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.
whole wheat pasta, canned tomatoes, tinned sardines (little ones!), capers, grated parmigiano
canned salmon, egg, mashed potato, garlic, any handy seasonings
(served with whole frozen green beans)
individually frozen sausages, canned tomatoes, onion, lentils, frozen spinach, broth
frozen spinach, eggs, garlic, parmigiano, onion
(served with some sort of light soup or just toast)
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?
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."