Did you forget to pick up the chicken on the weekly grocery trip, or your meeting ran late? Here’s some of our panic pasta recipes. Most of these come right out of the pantry.
Sounds fancy, tastes great, no one needs to know you cheated.
- 1 pound frozen ravioli/tortellini/whatever
- 1 pound frozen spinach, thawed and mostly drained
- 1-2 jars bottled/canned tomato sauce
- parmesan, Italian blend or mozzarella
- 1/4-1 pound Italian sausage, chorizo, ground turkey, sliced, sausage, etc
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 375 F.
- Step 2 Using a square baker or lasagna pan, start with a dribble of sauce in the bottle so the noodles don’t stick too much.
- Step 3 Mix the tomato sauce with the spinach. If you’ve got an onion, some garlic, or any veggies lying around, toss them in to. I’m thinking of that 1/2 cup leftover mushrooms getting sad in the back of the fridge. Carrots and hard vegetables won’t get enough cooktime to soften, so either roast them on a cookie sheet in the preheating oven or nuke them before adding. If using straight canned sauce, add some dried Italian Herbs or Basil, Oregano, whatever you’ve got. Go light on salt blends, as the sauce is probably salty enough.
- Step 4 If using meat, saute it up until no pink is showing. Set aside.
- Step 5 Layer the still-frozen ravioli with a generous pour of sauce, making sure the noodles are really covered. Repeat until out. It’s better to add more rather than less sauce, so if you run out by the top layer, open another jar. Top with cheese – melty and strong flavor are good here – and meat.
- Step 6 Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly.
Pantry noodle soup
Broth, pasta, some kind of canned or frozen veggie, and your bare kitchen suddenly smells amazing. You'll be surprised by how great a soup like this can taste. SOME IDEAS TO GET YOU STARTED:;; Mexican - chili, adobo sauce, jalapenos, sour cream. Goes particularly well with chicken/pork and corn, zucchini, squash. Italian - Italian seasoning, tomatoes, pesto. Goes really well with sausage/chicken and roasted veggies.; Moroccan - orange juice and olives. Goes well with spicy sausage, chickpeas, squash, tomatoes and couscous instead of pasta. ;Thai - curry paste, coconut milk, rice noodles, bamboo shoots, lime.
- 1-2 onions
- garlic if you have it, minced
- veggie odds and ends from your crisper, raw or cooked
- 2-4 cans total of tomatoes, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, chickpeas, or any other veggies
- OR 2 bags fresh or frozen veggies (kale, peas, corn, cauliflower rice)
- 1 pound short or broken pasta
- 6-8 cups chicken broth*
- GREAT ADDITIONS WHEN YOU'VE GOT 'EM:
- leftover meat/sausage
- Parmesan rind (take out before serving)
- 1-3 TB vinegar
- cream or sour cream
- enchilada sauce
- *I swear by Penzey's soup bases, and buy them in bulk. The pastes are really flavorful without being grainy or too salty. I like being able to adjust the intensity of the soup based on how much I put in. To make sure I don't end up with a giant clump, we always premix the broth.
- Step 1 Assess what you have on hand. Start with the veggies and/or meat. Use chicken broth every time, as beef broth gets really salty as a soup base. (Unless you’re making beef soup!) Based on what you’ve got, figure out which flavor combo to use (see below or get inspired by your spice drawer).
- Step 2 Cut up selected ingredients into small pieces, so they’ll cook faster. Prep the chicken broth and set aside.
- Step 3 Add a tablespoonful or two of oil to a soup pot over medium heat. Starting with the onions, add veggies to the pot based on how long they’ll take to cook. For example, carrots and potatoes to start, but peas or corn only a minute before serving. As a general rule of thumb, hard vegetables take longer to cook than soft ones. If meat is already cooked, add it towards the end as well.
- Step 4 Once the veggies and meat are all warmed and there’s a nice layer of brown on the bottom of the pot, you can add some flour as a thickener (toss with veggies until it disappears) or just add the broth. Thoroughly stir and scrape the bottom for those brown bits. That’s straight up flavor.
- Step 5 Taste the soup as is before adding your seasonings. Is it salty? Does it taste different than you expected? Maybe you need to shift gears a little. Just remember to add seasonings a little at a time, to make sure you’re on the right track and not to overdue it.
- Step 6 When you’ve got it the way you like it, add the pasta/couscous. Cook as directed. Season and serve.
Pesto pasta with artichokes
Grab some canned artichokes, a box of pasta and parmesan. You're halfway done.
- 2 cans quartered artichokes (or whole that you snip the hell out of in the can with kitchen shears)
- 1 pound short pasta like rotini or fusilli
- 1-2 jars pesto
- parmesan to taste
- Step 1 Set water to boil and cook the pasta while you open the cans of artichokes. When the pasta is al dente (taste it – this isn’t rocket science), turn off the heat and drain it, but leave some starchy water in the pot – a few tablespoons full.
- Step 2 Pour the noodles back in with the water and stir in pesto to taste. We’re heavy-handed around here, so taste as you add. When the balance is right, drain the artichokes and toss them in the pot too. Salt and pepper.
- Step 3 If you want to get fancy, turn the heat back on and add some olive oil. Saute the pasta over medium heat until a little crunchy on the edges.
- Step 4 Serve with parmesan.