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Do you have never-fail last-minute pantry dinners? Here are mine...

I'm always looking for tasty, easy, healthy dinners that only use things I always have on hand (the ultimate home cook challenge, as far as I'm concerned). I've figured out a few over the years, but I need to refresh my supply of emergency recipes. My whole pantry list is way too long to put here, but it includes all the stuff you might think, plus some odd things that have proved their value over the years.

The basic requirement for these recipes, as far as I'm concerned, is that they call for no fresh produce or meat, just things that can stay in the pantry for months, waiting to be called into service at the end of a long work day. I include frozen things that can be thawed quickly (no big hunks of frozen meat), and things that have a very long life in the fridge or cupboard (potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, lemons, eggs, hard cheese).

Here's what I make that I can think of right now(I can elaborate on the recipes if needed, but you'll get the idea)... A lot of these recipes can be improved a lot with the addition of fresh veg, but we eat them this way all the time. Hey, I'm not proud. Sometimes it's more about getting something that looks like it could be dinner on the table than it is about perfect planning and exquisite food.

BBC pasta:
whole wheat pasta, canned tomatoes, tinned sardines (little ones!), capers, grated parmigiano

Salmon Cakes:
canned salmon, egg, mashed potato, garlic, any handy seasonings
(served with whole frozen green beans)

Sausage-Lentil Soup:
individually frozen sausages, canned tomatoes, onion, lentils, frozen spinach, broth

Spinach Frittata:
frozen spinach, eggs, garlic, parmigiano, onion
(served with some sort of light soup or just toast)

Shrimp Curry:
individually-frozen shrimp, coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, carrots, onions

Egg and Pepper Pasta:
whole-wheat pasta, softly-fried eggs, garlic, jarred roasted red peppers, breadcrumbs

Arroz con Capetes (cooked like a paella):
salt cod, rice, garbanzo beans, jarred roasted red peppers, homemade broth

Spinach Pine Nut Orzo:
Orzo, frozen spinach, anchovies, garlic, toasted pine nuts

So, help me out! What do you make?

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  1. Defintitely pasta w/either a red or an herbed, garlic, olive oil sauce; beans w/sausages and frozen greens; and omeletes or frittatas.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rosielucchesini

      Soak rice noodles, whatever broth out of a box, frozen spinach, seasoning of your choice (soy, kecap manis, mirin, dashi, etc.) and quartered hard-boiled eggs.

    2. pasta with homemade tomato sauce
      fish tacos using fish sticks, sour cream, lime and cilantro--it really is good!
      ramen with lots of variations
      whole-wheat penne with chopped green olives, tuna, bit of lemon, olive oil
      WW penne with red pepper flakes, pine nuts, garlic, anchovies olive oil. YUM

      those are just a few!

      6 Replies
      1. re: IndyGirl

        IndyGirl, my husband loves fish tacos. What an interesting idea. Can you explain how you put those together? I haven't had fish sticks in the house in years!

        1. re: mrsmegawatt

          Here's the original recipe; it's adaptable to what you have on hand in most instances. YUM!
          Fish Tacos and Cilantro Coleslaw, 20 Minutes Max
          4 tacos
          25 min 5 min prep
          4 frozen battered fish fillets
          4 8-inch flour tortillas
          1/4-1/3 head green cabbage
          2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
          1 green onion, sliced or minced
          1 teaspoon chopped jalapenos or serrano chilies, to taste
          1 tablespoon mayonnaise
          1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
          1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds or 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
          salt and pepper, to taste
          Bake fish fillets according to package directions.
          Wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and place them in the oven to heat.
          Or heat them at the last minute in a microwave in plastic wrap.
          Shred or chop the cabbage.
          In a medium bowl, combine the cabbage with all the remaining ingredients.
          Cut each hot fish fillet into 6-8 pieces, then pile into a hot tortilla with lots of slaw.

          1. re: IndyGirl

            Oh my god, i'm going to plan to make this dinner. yum!!!

            1. re: amyvc

              :) I hope you enjoy it! I'm so glad people saw it and it made their mouths water. My SO hates this meal but I love it....more for me!

            2. re: IndyGirl

              Thanks Indygirl! I'm going to try it and surprise my husband!

          2. re: IndyGirl

            I recently bought frozen breaded haddock fillets from Whole Foods that I bet would be delicious in your version of fish tacos!

