The Pantry Staples Alex Guarnaschelli Says Are Most Underrated - Exclusive

Food Network host Alex Guarnaschelli is known for bringing delicious, accessible, and rich dishes to audiences worldwide — and her work doesn't stop there. Recently, Guarnaschelli joined Tasting Table for an exclusive interview at the New York Wine & Food Festival (NYCWFF) where she was helping to raise money for the charitable organization God's Love We Deliver. Guarnaschelli shared her passion for using food to help others and also provided insight into the underrated pantry staples she always keeps stocked in her kitchen.

One of her go-to ingredients is apple cider vinegar. "Apple cider vinegar can literally do anything, including replace wine in recipes," she told us. It's an excellent ingredient to keep around because it has a long shelf life (roughly two years), has proven health benefits, and can be used as anything from a main component of marinades and salad dressings to a brine for pickling eggs to a substitute for wine, as Guarnaschelli recommends. And that's not all she told us she keeps on hand — she explained why certain types of mustard and flour have a place alongside the vinegar in her pantry.

The unexpected wonders of mustard and flour

The beauty of having an assortment of pantry staples is that they allow you to prepare flavorful dishes at home without the constant need for grocery runs. And while they might not be at the top of everyone's list, Alex Guarnaschelli's two other favorite pantry ingredients besides apple cider vinegar are mustard and Wondra. "Grainy mustard is great for texture, and I like Wondra, the lighter flour," she said.

If you don't often cook with mustard, you may be surprised to learn that there are several different types of mustard with varying textures and flavor profiles. Yellow mustard is the kind we most often associate with cookouts since it's a classic condiment for hot dogs. But Guarnaschelli's choice of grainy mustard — or whole grain mustard — shows off its versatility as an excellent addition to vinaigrettes, meats, seafood, and even egg scrambles. 

Guarnaschelli's preferred flour brand, Wondra, is also the flour brand of choice for some of the most beloved chefs in the culinary world, including Le Bernardin owner Eric Ripert, famed French chef Jacques Pépin, and the late television personality and cookbook author Julia Child. So what makes Wondra so special? It's an instant flour that dissolves and cooks quickly, which prevents dishes from getting lumpy. And as Guarnaschelli noted, Wondra flour is light, which makes it an ideal ingredient for crisping fish or poultry as well as a staple in batters and desserts. No wonder she likes to keep it around!