1. Sun-Dried Tomatoes - Chopped into tiny pieces, we add a few sundried tomatoes along with the garlic when making soups and sauces. They give an extra savory boost to just about any dish. Tomato paste also does the same trick.
2. Capers - A teaspoon of these tiny brined buds goes a long way toward brightening the flavors in a dish. Try them in salad dressings or sprinkled over pasta. We also think capers also make a great substitute for anchovies.
3. Kalamata Olives - Like capers, we find these plump Greek olives give dishes a bright and zingy flavor. One of our favorite things to do is chop olives with a handful of fresh herbs into a paste that can be used on pizza, as a spread on sandwiches, or even swirled into soup.
4. Dried Mushrooms - Dried mushrooms are useful even in dishes that aren't mushroom-focused. One or two dried mushrooms reconstituted in water and minced finely add savory depth. You can also use the soaking water for deglazing pans or making sauces. Try grinding dried mushrooms into powder and sprinkling them into dishes like any other spice.
5. Miso Paste - Miso is often our ace in the hole. It's savory flavor is more subtle than many of these other ingredients, we think. We like that we can make it the showcase ingredient or use it to simply create a savory base to our dishes. We use it in everything from quick soups to glazes to salad dressings.
What are your go-to pantry staples for boosting the flavors in your dishes?