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The not-yet-perfect pantry: What's missing? (Recipe: white bean garlic dip) {vegan, gluten-free}


My friend Bob sent me an email last week:

So...... what's going to be the 250th ingredient in your pantry?

I know what you're thinking.

250. Good golly.

It sounds like a lot, but if you've been checking your inventory against mine for the past few days -- and I hope you've had fun doing that -- you've probably discovered that you have a larger-than-you-expected number of ingredients in your own pantry.

So, what's going to be the 250th ingredient? For as much as I keep in the pantry, here are some of the things you noticed that I don't have:

  1. asafoetida
  2. amchur powder
  3. sumac
  4. maras pepper
  5. wasabi powder
  6. poppy seeds
  7. xanthan gum
  8. tonka bean
  9. marmite
  10. tapioca
  11. liquid smoke
  12. Chinese salted dried black beans
  13. miso
  14. kaffir lime leaves
  15. curry leaves
  16. crema Mexicana

What would you like to see added to The Perfect Pantry? What will be #250?

Please leave your vote in a comment, and tell me why. Is there a recipe you like to make, or an ingredient you'd like to learn more about?

White bean garlic dip

Here's a dip, adapted from The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger, made entirely from ingredients already in my pantry. Serves 6-8, with crackers or pita bread.


2 14-oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1-2 Tbsps minced garlic, to taste
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra leaves for garnish


In a food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse until smooth. Adjust seasonings with additional salt, pepper and lemon juice, if needed. Scoop into a serving bowl, garnish with parsley leaves, and serve at room temperature.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Cannellini vinaigrette
Black bean dip
No-cook summer antipasto

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Oh Lydia, I would say miso is a must!! I have discovered some new ways to use them. Just spread the mild one on toast, then some avocado slices, sprinkle with pine nuts. It tastes soooo good! Miso for you ;)!

Miso definitely for #1 and Anh, I'll need to try your suggestion.
#2 liquid smoke
#3 wasabi powder great to add to deviled eggs (carefully!??!!?) or to sprinkle on fish
#4 sumac

Miso, because there are so many different things you can do with it. I got this recipe for asparagus amd miso from the chow site and use it sans the egg. it is really very tasty....at the least, worth trying

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons white miso paste
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 bunch thin green asparagus, bottom ends trimmed (about 1 pound)
2 teaspoons olive oil

more at:

My vote is kaffir lime leaves! I love the citrusy flavor - in some ways it's like lime zest in that you get the flavor without the acidity. But it's flavor is more intense than lime zest.

I used them in my guest post for you for balinese green beans. I also use them to brighten teriyaki sauce, and with Thai Chicken salad.

Kaffir lime leaves! I always have them in my freezer.

Maybe it's a guy thing, but I vote for liquid smoke. When it's raining or during the winter, a few drops allow one to cook barbecue chicken in the oven or pulled meat in a slow cooker with a taste pretty close to the outdoor grill.

I vote for marmite. I actually tried it in the 80s and liked it (about the time that vegemite song was going around). I'm betting you can come up with a perfect recipe, beyond the traditional toast/sandwich preparation!

Being a quarter Czech I couldn't exist without poppy seeds on hand. Gotta have them for rohlicky and sauerkraut/dumplings.

Sumac is interesting, but... miso is *major*. You can even stretch it out a lot with the many varieties...

This recipe sounds great!

I vote for poppy seeds...you never know when you'll get a hankering for Lemon Poppy Seed muffins, or bread, or pound cake... :)

Thanks Lydia for the inspiration! I followed your herb path and was reminded I could freeze my cilantro--which has loved all this rain---in ice cube trays after I pulverize with a bit of olive oil.

Sorry Lydia I would just go up to 265( if I counted correctly) and have it ALL

but if I had to really really choose...xanthan gum...I make my own salad dressing and this keeps they thick but pourable.

I'm voting for liquid smoke and sumac. I love to add a few drops of liquid smoke to chili and taco filling.

The sumac is great sprinkled on a cold pasta or grain salad.

It's been great fun checking out your lists! Now I need to go shopping to add some more things to my pantry :)

I vote sumac, since that's something I've always wondered about.

Lydia- It's gotta be Tonka Beans. They will improve your quality of life; you will be seduced by their aroma. Just wait till you try a Tonka Bean creme brule. Wow.

I'm going to try and get some to you asap.

I have to keep a couple cans of Chiles in Adobo Sauce. Couldn't getalong without them!

Miso and poppy seeds are basics...for all the reasons above, for elegant or hearty miso soup, for miso-tahini spread (1:3, I think -- rich, not salty); poppy seeds for my favorite cake from Diet for a Small Planet, for slaw, for noodles. I have many of the others too, but they await the rare day when they are called upon.
About Tonka Beans: from the Mountain Rose Herbs website --
...because it contains coumarin, which is suspected of being toxic and carcinogenic it is banned from being used as a food ingredient in the US.
It is similar in taste to vanilla. Aimee must live outside the US and have sources which are appropriate for food use.

