I once believed that Kalamata olives were a staple in everyone’s pantries. They certainly were in mine growing up. My mom would go through jars almost weekly, adding the briney bites to salads and roasted chicken and fish. Often, my sister and I would steal two or three as pre-dinner snacks straight from the jar. It wasn’t until I casually brought it up to my coworkers that I realized not everyone kept Kalamatas on standby.
All of this is to say, “pantry staples” are relative. You might never be without a can of tomatoes or bag of kidney beans, while your best friend swears that every kitchen needs cans of tuna. (You bet I always have my Kalamatas.) But no matter how different our pantries might look, chances are that we all have a satisfying meal or two hanging out in there. Want some inspiration? Here are 11 dinners I think most pantries can make—even ones without olives.
This rice porridge is the perfect canvas for all sorts of toppings. Recipe author edamame2003 recommends a version with ground meat, fried crispy shallots, a poached egg, fresh cilantro, grated ginger, green onion, and white pepper. But, hey, it’s also a great with just a dash of fish sauce.
When Food Writer & Recipe Developer Emma Laperruque doesn’t want to cook, she makes pasta. Specifically, this pasta. Made with capers, anchovies, and (my fave) olives, it’s an easy dish packed with flavor.
A salad where all you need is a can opener. Really.
Okay, yes, eggs aren’t in the pantry (in the U.S., at least). But this minty riff on shakshuka makes an ideal weeknight dinner. It’s fast, cheap, and flavorful enough to feel special.
Cookbook author Heidi Swanson makes eating well glamorous yet attainable with this warm, feel-good soup. Don’t have green lentils? You can also use green split peas.
Senior Lifestyle Editor Hana Asbrink makes these cheddary waffles with the help of her daughter, Lana. “They’re unassuming but memorable, rich, and just plain delicious,” she says. “You can customize each one however your heart desires.”
Creamtea came up with this complex chili that’s beautifully hands-off. Plus it’s flexible, adapting to whatever beans you have around (yes, even you, Anasazi beans).
I won’t stop talking about how much I love this recipe. Not only is Merrill’s tomato rice buttery and slightly sweet, it all comes together in one pot. Swoon.
We met this comforting soup during our Best Umami-Centric Recipe Contest. Dymnyno caught our eye with her two clever uses for farro: first, as a thickener for the soup, and second, as a garnish to dollop on top.
I agree with CrepesofWrath that mustard makes everything better. Although, if you’re not a fan of mustard greens, feel free to sub in whatever droopy leaf is hanging out in your crisper drawer.
This 20-minute salad gets even better as it sits, allowing the fragrant spices, zippy lemon, and caramelized onions to get acquainted. Stuff them in a pita for extra oomph.
What is your favorite pantry staple? Share in the comments below!