          3. in our house pantry dinners equate frittatas, pasta, soups, or once in a blue moon, sandwiches.
            Recently I've made a sweet potato, black bean, and habanero frittata then an apple, caramelized onion and cheddar one. My husband tried a pesto, spinach, tomato, bread, garlic and parmesean concoction that was great. Soup-wise our favorite is roasted red peppers (canned for fast dinners, though fresh is better!), onions, veggie broth, salt and pepper, and cream. It's a nice and tasty roasted red pepper soup.

            4 Replies
            1. re: odkaty

              Recently I've made a sweet potato, black bean, and habanero frittata then an apple, caramelized onion and cheddar one.

              these both sound SO good. Could you help me out a little with the measurements--even just guesstimations would be fine. I can (and do) wing it quite a bit.

              1. re: nissenpa

                I "wing" everything :D That said ...

                The black bean frittata recurs regularly. Heat 2-3 tbsp corn oil in the cast iron skillet over med/high then add finely diced habanero and 1/4-1/2 onion (upward if feeding 2 or more). Once that's sauteing I add cumin, coriander, red pepper, and salt to taste. Chop a sweet potato (which if isn't a left over roasted has been microwaved to 1/2 cooked) into small-ish bite-size chunks. Toss that with the pan's contents. Add a 15 oz can's worth of black beans (drained) - I use pre-cooked/frozen occasionally too. I let those simmer for a few minutes while I prep the eggs. I figure 2 eggs per person if it's a starch/protein heavy frittata (veggie heavy gets 3) so those get mixed with a bit more salt, sometimes a bit of pepper jack if I'm in the mood.

                For 3 people as the only dish the apple, caramelized onion, cheddar frittata is 3+ big apples. Last time I think I used jonagolds. Plus 1/2-3/4 red onion or vidalia (I prefer the red, others in the household prefer the vidalia, the goal is not too acidic!) I add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup grated cheddar to the eggs. The first time I made it I was a bit timid about the spices, since then ... cinnamon and salt are great, cumin (my favorite!) is good, thyme was really nice. Just go with the flow. Oh, and after caramelizing the onions, just before adding the eggs I turn up the heat to add the apples so they're slightly crisp in the final product.

                1. re: odkaty

                  Thank you so much!! I'm going to try both these out next week. I can't wait!

                2. re: nissenpa

                  That sounds so very good. Recipe please! I love frittata's.

              2. Pasta puttenesca and pasta with tuna and beans are my favorites.

                1 Reply
                1. re: JasmineG

                  puttenesca is a killer pantry meal.

                2. Pasta with butter and some grated parmesan on top. Oh wait, not terribly healthy, but it is good.

                  Tuna and chickpea salad - canned tuna fish (drained if you have the tuna packed in water, undrained if the tuna's in olive oil) mixed with chickpeas (drained and rinsed, if canned) and a diced onion (I like it sauteed, although I have friends who like it raw). A squeeze of lemon juice if you have it. Olive oil if you used the tuna packed in water. Salt and pepper to taste.

                  I also like making a tomato sauce with canned tuna and red pepper flakes.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: jacinthe

                    I'm a pasta with butter and parm girl as well. Or you can add some beaten egg and some bacon (I usually have bacon in the freezer) and make carbonara. I almost always have frozen peas, which are good tossed with pasta and cheese, and I also try to keep frozen artichoke hearts (sautee with some butter and garlic, toss with pasta and cheese). Other things that are good with pasta that are commonly found in my fridge are roasted red peppers, olives, and some kind of sausage.

                    When I'm really scraping the bare cupboard, rice with canned tuna (toss it with the hot rice to heat through) and a generous dollop of soy sauce is real "comfort food."

                  2. Red Lentil daal-
                    Onions, garlic, REd lentils, coconut milk, and Garam Masala

                    Chicken soup -
                    I have some "Better than Bullion" - First I sautee- onions, carrots, and celery then I throw in some water and then add better than bullion. Then comes a starch - rice, or noodles. This always hits the spot.

                    Last minute hummos is also a great option -- chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic - when I don't have tahini, I'll throw in a little bit of sesame oil.

                    Crab Cakes - Canned Crab, breadcrumbs, egg, serve with hot sauce.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Marianna215

                      daal is a good one -- when I am hard up, it's been known to go as simply as red lentils & smoked salt, that's it.

                    2. I like pasta tossed with uncooked sauce of canned tuna, olive oil, lemon juice, capers, black pepper and sometimes Parm. Optional olives or sundried tomatoes.

