This Is The Most Underrated Food, According To Geoffrey Zakarian - Exclusive

Often, when it comes to celebrity chefs, you might assume that they must be constantly eating fancy meals. Whether they're enjoying a meal at a highly-rated restaurant or sampling meticulously-prepared dishes while judging on cooking competitions, certainly their plates must be full of elaborate foods, right? 

For Geoffrey Zakarian, chef, restaurateur, co-host of the Food Network's "The Kitchen," as well as a judge on "Chopped," that's the case most of the time. After all, for Zakarian, his world revolves around cooking great meals and sharing his passion for food, entertaining, and hospitality, while taking care of people. However, that doesn't mean he doesn't go back to basics when the timing is right. In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Zakarian shared his insight by dishing on what he thinks is the most underrated food that people should be buying and cooking more often. And truly, the answer might surprise you.

Chef Geoffrey Zakarian thinks people should be eating more of this canned food

When you think of dinner prep, dry goods such as pasta or rice are typically top of mind, or you may even turn to another canned option such as a delicious soup or canned vegetables. They're an easy go-to, right? But according to Geoffrey Zakarian, there's one category at the grocery store that people are missing out on. Zakarian explained that he loves all things in a can, from beans and chickpeas to black peas. "You don't have to go through the trouble of cooking them, and a lot of the nutrients are still in them," he said. Plus, utilizing a can of black beans or chickpeas adds great protein to a recipe (via Healthline).

In addition to canned items, Zakarian says the entire legume category, including dried peas and dried lentils, are often forgotten about. "All the legumes that are cooked and uncooked are really so inexpensive," he said. "You can do so much with them."

Don't underestimate tuna, according to Geoffrey Zakarian

For many people, turning to canned items such as meats and seafood isn't really a consistent practice. However, Geoffrey Zakarian is on a mission to change that perspective. Canned tuna is one of his favorite foods, and he believes people should definitely be incorporating it into their meals more often.

According to Zakarian, he experiments in the kitchen all the time, and he's a big fan of the Mediterranean diet. And as he's following that diet, canned tuna, particularly Genova Premium Tuna, certainly becomes top of mind. "[It's] a great way to bring a Mediterranean flair to a simple dinner, whether it's a special occasion or not," he said. "It really elevates a dish from good to great."

Zakarian's go-to canned tuna is made with great cuts of fish, hand-filleted, and drizzled with olive oil instead of water. And not only does it add great flavor to a dish, but canned tuna also adds nourishment to any meal. "You really can't go wrong," he added. "I've been eating it for many, many years."

Here's what should really be in your pantry

Zakarian swears by incorporating canned tuna into his diet, along with embracing a full variety of legumes from a can. But he also has one more tip for people hoping to elevate their experience in the kitchen, along with their relationship with food.

One of his most important tips he shares with people is to clean out your pantry and restock it with only the best ingredients. "If you're going to cook, you want to cook really well ... don't try to get things that are inexpensive," he said. "Get the best [ingredients], get a small amount versus a large amount, and remember that anything you cook, you have to cook more than once."

Items like canned legumes or canned tuna can certainly be found on grocery store shelves at rock bottom prices, and it's totally fine to incorporate those items into a meal. However, if you really want to elevate your cooking, take Zakarian's word for it by finding the best options to stock your pantry to produce truly incredible dishes.

For simple, go-to recipe ideas from Geoffrey Zakarian, check out his most recent collaboration with Genova Premium Tuna.