be used as a base for a quick pasta sauce with sauteed veggies and whatever protein you happen to have on hand. It makes simple rice dishes delicious and full of flavor. You can also make a simple sauce to complement chicken or pork.”

5. Pasta: “I have several shapes on hand in my pantry on any given day. Besides using pasta as the main course, smaller shapes make fun side dishes as well as pasta salad. You don’t need a lot of ingredients to make some dynamite pasta dishes — one of my favorites is grated pecorino Romano cheese, a little olive oil and black pepper! Simple, high quality ingredients can really make a pasta dinner that is easy and delicious.”

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