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.
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.
Fire up those cheese graters, and get ready to meet our top five recipes:
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"?
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.)
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.
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.)
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!