                      This is a very good pasta with bacon and pepperonccini - I often make this one on purpose - Lidia Bastianich’s Capellini Capricciosi

                      I only will eat frozen spinach as a desparation dinner, wish it wasn't so tough and woody. Do you have any brand that is better than others?

                      I love Deborah Madison's Carmelized Onion Frittata with toasted Walnuts and finished with a bit of sherry vinegar.

                      You can do a brothy lentil soup (canned chix stock) with sauteed onion and curry powder, bit of diced canned tomato and frozen spinach soup. Great finished with lemon juice, but red or white wine vinegar would work well. This is great with fresh spinach.

                      Don't forget that vaccume sealed goat and feta keep for weeks. The feta can be kept well beyond the date stamp--it just gets aged.

                      I've also found that the Trader Joes frozen sliced multicolored peppers do pretty well in cooked dishes.

                      I used to make a soup from the C. Claiborne NY Times that used anchovies and stale bread. I'd like to try this again if I can dig out that book.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: coconutz

                        I agree about normal frozen spinach. It's dreadful stuff.

                        I can't always find it, but my Whole Foods sometimes has "whole leaf" frozen spinach. I think it's Cascadian Farms? It's quite nice, but I still wouldn't want to eat it plain as a side dish. I find it fine for mixing into things. I've also found that there are varying qualities of regular frozen spinach. "Cut leaf" is better than "chopped," which usually means, "mauled and shredded"

                        1. re: coconutz

                          I've found that if frozen spinach is defrosted too quickly it turns into something horror films are made of :D But when I allow it a good 10 minutes on low in the microwave it remains edible.

                          1. re: coconutz

                            I like Trader Joe's frozen chopped leaf spinach. Comes in a 16oz. bag, all leaves no stems. I use it for frittatas and creamed spinach all the time.

                            1. re: coconutz

                              Coconutz, the NYT Cookbook recipe for soup with anchovies and stale bread sounds great. However, I cannot find it in my NYT Cookbook. Could it be in the more recently published one? Mine is from the 60's.

                              1. re: oakjoan

                                No mine is an old copy, I found it in the 70's. It is packed away. The author/editor is Craig Claiborne.

                            2. 1) Instant corn chowder using canned cream-style corn and an equal amount of milk then slightly thickened with instant mashed potato. Add any odds & ends of bacon, ham, sausage etc and some chopped scallions or whatever. 2) Orange Chicken, Beef, or Shrimp using whichever meat you have in the freezer and Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chef Sauce--- saute the meat, and add a couple of spoonfuls of the sauce, season with extra garlic powder and hot chili, and serve with rice.

                              1. i can always whip up a good soup or omlette, I'm also a big fan of the defrost dial on the microwave. I've found that if you take those big chunks of ground meat and flatten them and then store in a zip lock bag. They thaw much faster and more evenly.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: othervoice

                                  It's true. There could be a whole different thread about Freezer Strategy! My favorite tip is to freeze sausages on a cookie sheets, than bag 'em once frozen. Makes it easy to grab one or two and thaw them quickly.

                                2. Pasta with tomatoes, chickpeas, lots of garlic and herbs...usually use dry herbs plus a bunch of fresh parsley and a squeeze of lemon, but you can do it with all dry herbs if need be. Good drizzle of olive oil, some parm. This is what I always fall back on. Coconutz, I like the sound of your uncooked tuna sauce. I'm going to have to try that next time.

                                  2 Replies
                                    1. re: coconutz

                                      Thanks...I think I may have made this a couple years back...

                                  1. Butternut Squash Soup - Frozen Butternut Squash, chicken broth, an onion if i have it, and then topped with a dallop of yogurt or sour cream that has been stirred with a touch of maple syrup.

                                    Black Bean Soup - Salsa, canned black beans, chicken broth, a squeeze of lime, sour cream

                                    1. One of my favorite dishes in the world is spaghetti tossed with olive oil, grated pecorino cheese and black pepper. Trader Joe’s has small tubs of good pecorino; one is always in the fridge because of this dish. Simple and wonderful.

                                      Also, this lemon pasta by Giada De Laurentiis is very easy, made with pantry items and is just terrific. The one item that might not always be in the pantry, the basil, is fine to omit. I like it by itself, but it is also a great side/accompaniment to a broiled or grilled steak:

                                      2/3 cup olive oil
                                      2/3 cup garted Parmesan Cheese
                                      1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 or 3 lemons), with zest from lemons
                                      1 t salt or to taste
                                      1 t black pepper or to taste
                                      1 pd dried spaghetti
                                      1/3 cup chopped basil

                                      - Start water to boil
                                      - Whisk oil, cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper in large bowl to blend.
                                      - Boil spaghetti. Drain, reserving a cup of cooking water.
                                      - Add spaghetti to sauce and toss, adding lemon zest and basil at the end. Add a little bit of cooking water to moisten if need be.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Tom P

                                        Trader Joes has frozen cubes (1 teaspoon, I think) of basil, cilantro and parsley (maybe more), that I keep in my freezer to use when fresh isn't available. I consider them, like many things at TJs, a godsend.

