Coronavirus aside, it’s always a good idea to have a few easy, delicious recipes that use all or mostly pantry ingredients. This is one of my favorite pasta recipes. It is easy, fast, did I say easy? And it’s absolutely satisfying.
Vermont is closed. The schools are closed. The restaurants and bars, library, town offices, everything else is closed to help contain COVID-19. The streets are quiet, and we are not sure what is coming next, but people are trying to be good, be prepared, and do all the things we are asked to do: keep safe distance, don’t go out unless essential, wash hands and sanitize, limit contact with the vulnerable.
While we are home, we make do
We are home, and making do with what we have, but making new opportunities as well. This morning, our UU church held its spiritual discussion group via Zoom, and it was a wonderful gathering. We are planning church service on-line for this Sunday as well. We adapt as humans quickly, and with hope and a whole lot of luck, these measures will slow the spread of this virus.
We will also be making do with the food we have stored in the near future. I have quite a few “pantry meals” that I pull out when I haven’t had time to shop or the energy to make something complicated, and pasta is often the easiest to dress up. Dried pasta, some frozen vegetables, or even just olive oil and garlic with a bit of cheese and you have dinner.
Quick comfort food
This is one of my favorite dishes, from the pantry or not. It is a comfort dish that is quick, uses simple ingredients, and is prepared with little fuss. In the summer, I would use a couple of fresh beefsteak tomatoes in place of the canned, but at this time of year, that is not an option. Use canned tomatoes, or perhaps the roma tomatoes you stuffed into a freezer bag at the end of the year. They all work beautifully.
Parsley, or not
Lemons last a long time in the refrigerator, so the only ingredient that you might not have on hand if you are not venturing out is the fresh parsley, so just omit it, the past will still be delicious. I’ve garnished this with basil because I have some growing on the windowsill, but otherwise, it is not essential.
I think I’ll go make some more right now!
Family Favorite Pantry Pasta
- 1 lb. spaghetti, regular or brown rice
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 4 or 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 entire can anchovies, rinsed, optional
- 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped
- Zest of one lemon
- Juice of one lemon
- Handful fresh Italian parsley, minced
- Freshly ground pepper
Make this recipe when the local tomatoes are big and fat and juicy and delicious, but in the winter months, or when you are keeping yourself at home, pantry or freezer tomatoes will work nicely.
Get your spaghetti cooking, the rest won’t take long. This is a fast weeknight supper, and comfort food at its best!
Heat the olive oil and add the butter and garlic and start to soften the garlic. Mash in the anchovies if using and they will disappear. The anchovies are an important ingredient, but if you don’t eat fish you can leave it out and add a bit of soy sauce for a salty element.
Add the tomatoes, cover and cook for six or seven minutes until everything is melded and softened, but not to the point of thick sauce. Add the lemon zest and juice, parsley and ground pepper, and plop in the spaghetti.
Add a little spaghetti water to thicken the sauce if necessary. Plate, garnish if you have some basil on the windowsill, perhaps a few cherry tomatoes, and sprinkle with Parmesan or vegan alternative if desired, but none of this necessary, just nice if you have it on hand.
You may find yourself craving this recipe!
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