Pantry Pasta Is the Humble, Comforting Dinner We Want to Eat Every Night

Literally, every. Single. Night.

January 15, 2019
Photo by James Ransom

Here's what I look like after I walk through the door after work on a chilly winter weeknight: a shell of myself. Here's what I'm wearing: a blanket slung around my shoulders (drafty apartment!) and one shoe, because after I removed its partner, I realized I couldn't be bothered with the other. Here's what I want to eat because it will make everything—everything, I tell you—better: pasta.

More specifically, pantry pasta—aka, noodle-centric dishes that are mainly composed from shelf-stable ingredients you can keep in your pantry for ages, which often come together off-the-cuff (or at a minimum, with relative ease). Like, aglio e olio, or pasta con ceci.

In fact, we all love (and rely on!) these back-pocket pasta dinners so much that we're making our latest recipe contest all about them. Enter our shiny new contest, "Your Best Pantry Pasta," from stage left. Or stage right. Whatever. Just get those pantry pasta recipes out here, would you?!

Submissions are now open, until March 1 at 6 p.m. ET. A couple ground rules:

  • This contest is looking for pantry pastas, through and through. Meaning, noodle dishes that exist for those nights (or days) when you've got a sparsely populated larder and produce drawer. Think: canned tomato products, legumes, jarred olives, spices, shelf-stable oils (from olive oil to chili oil), bread crumbs, tinned fish, dried mushrooms, toasted nuts (or seeds!), vinegars of all shapes and sizes—you get the idea. What we're not after are three Michelin star–quality, all-day masterpieces topped with ounces upon ounces of uni. (By all means, send those over to our office, though!)
  • Feel free to include a few perishable items. Like, a big hit of cream never hurt anyone; neither did ricotta. And come to think of it, neither did ground beef, or pretending to be Salt Bae except with chopped parsley. But keep the spirit of pantry pasta alive, please! (You'll have plenty of opportunities to showcase those pasta primaveras in future contests, we pinky promise.)
  • If you're going to base your submission on a classic, go ahead and give it a twist, please. As in: by all means, riff on an aglio e olio, but please do so by adding something inventive, whether in technique or ingredient list.

How to Enter

  • If you have a recipe already on the site, go to that recipe page, hit "Edit Recipe" (under the photo), scroll down, hit "Submit my recipe to a contest," select the latest contest ("Your Best Pantry Pasta"), and save.
  • If you want to add a new recipe, head to your own profile page, select "Recipes," click "Add a Recipe," upload it, hit "Submit my recipe to a contest," select the latest contest, and save.

We read every submission and test as many as possible. But that’s a lot of reading and a lot of testing. We’re counting on you to help, too. Peruse the submission pages and make (and favorite!) any recipe that catches your eye. Then, share feedback on the recipe page. We take all this feedback into account as we narrow down to the top five, which will be announced on March 20.

For a full refresher on how the whole contest process works, check this out.

Best of luck and get ready for those pasta twirls!

Editors' Note: On Jan. 29, 2019, we made a few small tweaks to the rules above in order to clarify the guidelines, and give entrants more creative freedom. We hope this will lead to even more delicious pasta entries. Yay!

What's your go-to pantry pasta? Let us know in the comments—then, enter the recipe in our contest!

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Linda Illingworth
    Linda Illingworth
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    Ella Quittner
Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.


Linda I. February 2, 2019
desperately looking for a weekend recipe list of pasta recipes. It was published in Dec/Jan and involved a one pot pasta recipe with mushrooms, red onion and red wine.
Anybody know where I can find this feature article?
Thank you!!!
Chris H. January 28, 2019
Question: What constitutes non-shelf-stable? Obviously ingredients such as garlic, fresh herbs, cheeses, etc. But would ingredients such as miso paste or mayonnaise fall into that category as well? Things that keep forever in the fridge such as pickles, or pickled pepperoncini? Thanks for clarifying.
Ella Q. January 29, 2019
Hi Chris,

Hi Chris,

Thanks so much for your question. We just posted an update to the rules here, which we hope will help clarify what we consider perishable—notably, we've removed the formal limit on perishable ingredients and have asked that entrants keep the spirit of the contest in mind. Happy pasta twirling!