                                      2. Here's a delicious and different version of salmon cakes. Sort of a salmon cakes with a falafel flavor. I made these for dinner last night and served on a bed of lettuces and everyone raved. Just leave out anything fresh that you don't have on hand and wing it with the sauce. I usually have yogurt or sour cream on hand but you could use bottled tartar sauce or a mayo blend. Here's the original recipe from Cooking Light Magazine:

                                        Here's my version. I've never used canned salmon. Trader Joes sells vaccume sealed frozen salmon in one pound portions for about $5. They defrost and cook very quickly in the microwave.

                                        Mediterranean Salmon Cakes with Yogurt Sauce.

                                        2/3 cup diced cucumber
                                        2/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
                                        1 garlic cloves, crushed

                                        SALMON CAKES:
                                        1 lb cooked flaked salmon
                                        1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
                                        1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (about 2 (1-ounce) slices
                                        )1/4 cup chunky green or black olive tapanade
                                        1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
                                        1/4 cup sliced green onion or minced onion
                                        2 tablespoons lemon juice
                                        1 teaspoon hot sauce
                                        1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
                                        1/4 teaspoon salt
                                        1 or 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
                                        vegetable oil, as needed for frying

                                        These must be squeezed firmly into patties and turned carefully as they tend to fall apart easily. I don't mind if it does, just scatter over spring salad greens.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: coconutz

                                          Sounds interesting! Do you crush up the garbanzos at all? Have you ever tried more egg for binding (and letting the mix sit a little bit before frying), or is falling apart inevitable?
                                          I'm thinkin' that those frozen green chickpeas that TJ's has been carrying might be just the thing for these. :)

                                          1. re: another_adam

                                            Yes I actually do try to crush a bit of them but they are mostly whole. The TJ's ones in cans are on the smaller side which is nice for this. I have added more egg and more breadcrumbs but they remain fragile and one or two will crumble unless I'm careful. Sitting or not does not affect that. I don't have experience cooking with green chickpeas. I've only tasted them fresh and raw.

                                        2. Funny that I'm reading this tonight. I had a panty dinner this eveing after a long day. I make a quick salmon soup = it's even easier than salmon cakes. Chop onions, potatoes and a little celery and simmer in water to cover until tender. Add canned salmon with some of the juice and canned milk (I don't know why it has to be canned milk - but this was the way my grandma always made it) and cook a few minuntes longer. Add a tablespoon on butter and lots of black pepper. Tonight I had some fresh dill to use so I added a touch of that too. It is so easy and satisifying on a cold day.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: JennyHunter

                                            I find this recipe intriguing-- the exact same thing was a perennial standby in my house growing up (we called it "fish potatoes") except... our version didn't have the fish in it! Just potatoes and onions, some seasoning, and milk or sour cream. Naturally, as kids we would always ask why fish potatoes had no fish in it, and were just told it was an age-old mystery of the universe, like why is the sky blue. I wonder if something like this salmon soup is its true origin of fish potatoes?
                                            We had salmon patties quite often too, so I don't think it was because canned salmon was unavailable or too expensive... maybe somewhere along the line someone decided they just didn't like the fish part of the soup and started leaving it out!

                                            1. re: another_adam

                                              My grandma also made a soup that you are describing without the salmon - which was pretty much a very basic potato soup. Sometimes she would add what we always called "lumps" which were basically litle dumplings of flour, egg & water she would add to the hot soup and cook a few minutes. They are so simple, but really satisfying for me in the winter. And when i was pregnant and had morning sickness, the plain potato version was one of the few things I could eat b/c it was bland. I lived on it for a few weeks!

