Everyday Cooking

A Winter Pantry Dinner Party

January 20, 2014

Food52's Managing Editor Brette Warshaw is throwing no-stress weeknight parties for anyone, anytime, and (almost) every kitchen. You're invited.

Today: Dive into your pantry, come out with a party. Here's a step-by-step plan.

Foriana from Food52

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It's hard to make a pantry meal feel sexy.

Because let's face it. These are cans and bags and sacks and jars we're dealing with, not leggy asparagus, not round, perfect tomatoes. Cooking from the pantry feels more like a transaction than a dark, steamy love affair: we're putting metal to metal. We're rehydrating. We're eating straight from the jar, on the couch, without pants on.

So cooking a dinner party from the pantry feels like a cheat, a cop-out, a snub. But in the dead of winter, when all that's at the market is sad, dirty kale and gnarly celeriac and yet another towering pile of cabbage, getting re-inspired with what we already have feels like a gift. And transforming it into something that people eat with all their clothes on, in the company of other people, is thrilling. It's exciting. It's, well, sexy.

Here's how to emerge from your pantry in a tight black dress and stilettos. Invite some friends over. Right now.

The Menu

Green Olive Tapenade
Chard Salad with Garlic Breadcrumbs and Parmesan
Spaghetti alla Foriana
Braised Celery with Onion, Pancetta, and Tomatoes
Italian Jam Shortbread Tart

The weekend before your party: Make your foriana sauce, your breadcrumbs, and your tapenade. You're halfway there!

Tapenade from Food52

The night before your party: Bake your shortbread tart. Prep your celery. Make your dressing for your chard salad.

Salad from Food52

When you get home from work: Get that celery braising! You can finish up the dish and leave it on the stove -- and then warm it just before serving.

Marcella Hazan's celery from Food52

Party time! When your guests have arrived, put on a pot of water to boil. Once it's rolling, drop in your pasta, get your celery warming, toss your salad, gather everyone around the table. Dinner is served!

When it's time for dessert: Whip some cream. Serve your tart. Put your feet up. Feel sexy. 

Tart from Food52 



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  • Marian Bull
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    Paloma Cabero
  • fiveandspice
  • ATG117
  • Brette Warshaw
    Brette Warshaw
Brette Warshaw

Written by: Brette Warshaw

I'm a reader, eater, culinary thrill-seeker, and food nerd.


Marian B. January 20, 2014
I can attest that this party was a raging success, and that foriana sauce is indeed life-changing.
Paloma C. January 20, 2014
Amazing!!!I love it!;)
Brette W. January 20, 2014
Thanks Paloma!
fiveandspice January 20, 2014
I want to come to this party.
Brette W. January 20, 2014
Wish you could've been there! There were also some gin drinks...
ATG117 January 20, 2014
Simply love this menu! More please.
Brette W. January 20, 2014
Thanks!! It was a fabulous party.
ATG117 January 20, 2014
How much does braising transform the celery? I generally don't like celery, but I'm intrigued by the recipe.
Brette W. January 21, 2014
Completely transforms it. It becomes a different vegetable. You should try it!
ATG117 January 21, 2014
Putting it on my list. Thanks!
ChristyBean January 27, 2014
Celery is my arch nemesis but I love fennel. Could that work as well?
Brette W. January 31, 2014
Yes definitely.