Liquid smoke! Definitely a necessity. And poppy seeds are just... vital. I could go for some lemon poppy seed muffins any day.

I choose liquid smoke, however, because it can add so much flavor that it's flat ridiculous. I have a very nice mesquite liquid smoke (mesquite is SO tasty, and you can't be a Texan and dislike mesquite). Seeing how I lack a barbecue pit due to apartment living, it's something I can't afford to go without.

I'd love to learn more about asafoetida. I've been intrigued by it for a while but can't quite figure out what it is from reading about it on Indian blogs.

Miso, liquid smoke, poppy seeds, kaffir lime leaves.... all neck-and-neck. I hope we get a few more votes to help me choose!

Hi Kalyn, Asafoetida is dried powdered juice (liquid in roots, stems--I know there's a common word for it but I just can't get my brain to it). Anyway, very strong in the package, like "Super Garlic", but mellows out with cooking. I was raised Buddhist (which is related to Hinduism as Christianity is to Judaism) so I know certain sects avoid garlic & onion because of their blood thinning action. Literally, they get the blood flowing, so they're associated with carnality. Asafoetida doesn't affect the body this way, so Jains for example, regard its use as a religious observance; others, as status indicator. I would guess for many it's customary simply from being around for thousands of years. And it's said to have several folk remedy applications.

Re: #250
Hi Lydia - The list has a sizeable representaton of earthy and astringent flavors. If you're not inticed by these, then why force it? You're obviously doing great stuff with the warm, sweet, floral, pungent, herbaceous et al.

But I will suggest, instead of crema, seek out quark (lightly fermented curd). Even if it doesn't become a staple, it's lovely in a recurring role.

Thanks for the bean dip; pefect for Meatless Monday.

My vote would go for the Salted black beans. I am a huge fan of anything in a black bean sauce! As always so much to learn, thanks for your hard work.

I'm going to play devil's advocate here and vote for tapioca. Yes, it's common (I know) and not nearly as exotic and exciting as some of your other pantry choices, but I'd love to see you feature an unusual tapioca use (as I mostly use it as a thickener vs. say, tapioca pudding).

I have to admit, I've never heard of #1 and didn't know what it was, but a big thank you to Jenna for her comment and excellent explanation. Consider me enlightened.

It has to be liquid smoke, I use it in so many things!

There are a number of ingredients on your list which I use, but the one which has become my absolute favorite these days is kaffir lime leaves. I have a bag of them in the freezer and absolutely love adding them to stir-fry dishes. I've used them in non-traditional ways, too - mostly to add a fresh, citrus note to sauces.

But I have a question for you. What is the difference between kaffir lime leaves and curry leaves? I thought the latter was the common name for the former, as kaffir lime leaves are an essential ingredient in many Thai curry dishes.

ok i know i mentioned wasabi powder to start with but i gotta vote for miso.

i'm in love with spicey miso seafood soup but don't know how to make it. I want to know more about te different types of miso and different applications.

Susan and Jenna, thanks to you both for sharing good information about tonka beans and asafoetida.

Toni, kaffir lime and curry leaves come from different plants, and though both have citrus notes, they are not the same plant.

Everyone, more votes for miso and liquid smoke. Now I'm wondering how to use them together?

No ideas about miso and liquid smoke, but when I was using your spice list to check against mine, I didn't see marjoram on yours. I couldn't do without it for white fish, especially cod, and bread filling (we never ever use sage).

Wow! Can hardly believe I have something you don't.
wasabi powder
poppy seeds
liquid smoke
Of the above, the two I'd have to vote for are tapioca and liquid smoke. You can't beat plan vanilla tapioca when you are sick. Liquid smoke I use in all sorts of places, maybe most often when baking eggplant.
I've been looking for:
kaffir lime leaves
curry leaves

My vote is for the kaffir lime leaves, I keep mine in the freezer but you can also get them dry and keep them in the cupboard. Essential for Thai curries which I make quite often.

Deb, I don't use dried marjoram because I grow several types of oregano in my herb garden and prefer the fresh to the dried. Oregano is a perennial here, so I go with that -- oregano and marjoram are almost exactly the same plant.

MyKitchen, I'll bet there are plenty of things in your baking pantry that I don't have, because you are such a great baker. As for curry and kaffir lime leaves, you might find those in the frozen aisle of an Asian grocery. Both are available online, too. I have a hard time finding fresh leaves here, even in the Asian grocery stores.

I just used tonka beans for the 1st time this week and WOW!

Bean dips are hearty, thick and can be made without mayo...love'em.

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