                                              1. re: JennyHunter

                                                Oh! were they also called "fish potatoes"?
                                                (As you can tell I've always been quite curious about this name, maybe especially because we were *not* supposed to question it :) )

                                                1. re: another_adam

                                                  We just called them lumps - but that might have been a name my cousing gave the dumplings. And we always just called the soup potatoe soup I think. Never used the name "fish potatoes"...sorry!! Try it sometime with the salmon. You'll be surprised :)

                                          2. My favorite pantry meal has to start in the morning and cook in the slow cooker, but then its done when you get home. I do black bean soup in the crockpot and it is really great. Saute onions, bell peppers, and some kind of hot pepper (I often use jarred jalepeno slices from Trader Joe's), add cumin. Put a pound of black beans in the pot, top with the onion mixture, and then add 7 cups of either water or boxed stock (I prefer vegetable stock). Turn it on high and 6 hrs later you've got really tasty black bean soup. I like to give it a couple zaps with the stick blender before serving to thicken it up, and top with plain yogurt or sour cream, or grated cheddar and a squeeze of lime. It's an easy, healthy, and very cheap meal.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: chaussonauxpommes

                                              Chicken Tortilla Soup - that's what gets me the Ooos and Aahhhhs . . .

                                            2. Lately it's been chicken pot pie. Whenever i make pie or a tart or quiche I always make extra dough (a quadruple batch in the old kitchenaid) and freeze it so it's always on hand (i use julia's mastering the art of french cooking recipe, and sweet or savory, it gets raves), the rest is butter, onion, flour, chicken stock, carrots, frozen peas, pearl onions, and chicken breasts, and salt and pepper. All of which are always in the pantry, fridge or freezer. I throw in a little half and half and maybe some parsley (or not), and it's off to the races. I use Ina's recipe (which says feeds four....four what i don't know. I've gotten 9 very healthy servings out of it. I actually have to put it in a 9 by 13 pan and cover that with dough). It's a very forgiving and delicious recipe.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: eLizard

                                                That sounds great eLizard, but the OP specified no fresh meat or produce. Nevertheless, I really need to try this one of these days...

                                                1. re: prunefeet

                                                  yes, i'm not the most careful reader, but i maintain that onions and carrots are pantry items and that frozen chicken breasts (or left over cooked chicken) is my loophole!

                                              2. oh yeah, and souffles..... eggs and cheese and milk. always have those on hand. and let me tell you.....very impressive. and very easy.

                                                1. Great ideas here. I'd just add my broccoli soup. Saute onion in butter and/or olive oil, add broccoli florets, broth just to cover, simmer till broccoli is soft, season to taste with salt and pepper. Puree with the immersion blender. Add milk, cream, or cheese, or not.

                                                  By the way, if you don't have broccoli, this also works with cauliflower, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, zucchini (great with watercress too), red lentils, mushrooms, or some combination of these. Vary the seasonings (thyme, curry, rosemary, garlic, ginger...), and you can make an endless variety of soups.

                                                  I would also mention kimchee jigae. I tried making this for the first time last night (thanks to another_adam), and it was fantastic, quick, and I used some pork that I had in the freezer (easier to slice thinly when it's frozen). Lovely!

                                                  1. Giant baked Greek-style beans (1 jumbo can) w tomato sauce (1 tiny can)
                                                    spiced up with chopped sundried tomato, oregano, and mint (from a mint teabag!) topped with a little olive oil, salt & pepper. Baked 45 minutes in a covered casserole dish.
                                                    + a side of frozen whole leaf spinach cooked in a saucepan with S & P and a tiny bit of water.

                                                    Extra-firm tetra-pak pasteurized Tofu, poached egg, wakame seaweed, frozen peas n corn, a little white pepper & sesame oil... and uhhhhh.... instant noodles. See other chow favorites how to make instant ramen at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/337183

                                                    1. I made this today, it ws a big batch--you could reduce (and don't needall the fishies). It's delicious, easy, and full of healthy seafood (I'm trying to up my intake of sardines, mackerel, anchovies, etc).

                                                      One big can ground peeled tomatoes--I happened to have a 6+ lb can, but you could use 2 or 3 of the 28 oz size.

                                                      head (yes a head) of garlic
                                                      one (14oz) can of mackerel
                                                      one 6 oz can of italian tuna in oil--tonno
                                                      one can anchoves
                                                      one/two can sardines
                                                      olives (and their brine) to taste
                                                      Capers to taste
                                                      Herbs (I used dried today, but use fresh when I have them: basil, parsley, bit of oregano, crushed red) Sea Salt, fresh ground pepper--all to taste)

                                                      Cook garlic in the bottom of your sauce pot covered in half water, half EVOO until soft, add tomatoes, fishies (I crush the bones and use those too) and their oil or water from can, then herbs, olives capers.
                                                      at least
                                                      Bring up th eheat to almost boil then simmer 30 minutes, but for as long as you like if you have more time

                                                      If I had red wine, I would have added--but there's so much flavor going on with above it's not really missed.

