We’ve all been there: Friends dropped by unexpectedly (yay!). You’ve nothing to serve them (boo!). Or do you? Odds are, tucked away in your cupboard or fridge are a few familiar ingredients that can easily be turned into tasty snacks. You just need to know what to look for. Here are simple ways to transform kitchen standbys into beyond-the-basics appetizers.
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.
Comfort food can be a personal thing. My ultimate comfort dish is my grandmother’s famous baked spaghetti, served up with a heaping helping of nostalgia. Her recipe (and similar ones like this from Food Network Kitchen) is made up of ingredients that are universally comforting: pasta, rich red sauce and plenty of cheese. When my sweet tooth beckons, though, it’s all about the chocolate. Ina’s Brownie Pudding, made with “good” cocoa and real vanilla bean, is my go-to.
Nuts should be stored in the freezer. Their high levels of natural oils can turn rancid but cold temperatures will help to slow down the process. The darkness of the freezer will also protect the nuts from being exposed to light, which can cause them to go stale.
You’ve heard it all before: Spring is a time for change. It’s a time when we kick off our puffy down coats and swing our windows wide open. It’s also a time when our diets change for the better. But before getting carried away with all the green-as-can-be produce you can get your hands on, use this first stage of the season for some serious spring cleaning, with a special emphasis on that pantry of yours.
This week, Food Network’s combining forgotten pantry items with the freshness of spring produce. Together, these two elements create bright and budget-friendly side dishes.
Those cardboard boxes of pasta sure stock up in the shadowy depths of your pantry. Get that stuff boiled by making one of these spring-forward pasta dishes. Serve Food Network Magazine’s Spaghetti With Snap Peas and Prosciutto alongside a nice chicken breast. Or try Pasta Salad With Asparagus, Corn and Sun-Dried Tomatoes by Food Network Magazine as a cold side for a spring picnic.
It happens at least once a year — your favorite jarred tomato sauce goes on sale and you stock up — enough to feed an army sometimes. While nothing beats homemade sauce, sometimes the jarred varieties are a reliable substitute for quick weeknight dinners.
It’s certainly a must-have in the pantry, along with pasta and one of Melissa d’Arabian’s favorites — dried beans. But sometimes you can fall into a rut, using it the same ol’ way. Not anymore. Food Network Magazine has taken a household staple and provided 50 different ways to incorporate it into recipes like Spanish rice, minestrone soup and Italian meatloaf.
Looking for a way to liven up baked potatoes? Try Pizza Potatoes (No. 21). Make a deep slit in baked potatoes, then stuff with some pasta sauce, chopped pepperoni and shredded mozzarella, and bake at 400 degrees F until the cheese melts.
Is it possible to make something delicious from a can of food? Last week FN Dish editors challenged you to a pantry cook-off to find out what dish you would make out of ordinary canned foods. It was a challenge inspired by Episode 4 of The Next Iron Chef, where the chefs had to transform a chosen canned food into something worth plating for the judges. In the end, most of the chefs were successful in the challenge, even those who chose cans labeled with question marks. But what can the average person at home create with canned foods? You voted for the ingredient you would choose to cook with and then told us the dish you would make.
How many times have you been caught without a plan for dinner? It can happen, right? You end up scrounging around in the pantry or the cupboards looking for something you could turn into a meal. Oftentimes you may even find yourself cooking with canned foods. Take, for example, a can of tuna — it can become a pretty good pasta puttanesca with the right recipe. Food Network is challenging you to a pantry cook-off challenge to find out what you can make.
On the latest episode of The Next Iron Chef, the Chairman’s challenge had the chefs cooking with canned foods with the goal of transforming the ingredient into something worth plating for the judges. Some of the cans available were properly labeled and others had question marks — just to throw the chefs a curveball. Though the chefs didn’t seem very keen on the challenge, they took it in stride. Now it’s your turn: Which canned food would you choose and what would you make out of it?
Last year The New York Times and other news outlets reported a scary statistic: Americans throw out approximately 40 percent of all the food we purchase. Let’s say you spend $100 a week on groceries — that’s like taking $40 and just tossing it in the trash. If you’re one of the many of us who are resolving to spend money more wisely in the new year, then taking a look at your grocery shopping and food storage habits and making some improvements will help stretch your food dollar even further. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be sharing helpful tips to make the most of the food you buy and help you avoid having to throw anything away.
1. Don’t let oil or nuts go rancid. Whenever I cook in a friend’s home, rancid olive and vegetable oil is the number one food sin that I see committed. Many people don’t realize that oil goes bad, so it’s very important to keep it (especially pricey olive oil) in a cool, dark place. Take the sniff test to determine if yours has gone bad: if it smells musty and off, it’s time to say goodbye. (And here’s an important food disposal tip: if you must throw it away, don’t pour oil down the drain; it’s terrible for waste-water treatment plants.) If you don’t use a lot of oil, avoid buying giant bottles so it won’t go bad before you use it up.
For East Coasters that are bracing for what looks to be monster Hurricane Sandy, we thought this would be a swell time to remind you of what your pals on the left coast already know: Create a well-stocked emergency pantry for yourself.
What does that mean exactly? We looked to the American Red Cross for their best tips on how to make sure your family has enough to eat should a catastrophic event hit close to home. Their mantra: “Get a Kit. Make a Plan. Be Informed.” keeps it simple. The Red Cross’ advice for kitchen preparedness comes in two categories: a three-day supply for evacuation needs, and a two-week supply for your home.
“While stocking your emergency kit and pantry, it’s important to think about what you need from shelf-to-mouth to consume each item. Make sure you have the appropriate utensils and kitchen equipment to open cans, and think about whether or not items can be consumed raw or will need to be heated,” says Red Cross spokesperson Attie Poirier.