Even when money was tight, my parents’ pantry was always well-stocked when I was a kid—with Campbell’s and Progresso soups, Near East Rice Pilaf, cans of Bumble Bee tuna, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Prince pasta, and jars of Prego spaghetti sauce, Hellman’s mayonnaise, JIF, Welch’s grape jelly, and my childhood favorite, marshmallow fluff.
Since the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, it should come as no surprise that my pantry is always teeming with food. My cupboard contains many of the same pantry staples as my parents’—the JIF, the jelly, the fluff, the mayo, the pasta, the tuna and the cream of mushroom soup—in addition to some foods that my parents never had on hand, such as quinoa, dried porcini mushrooms and wasabi powder. Like my mother, I like to have back-ups in case we ever run out of anything that’s in the fridge during the week. And when we finally crack that sealed bottle of ketchup from the pantry, I promptly note on my grocery list that I have to purchase a new back-up ketchup for the pantry. What psychological make-up causes this compulsion, I don’t know.
Anyway, the inventory in our pantry has dwindled quite dramatically this week for the first time in—dare I say—years (there’s actually space for new SKUs!) because, as you may have read in previous posts, I was out of town last weekend and therefore couldn’t do the grocery shopping. So Eric and I have been cobbling together dinners based on what random ingredients we have left in our house. Monday night we had butternut squash and steamed spinach. Last night we had tortilla pizzas. And tonight I cooked with some of my pantry staples that I keep on hand for just such circumstances: spaghetti and canned clams.
While I boiled the spaghetti, I sautéed some sliced garlic in about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat for four minutes. I reserved the olive oil and garlic in a small pyrex ramekin to pour over the pasta when it was done.
In the same pan that I used to sauté the garlic, I added another tablespoon of olive oil, and when it was warm I tossed in some pieces of brocoli. I poured some water into the pan, which I covered, and I steamed the brocoli with some more sliced garlic for a few minutes.
When the spaghetti was done, I tossed it with the garlic olive oil and some additional olive oil. (I read recently that olive oil loses its salubrious properties when heated to high temperatures, which is why I reserved some unheated olive oil for drizzling over the cooked pasta.) I then seasoned the spaghetti with salt and pepper and poured it into a serving dish. I added the canned clams and sprinkled some grated parmesan and romano cheese over the top.
YUM! It was quite satisfying.
What are your pantry staples?