                                                      Very tasty over your favorite linguine or penne and a side of broccoli, kale or other green.

                                                      I had some for lunch with fettucini shaped shiratki noodles (go figure!) and it was delish.

                                                      Plenty of leftovers to freeze and healthy!

                                                      1. I love how everyone loves some variation on tuna/capers/anchovy/tomatoes/olives!

                                                        There are a lot of great ideas here.

                                                        In the summer, I love soba noodles with soy sauce-vinegar-sesame seed oil-sesame seeds and whatever green veggies look good at the bodega on my way home from work. Korean rice cake-and-dumpling soup, made with frozen homemade stock, frozen homemade dumplings, and frozen rice cakes. Bulgur with pinenuts and pomegranate molasses. Bissara, the fava bean soup with garlic, lemon, and harissa. I've recently discovered mapo tofu is very easy last-minute, and so happy with the discovery!

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: AppleSister

                                                          Do you use canned fava beans? frozen? The dried ones always look intimidating to me, and the only other ones I've noticed have been fresh (but I've never searched for them, so there could be a whole world of convenient fava beans out there!) Bissara sounds *delicious*.

                                                          1. re: Tartinet

                                                            I buy dried split fava beans, and these don't need to be soaked. Obviously takes a bit more time then some of the quick meals posted here, but if you can just leave it on the stove to simmer. Really one of the easier beans to deal with.
                                                            I also love buy canned fava beans that have been made into foul mudammus, sauteeing some chard to serve as a bed for the beans.

                                                          2. re: AppleSister

                                                            AppleSister, would you share your recipe for Bissara / fava bean soup? It sounds wonderful!


                                                            1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                              I'm no expert on Middle Eastern food, and I've noticed that there are a ton of variations online. I've used this recipe from Claudia Roden:

                                                              The recipe tells you to make a spicy sauce of its own, but I've been thinking about just trying harissa. I want to try this one recipe also, which adds tomato paste and uses harissa:


                                                              1. re: AppleSister

                                                                Thank you, thank you, thank you for the links to the Bissara recipes! I've had a bag of dried fava beans in my pantry for months - now I know what I'm going to make with it.


                                                                1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                                  You're welcome! I know the feeling of having a bag of beans just sitting in your pantry...

                                                          3. Fiesta Salad
                                                            1 can whole corn
                                                            1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
                                                            8 oz. salss
                                                            minced cilantro (if you have it)

                                                            Mix together and serve
                                                            I have also added canned chicken to this for a heartier dish

                                                            1. What my mom thought me was to cook a big breakfast for dinner in a pinch...some kind of egg omellete w/ flavoring (veggies, shrimp, ham, hot sauce, etc.), some kind of veggies and a slab of protein, like hamburger steak, spam or even canned salmon and whatever carbo were around.

                                                              My grandfather's version is rice topped with eggs-over-easy, oyster or teri sauce and random protein (ham, spam, sausage, etc.)...a proto-loco-moco...followed by a cold beer. The logic of the beer was it follows the salty food well, fills you up completely, put you to sleep and you'd dream well.

                                                              My version is a pile hash browns ($1.99 3lb bag in freezer keeps for months), sauteed veggies (probably brocolli chopped fine w/ onions) and butterflied sausage (chicken apple) and that's it. I leave out the eggs...reminds me less of breakfast. One large pan usually works. If you plate the hash browns in a mound, the veggies on the other side and lay a couple of sausages on top...it looks way better then half a breakfast or half a dinner. My logic, onions and veggies and sausage compliment the hashies.

                                                              1. I do the uncooked tuna and a hundred other variations on pasta, but here are a couple of indian suggestions:

                                                                curried canned chickpeas with frozen spinach

                                                                potatoes with tomatoes (this requires that, like me, you keep some dried, unsweetened coconut and some tamarind paste in your pantry/fridge/freezer). this is a great dish, potaotes in a soupy sweet/sour spicy tomato/coconut sauce.

                                                                either of these with rice and yogurt topped with dried mint (and you can throw any veggies you have on hand into the yogurt to make a raita--grated carrots, scallions, etc) and some mango pickle (another pantry staple in my house--great in tuna salad and with scrambled eggs) and you have a good meal.

