Pantry to plate – Saanich News

– Text and recipes by Ellie Short Photography by Don Denton

We’ve all been there. A little hungry, the refrigerator door is open, the cupboard is half open, but unfortunately there is “nothing to eat”. You reluctantly drag yourself to the grocery store, feeling alone and uninspired, and what was once a delicate snack is now a full-blown hunger monster churning inside. Or maybe you didn’t even go to the store, failed, and called for takeout, only to have an unappealing takeout meal.

You might be surprised to learn that you may have more options in this situation than you didn’t realize at the time. Many of us have cupboards full of ingredients for delicious meals, dutifully waiting for the right recipe or creative combination. If you do have empty shelves and an empty fridge, it’s your loving push to stock your cupboards with some non-perishable or very durable fail-safe and foolproof must-haves.

In modern times, low (or unattractive) grocery stocks may be due to lack of shopping, not lack of supply. We are living in an age of abundance, where almost any ingredient is available at any time of year in the most well-served metropolitan centers. (This is of course in contrast to “food deserts” and the accessibility conversation, but that’s a topic for another day.) Humans, however, have relied on pantries, pantries, cellars, and other such storage throughout the winter for storage Food and drink for months, when fields are bare and animals are either hibernating or too hungry to eat themselves.

Cooking in jars, jars, boxes and cases is a necessity, and canning, pickling, preserving and rationing is a way of life – and in many parts of the world, the only way of life. In fact, right now (late winter and early spring) fresh food availability is at its lowest, and we’re all grateful for any pre-planning, prepping, and proactive preservation.

Maybe you’re trying to eat more locally and your garden is looking thin after a long winter. Maybe you’re one of those people who needs to have long-lasting ingredients on hand to keep you inspired between shopping trips. Either way, the following recipes are perfect for those “rainy day” situations.

Take alla puttanesca, a rich pasta dish that seems to have originated in Naples in the mid-20th century. There are several stories about how this Italian staple became so popular. One idea comes from a 2005 article by Il Golfo, which states that it was invented in the 1950s by Sandro Petti, co-owner of the famous restaurant and nightclub Rangio Fellone. Petti is said to have been inspired by seeing a group of customers sitting at one of his tables near closing one night. He was running low on ingredients and told them he didn’t have enough for a meal. They asserted that it was late and that they were hungry, saying “Facci una puttanata qualsiasi” which means something like “You make us something the fuck!” Petty was left with some anchovies, some tomatoes, olives and thorns capers, and used them to make sauces for pasta, a dish that he later included on his menu as spaghetti alla puttanesca. Because “puttana” roughly means “prostitute,” and puttanesca is an adjective derived from that word, one theory is that the customers were sex workers from the area.

Alternatively, food historian Jeremy Parzen argues that the name has more to do with the actual use of “puttanesca” in Italian than with its literal definition, saying, “Italians use puttana almost like we use sh-t ( and related words) for almighty profanity. So pasta alla puttanesca probably originated when someone said, basically, ‘I just threw a bunch of crap from the cupboard into the pot.’”

So read on for ways to turn what’s on your shelf into something delicious.

(If you want to learn how to make, can, preserve, cure, or otherwise stock your pantry with delicious and useful non-perishables? Well, that’s a story for another installment, so stay tuned …)

Rustic Tuscan Bean Soup

Prep time: about 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 20 minutes

Makes about 4-6 servings

Please ignore this painfully cheesy title and trust me when I say this will become your go-to satisfying soup recipe. As you may have noticed, not all of the ingredients come from cans, jars or boxes, but fresh ingredients like garlic, shallots, onions, carrots and celery keep for a long time in the shade, and the kale grows fairly well throughout Lush in British Columbia’s cooler months. Of course, if you don’t have access to fresh versions of any of these vegetables, you can always freeze them and thaw them just before using.

raw material

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into coins

2 large celery stalks, washed and sliced

1 15-ounce can bruschetta beans, drained and rinsed

2 dried bay leaves

1 tablespoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

5-6 cups broth

sea ​​salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 large bunch fresh kale, washed and thinly sliced

Optional topping of freshly grated Parmesan cheese,

hopped parsley and/or rustic croutons (follow recipe)


Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Add onion and shallots and sauté 3 to 4 minutes, until translucent and starting to brown. Then add the garlic and sauté until softened. Add a few more tablespoons of olive oil, then add the carrots and celery and sauté for another 5 to 10 minutes (this is important to ensure a rich flavor).

