We all have those nights where we come home from vacation to a barren refrigerator — or even long days when there’s simply no time to hit the store and the fridge is in the same empty state. With this challenge in mind, our experts in Food Network Kitchen came up with five recipes made exclusively with nonperishable pantry ingredients. That means no dairy, no fresh herbs, not even a squeeze of lemon. We’ll admit it: At first we were a little bit skeptical of cooking solely with cans and packaged ingredients, but these fresh-tasting, flavorful dishes won us over at first bite.
1. Quick and Easy Minestrone
Flavorful ingredients are secret weapons in pantry cooking. In this pantry-based minestrone soup, soy sauce adds instant depth and savory umami flavor. This dish proves that your bottle of soy sauce is great for more than just Asian-inspired cooking.
2. Pantry Pasta with Romesco Sauce
Romesco is a Spanish sauce made with bread (as a thickener), roasted peppers and nuts. This version uses jarred red peppers, roasted almonds and paprika for a kind of pesto that is wonderfully smoky and tangy.
3. Spicy 3-Bean Pantry Chili
This vegetarian chili gets its rich flavor from caramelizing tomato paste and warm spices, rather than long hours of cooking. Add corn for some sweetness or canned hominy for a chunkier and funkier chili.
4. Applesauce Waffles
You can still make these Belgian-style waffles when you’re out of milk and eggs. They’re crispy on the outside, but applesauce keeps them moist and almost muffinlike on the inside.
5. S’mores Bark
Need a last-minute dessert or after-school snack? All the elements of a s’more are combined into this delicious, three-ingredient bark. It’s got crunch from the graham crackers, richness from the chocolate and fire-roasted flavor from the broiled marshmallows.
Check out more recipes and tips for Cooking from the Pantry.