                                                                If you don't have potatoes or tomatoes, you can make a similar dish with dried green mung beans (which cook fast) or dried or frozen black-eyed peas. (the black-eyed peas can have tomato, but I never put it in the mung beans.)

                                                                1. My two favorites: spaghetti aglio e olio (if I don't have olive oil and garlic in the pantry, something is truly wrong) or with pesto sauce -- I make up batches of pesto in the summer and freeze it

                                                                  1. ok no freah meat or porduce?

                                                                    probably "thai" sesame peanut noodles.

                                                                    pasta (spaghetti,fettucini,or linguini)
                                                                    saute onions and garlic.
                                                                    Add 3 tbls peanut butter till it melts( you can add a little hot water at any point which will thin/stretch the sauce)
                                                                    add sesame oil (@ a teaspoon)
                                                                    cocunut milk about a half cup or so (this is when it's a good idea to have the little cans around)
                                                                    couple Tbls soy sauce
                                                                    big splash of rice wine vinegar
                                                                    teaspoon sugar
                                                                    stir on simmer for a few minutes
                                                                    add very al dente pasta
                                                                    let pasta cook in sauce

                                                                    we have this red pepper flake oil.
                                                                    another pantry staple

                                                                    red pepper flakes (2 heaping Tbls)
                                                                    kosher salt (1 t or so)
                                                                    sugar (1t or so)
                                                                    rice wine vinegar (1 t or so)
                                                                    corn/canola oil (1 Tbls or so)
                                                                    once you have this you'll figure out how you like it (more less salty/sweet/vinegary etc)

                                                                    sorry for the haphazard recipes I do cook from recipes sometimes but usually it's more like this..let
                                                                    me know if you need clarification.

                                                                    when doing it up we woud add grilled/browned chicken or porkchops and garnish
                                                                    w/lime wedge(also probably add limejuice to peanut sauce scallions and maybe cilantro.
                                                                    But this is the pantry version. This is my 16 year old's absolute favorite since he was about 9. He even learned how to make it!
                                                                    hmm..might just have to have this for supper...

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: cherrylime

                                                                      forgot the ginger..I know that's not necessarily a pantry thing but it's really better when you add
                                                                      it..befroe the peanutbutter and after the onions and garlic are sauteed..

                                                                      kind of funny that most of the pantry things are pasta related..maybe we should challenge ourselves w/a non pasta related pantry supper thread...?

                                                                    2. My favorite easy pasta dish: linguine w/ garlic, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest, softened in olive oil. Add a little of the starchy/salty pasta water, add black pepper, toss in the linguine, maybe some parsley, top with olive oil and parm reggiano...late night treat!

                                                                      1. What a great thread! I've gotten so many good ideas from y'all. I can't wait to try AppleSister's Bissara (I've posted a plea for the recipe, above) and Bulgur with Pine Nuts and Pomegranate Molasses. And I'll make Marianna215's Red Lentil Dahl as soon as I remember to buy some coconut milk.

                                                                        Here's my emergency super-quick pantry dish.

                                                                        Clam Linguini for One (multiply the ingredients for multiple portions)
                                                                        1 tsp olive oil
                                                                        1 clove garlic, minced
                                                                        1 can minced clams

                                                                        Saute the garlic in oil, then add the entire can of clams (with the broth) and heat through. Served on cooked linguini (or spaghetti or spaghettini, or whatever). It's nice if you have any fresh parsley to mince and throw on top, but it's not essential. (Note that parsley keeps for weeks if you stick it in a tall glass of water and change the water every few days.)

                                                                        And I know it's a no-no in Italy, but I put grated parmesan cheese on my clam linguini.


                                                                        1. My pantry staple is polenta with sausage and tomato sauce. I always have some good sausages on hand in the freezer. Make some soft polenta, put the sausage on top and drizzle some tomato sauce on top with a sprinkle of parmesean... delicious!

                                                                          1. Hi, I'm with you, a great list. One question I've been wondering about for a long time, how long can one keep opened fish sauce??? There is NO information about this on the bottle!

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Gerryca

                                                                              Having just achieved a personal milestone (first giant bottle of fish sauce finished!), I can tell you it. lasts. a very. long. time.

                                                                              I figure since it's a fermented product and is so packed with salt, it's practically immortal in the fridge. I did find that the salt crystals in the bottom grew over time, but it seemed fine to very last drop.