Add the beans to the pot along with the bay leaves, oregano, red pepper flakes, and broth. Season with salt and pepper. Bring it all to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for another 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat more olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, sauté kale until tender, then remove from heat and set aside. Remove the soup pot lid, remove and discard the bay leaves, then transfer 2 cups of the soup to a high powered blender and blend until creamy and smooth (you may need to let it cool slightly before blending).

Return this blended mixture to the pot and stir until just combined, then add the cooked kale. Garnish with more red pepper flakes, chopped parsley, freshly grated Parmesan, and/or rustic croutons (next recipe).

Rustic Italian Croutons

raw material

about 4 slices of country bread (you can freeze and then thaw

r just some stale bread), cut into ½ to 1-inch cubes

3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon dried marjoram

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

sea ​​salt to taste


In a large bowl stir together croutons and seasonings, season with salt.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over low heat.

Add the seasoned croutons and fry until the croutons are crispy and browned, adding more olive oil as you go and stirring regularly to cook evenly. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely before using.

Pantry Puttanesca

Prep time: about 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 15 minutes

Makes about 4-6 servings

Here is the classic simple version, I use canned

Tomatoes instead of fresh, including some canned artichokes

Add textures (since I have them on hand).

raw material

1 package (about 300g) spaghetti

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

8-10 small anchovy fillets, drained, rinsed and chopped

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 small can (about 100g) capers, drained, rinsed and chopped

1 can (about 300ml) pitted olives, drained, rinsed and chopped

1 can (about 100g) artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and chopped

1 large can (about 800 g) diced or crushed tomatoes (no salt)

A large handful of fresh parsley, chopped

freshly ground black pepper

salt pasta and to taste


Start boiling the pasta water. Add salt once it starts to boil and cook until the pasta is al dente. Drain and keep a glass of macaroni water on hand.

Heat some olive oil in a skillet large enough to serve the cooked pasta later. Add the garlic, anchovies and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium heat until the garlic is lightly golden and the anchovies have melted, about 5 minutes. (Adjust heat as needed to maintain a slight sizzling.) Add capers, artichokes, olives, and a dash of parsley and toss to combine. Then add the tomatoes, stir and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes for the flavors to develop further.

As the sauce boils, it may reduce a bit, at which point you can add some pasta cooking water – just a few tablespoons will keep the sauce thick and moist.

When ready to serve, combine the sauce with the pasta, sprinkle with more chopped parsley, and enjoy!

Cupboard Cleanup Cookies

Prep time: about 10 minutes

Baking time: about 15 minutes

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Not only do these cookies make delicious use of many long-lived ingredients in your cupboard (in fact, every ingredient probably came from your cupboard), but they also keep for a while on their own. You can store them in an airtight container on the shelf for up to a week, or in the freezer for a month and then in the freezer indefinitely. I personally just pop them in the oven at 350 F for a few minutes to rejuvenate them before eating (if you use frozen ones, make sure to thaw them before doing so). They’re also delightfully adaptable; substitute almond butter for any other nut or seed butter you have lying around, mix in spices (or leave them out at all) or swap out nuts and fruit, depending on what you have on hand.

raw material

1 cup almond butter (or any plain,

nut or seed butter)

½ cup unsweetened applesauce

½ cup pure maple syrup

¼ cup unsweetened almond milk

or any unsweetened non-dairy milk)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 cup almond flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger powder

¼ teaspoon cardamom powder

1⁄8 tsp ground cloves

¼ teaspoon sea salt

¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes

½ cup chopped nuts (almonds shown here,

ecans and cashews)

½ cup chopped dried fruit (shown here with

apricots, dates and goji berries)

½ cup dark chocolate chunks


Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine rolled oats, ground almonds, baking powder and soda, spices and sea salt, set aside.

In another bowl or with an electric mixer, combine the almond butter, applesauce, maple syrup, almond milk, and vanilla until smooth.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir together until fully incorporated.

Stir in the nuts, fruit, coconut, and chocolate, then use a retractable ice cream scoop to form balls about the size of a quarter to a half cup, patting the top down a bit to create more chunky Cookie shapes (they won’t spread out too much) and place each cookie evenly on a baking sheet.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until they start to brown around the edges, then let them cool on a wire rack before enjoying!

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