Pantry Pasta

Hello friends! I hope that you are all safe and healthy! Over the next few posts, we really wanted to focus on things you can easily cook with ingredients you already have on hand.

It can be pretty crazy out at the stores these days so putting together a meal is way easier if you just use what you already have in the house.

That’s why I’m calling this recipe Pantry Pasta. Basically, I looked in the pantry, picked out a type of pasta, added a protein from the freezer and, viola! A yummy and easy pasta meal for you and your family.

After I show you beautiful people how I put this meal together, I’ll go over a BUNCH of substitutes that hopefully will give you some ideas for your own meal if your pantry doesn’t match ours!

Today’s cast of characters…

OK. Here’s what I found in the house…

  • 1 pound of ground turkey (I used 1/2 pound)
  • 1 28 ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes
  • A half used tube of tomato paste (maybe 2 TBS)
  • Some hard white cheese (I think it was Romano)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • Butter (1 TBS)
  • Olive oil (maybe 2 TBS or so)
  • Fresh basil from the herb garden!
  • Dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

So now you know what I’m working with, let’s get to cooking! As with any recipe, the first step is to get all of your chopping and prepping done before you cook! Not much chopping to do here, a smallish dice on the onion and a mince of the garlic!

Chop chop!

Next, heat up your olive oil (or oil of choice) and your butter over medium heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan or dutch oven. Once your oil is shimmering, add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until it is starting to get soft and translucent.

One tip I learned working at a restaurant is to season as you go! So, once you drop your onions in the pot, throw in a pinch of salt and pepper. This helps to deepen the flavor of the end product. Once your onions are looking tasty, make some room for the garlic!. Cook your garlic until it is nice and fragrant, about 1 minute.

Butter makes it better!

Next up, the raw protein! I just chucked that turkey in there and cooked it until it was slightly browned. Again, I seasoned the turkey with some salt and pepper as well.

I wish you could smell this!

Now, let’s really build the sauce. Toss your tomato paste in and stir it up. You should let that paste turn a nice, deep red color. If you think the paste has cooked long enough, let it go for another minute. We want DEEP, dark red here.

Once you hit that point, dump in the tomatoes, including the juice from the can. Then fill that can about 3/4 full of tap water and dump that in too!

I say tomayto, you say toMAto!

If you have a frozen rind of old Parmesan cheese in freezer (which I luckily did) throw it in now. If you don’t have one, well next time to buy Parmesan don’t throw the rind away! Freeze it! Next up, sprinkle a pinch of dried oregano (not too much, it’s strong!) and just toss the basil in.

No need to chop or de-stem the basil. Now just bring the sauce to boil, reduce to a bare simmer and partially cover with a lid. Give it a good stir every 15 minutes or so to prevent any burning.

Cook my pretty…

I let this sauce cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes was up, I started the water to cook my pasta. I found buccatini in the pantry so that’s what I used! Of course you can use whatever pasta shape you have on hand. I let the sauce continue to cook while the pasta water came to a boil.

Once the pasta was in the pot, I grabbed a big, non-stick skillet and ladled in about 1 and 1/2 – 2 cups of sauce and put it back on a low heat.

Preparing the pasta bath.

I reserved the rest of the sauce in a container that is now living in my freezer for up to 3 months, just waiting for the next time I want some yummy sauce for pasta!

Once the pasta is cooked to just about al dente, I reserved about 1 cup of pasta water then I strained the pasta and threw in the skillet.

Splish splash, pasta’s taking a bath…

If your sauce is on the thick side and needs to be thinned out a little, use the pasta water that you have reserved. Give that pasta a good toss and then grate some cheese over the top!

Finished product! Are you hungry yet?

This was really, really good. Is this a quick sauce? Eh, faster than some, longer than others. But, we’re stuck at home with not much to do, so why not try it?

There are an endless number of substitutions you can make to this sauce. Don’t eat meat? Get rid of the turkey and throw in some olives for a nice putanessca. No fresh basil? Use dried! Or, just use that jar of “Italian Seasoning” you know everyone has had in their pantry for years.

Asking yourself “where’s the beef?” Throw some beef in there! Got some pepperoni hiding out in the back of the fridge? Throw it in!

Almost any veggies would work too! Green peppers, red peppers, zucchini. The list goes on and on.

The combinations are literally endless. All you have to do is ask yourself, “What do I feel like eating tonight with my pasta? What tastes good to me and my family?” You do you, this is a judgment free zone.

Let us know what kind of pantry pasta you made! We will see you again soon!

11 thoughts on “Pantry Pasta

  1. Last night I did….
    Angel hair pasta
    Cherry tomatoes
    Salt and pepper
    Parm cheese
    I forgot the Parm rind that was in the freezer….duh!

  2. Oh, this recipe looks and sounds delicious! That’s what we’ll have tomorrow (leftover lentil rice soup tonight.)
    Thanks so much!

  3. You said you reserved some of the pasta water but then you didn’t say what you used it for…why did you reserve it?

    1. Oops good catch! The pasta water is used to thin out the sauce in the skillet. I’ll edit the post to include that. Thanks!

  4. I have never seasoned the vegetables as they are sautéing. Thank you for that info. I am 69 years old and learned something new and helpful today.

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