                                                                            2. This is an awesome thread. Thanks to all.
                                                                              I grew my own basil last summer. Chopped the leaves. For some, I added a little water to the leaves and froze in ice cubes. For others, I added a little olive oil and froze in ice cubes. Have been tossing one or more of these cubes into soups, pasta, etc. and they are just like fresh. This summer, I'll try it with parsley, oregano, etc. I noticed one of our major grocery stores (Canada) was selling these frozen cubes for $3.49 CDN EACH CUBE! Couldn't believe it.......

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: Gerryca

                                                                                So I love my basil and grow a mountain of the stuff in the summer, but I thought that you were not suppose to freeze this way, something about botulism?? I certainly hope not, but I didn't freeze any of it because of it ---- was I fooled?

                                                                              2. Fresh ginger freezes very well, and one can grate it frozen..........

                                                                                1. Traditional Tuna Nicoise with a balsamic/dijon viniagrete(sp?):

                                                                                  This is not the American version made with seared tuna. It's made with delicious chunk light tuna in olive oil. KEEP ALL OF THE OLIVE OIL FROM THE CAN FOR THE RECIPE. I use the Genoa brand found at most grocers. Sorry, if I tell you where you can find it for half price, I'll never be able to get my hands on the stuff. A good chowhound can easily find it.

                                                                                  Once you try Genoa Chunk Tuna in olive oil you will never go back to tuna in water....BLEH!

                                                                                  Anyway, here's the recipe: These are some of the more common ingredients. Experiment with others if you like.


                                                                                  1-2 cans of Genoa tuna in olive oil
                                                                                  2 hard boiled eggs quartered
                                                                                  1 large head of rommaine lettuce washed, dried, and chopped into large pieces
                                                                                  2 small yukon gold potatoes boiled and cut in small chunks with skins
                                                                                  1/2 package of flash cooked frozen sweet corn
                                                                                  1 can of chick peas drained, washed, and dried
                                                                                  1/2 package of flash frozen whole green beans
                                                                                  1 small red onion sliced into rings
                                                                                  1 sliced ripe avocado (not typically in the recipe but it's a great addition)
                                                                                  1 small roma tomato drained, seeded and chopped

                                                                                  1 large garlic clove through the garlic press (use 2 if you like it garliky)
                                                                                  3/4 cup of quality extra virgin olive oil
                                                                                  1-2 teaspoons of dijon mustard
                                                                                  Kosher salt to taste
                                                                                  Fresh ground black pepper to taste
                                                                                  1/2 teaspoon of honey (add more/adjust at end if mixture is too tart)
                                                                                  1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar from Modena (adjust according to taste...add more if needed or add more olive oil to cut the vinegar). I prefer the DeNigris brand or use the readily available Modena brand from Modena.
                                                                                  Pour olive oil in medium jar, then garlic, salt, pepper, mustard, honey, and then vinegar and cover tightly with lid.
                                                                                  Shake well and taste. Adjust ingredients according to taste.

                                                                                  Place bunch of lettuce in large salad bowl and add ingredients according to your taste. Then drizzle desired quantity of dressing and toss.

                                                                                  Enjoy and report back. Alex.

                                                                                  Oh, forgot to mention frittata's. I make a few versions. Here are a couple standouts;

                                                                                  Tomato, Basil, bacon, & grated paremesan or fontina
                                                                                  Califlower, potato, bacon, & grated paremesan or fontina

                                                                                  1. A few days ago, I made dinner from some quick Indian vegetarian dishes pretty much out of the cupboard and freezer. I used canned diced tomatoes and diced ortega chiles when I needed green chiles. I made sure to pick recipes with different spice combinations.

                                                                                    Chickpea curry

                                                                                    Curry Potatoes with Peas

                                                                                    Lentils, Rice and Spinach

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: coconutz

                                                                                      Oh yeah, I served this with yogurt (which I almost always have) and the end of a cucumber grated into it.

                                                                                    2. this topic is exactly what chowhound is about. i wish i had something to share (a dish to pass), but alas, i do not. i will next time though! ciao!

                                                                                      1. Since there are already a bjillion pasta recipes listed, I thought I'd list my alternative, which is the prepared polenta logs. Lately I've been chopping them into cubes, mixing them with whatever's in the fridge and baking until hot and bubbly. It works well with spicy pasta sauce and cheese - sort of a baked noodle dish without having to boil water (and with slightly more nutitional value). It also works with Mexican flavors - a little salsa (or in my case, spicy sweet potato soup) on the bottom of the dish, then the polenta cubes, topped with canned spicy black beans and frozen corn. The only caveat is to be sure to season well, since the prepared polenta is incredibly bland. A little heat in one form or another goes a long way.