Pantry

5 Pantry Pastas That Ask Basically Nothing of You & Give You Everything in Return

Fire up those cheese graters.

March 20, 2019

My favorite part of my home is the pantry—which is what I very generously call a shelved corner of my apartment kitchen that contains so many spices, flour types, bags of coconut flakes from 2014, and canned chipotle peppers, it literally spills over into the adjacent corner, where I keep my bath towels.

No matter.

Whether or not a pantry matches the traditional definition (which I suspect includes "not also containing all of your bed linens and one bar of soap"), it's the heart of a home kitchen. The place where shelf-stable ingredients, like dried mushrooms, canned legumes and tomatoes, spices, nuts, hot sauces, brined olives, and more wait patiently for your moment of need. And especially so during the colder months, when creating a cozy, hearty meal without putting on pants or exiting your apartment can feel like a really cool magic trick.

Which is where pasta comes in. But not the kind with fresh noodles, a million types of vegetables, and every variety of cheese under the sun—pantry pasta.

Also known as: the theme of our most recent recipe contest. We asked you all to share your very best pantry pastas, and we were far from disappointed. After reviewing over 110 submissions, doing lots and lots of testing and tasting (full disclosure: I'm 40% Parmesan now), we're ready to reveal which entries will make it to the next round.

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Top Comment:
“Gotta say I don’t think all of these meet the intent of the challenge. The goal was to use things we already have and minimize use of fresh ingredients; no one carries dried porchinis and ajvar on a day to day basis. If the intent was to make the best dish with shelf stable items (like most of these are) but also use produce or cream, say that. These sure aren’t even close to “that recipe you keep in your back pocket for when the fridge is bare but you need a noodle fix” as advertised. ”
— JimCooksFoodGood
Comment

Fire up those cheese graters, and get ready to meet our top five recipes:

Lusty Pasta with Sardines by Emily

Emily's bright sauce—which she describes as a thicker, sweeter, sardine-y take on pasta puttanesca—invites canned tomatoes, cured olives, red pepper flakes, and capers in brine to the party. Can we set our auto-RSVP to "yes, please"?

Creamy Lemon Spaghetti with Crunchy Breadcrumbs by Jo Thrasher

The very best pantry pastas call for only a few ingredients and encourage you to make them your own. This lemony, breadcrumby number from Jo Thrasher does just that. Add extra lemon zest to the cream sauce? Go ahead. Change up the pasta shape? Such is your wont. Double down on grated pecorino? Do you. (But, yes.)

Bucatini in Three-Jar Ajvar Sauce by laura

As one Food52 team member put it, the hardest part of making this deeply flavored dish is opening the three jars it calls for: one each for ajvar (a roasted red pepper sauce), sun-dried tomatoes preserved in oil, and kalamata olives.

Pasta al Tonno by Suzanne Miller

This tuna-centric dish is another riff on puttanesca. "I tweaked this classic Italian recipe to make it a little saucier and bawdier—like it got relationship advice from its lusty cousin," says its creator. Cool, just let us know where to sign up for that advice column, because we're totally sold. (We've been cooking the tomatoes a few minutes extra given they're out of season.)

Spaghetti with Porcini and Tomato Sauce by KitchenComa

If olive oil, sherry, dried mushrooms, tinned anchovies, canned tomatoes, and butter formed a band, let's just say we'd be at every single concert. In the front row. Until then, we'll get our fill with this comforting, extra-savory spaghetti.


One million sauce-covered thank-yous to everyone who submitted a pantry pasta recipe.

Next up, some homework: Help us select the top two by taking these recipes for a spin in your kitchen and letting us know what you think. Rate the recipes, write comments, or reaching out to us directly at [email protected] We're headed to do another round of recipes tests ourselves, and we'll be back with two finalists on April 1.

Let us know all your thoughts and feelings about pantry pasta in the comments, please!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • JimCooksFoodGood
    JimCooksFoodGood
  • Nicholas Itzin
    Nicholas Itzin
  • EmMa
    EmMa
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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a a writer 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.

3 Comments

JimCooksFoodGood March 20, 2019
Gotta say I don’t think all of these meet the intent of the challenge. The goal was to use things we already have and minimize use of fresh ingredients; no one carries dried porchinis and ajvar on a day to day basis. If the intent was to make the best dish with shelf stable items (like most of these are) but also use produce or cream, say that. These sure aren’t even close to “that recipe you keep in your back pocket for when the fridge is bare but you need a noodle fix” as advertised.
 
Nicholas I. March 25, 2019
Good grief man pour yourself a pint and relax. Maybe let's take into account this well referenced and creative multimedia resource was provided entirely free of charge. Read the recipes, look at the photos, and then do your thing like normal people do. If you, in fact, can "cook food good," then I imagine you can sort your way through these small issues, OR use the acquired knowledge (for which you've done nothing in return but complain) to inform your next market visit plan.
 
EmMa March 25, 2019
Couldn't agree more, Jim. The consistent bias towards expensive and hard-to-find ingredients in one very predictable palate direction are why I no longer even submit recipes to the contests.

Food52 may be an excellent and free resource, but that doesn't mean we can't voice our desire to see some balance. That's supposed to be the purpose of crowd-contribution internet resources, and it's being wiped out by the recipes featured/selected by the editors.