From the Pantry

Spending last weekend out of town was great fun for Martha and me, but it seriously interrupted our usual weekend meal planning and grocery shopping routine. When we returned home on Sunday night, I was scrambling for ideas for what to put on the table. Rather than spend a precious weeknight writing a menu and grocery shopping, I decided to wing it for the week and try to use up some of the food we already had in the house. Yeah, I know, cooking from the pantry, not really something to write home – or write blog – about, but a couple of these dishes came out well enough that I thought I’d post them here, just in case someone else out there finds themselves stuck with the exact same ingredients.

1990s Pasta

Forgive me if I’m mixing up decades here, but it seems like the 90s was the time when we everyone was eating sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, arugula and penne. Well, as it happens Martha and I keep all these things on hand. One thing I wish we kept on hand that we don’t is pine nuts, which would have been great in this and also very in keeping with that 90s theme. The vinegar was a last second edition when I saw how muddy the tomato liquid was going to make the pasta look; it brightened the flavors up nicely.

  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes (the dry kind, not the kind packed in oil)
  • 3 garlic cloves, shaved thin on a mandoline
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • About half a bag of baby arugula (4 or 5 cups, maybe)
  • 1 14oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1# penne
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Cover the tomatoes in 2 cups of boiling water and allow to soak 15 minutes, until slightly rehydrated and tender. Strain the tomato soaking liquid into a small saucepan and reserve tomatoes. Bring tomato liquid to a boil and allow to reduce by half. Set aside.

Bring enough water to cook the pasta to a boil in a large stockpot. Place garlic slices, pepper flakes and olive oil in a large, cold skillet and heat over medium heat until garlic cloves brown. Stir in arugula and allow to wilt. Add tomatoes, beans, reduced tomato soaking liquid and chicken stock to skillet and bring to simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the penne al dente and drain. Return to stockpot and toss with sauce, vinegar and cheese. Serve, topping with additional cheese as desired.

Moroccan Parsnips

I’m not sure if they grow parsnips in Morocco, but we sure do grow them in Minnesota, and for some reason I’m always 1.) buying tons of them and 2.) putting them into bland, earthy concoctions. So I turned to a warmer, spicier place to help get through this lingering late farmers market staple.

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small bunch parsnips, peeled and cut into 3″ long, thin pieces
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 14oz can chickpeas
  • ½ tsp zest plus ¼ cup juice from one orange
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp harissa
  • ¼ cup minced parsley

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add parsnips and allow to brown. Stir, browning on other sides. Transfer parsnips to a bowl and set aside.

Return skillet to medium heat. Add onions and cook until edges start to brown. Add garlic, spices and salt and cook until fragrant, just a few seconds. Add chicken stock, chickpeas, parsnips and orange zest along with enough water to half cover the parsnips. Partially cover the skillet and simmer until the parsnips are completely tender – about 15 minutes for me, but it depends on the age and toughness of the parsnips.

When parsnips are ready, turn off the heat and stir in the harissa, orange juice, vinegar and parsley. Taste for seasoning. Serve with cous cous.


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2 comments on “From the Pantry”

  1. A Ann 15 December, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Oh, Tom — That parsnip recipe is wonderful and really, really good! I impulsively tried it tonight on the last of my parsnips (kind of getting tired of roasted parsnips, although they are pretty good) and even though I substituted some ingredients it was fantastic! I used tangerine instead of orange, and ras el hannout with tabasco instead of harrisa, but it was truly delicious and I will definitely keep this recipe. Thanks!!

  2. Tom 16 December, 2010 at 8:22 am

    I am glad you had success with the parnsips Aunt Ann! I really liked the recipe too. Sometimes I feel like I put these things out there and nobody makes them, so it is good to hear that the post was of use!

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