Pasta from the Pantry

Whether we like it or not (and I can’t think of anyone who does), winter in New Hampshire usually means a power outage, often two and sometimes more. Too much snow, ice or wind can put us in the dark for a few hours or a few days. That’s when, among other things, having a decent kitchen pantry comes in handy. Your pantry doesn’t have to be filled to overflowing, just tasty and interesting.

Forget the cans of spaghetti with soggy noodles and sugary sauce. With a little of this and a little of that you can create beautiful pasta dishes straight from the pantry in minutes. Of course I’m assuming you have a gas stove … or one of those clever little camp stoves (and know how to use it).

Whether the power is out or not, here are a few things that you can almost always find in my pantry …

Extra virgin olive oil

A few good vinegars and lemons

Boxes of dried pasta

Jars of olives – something interesting, maybe imported, like Sicilian, Niçoise and Black Oil-Cured

A jar of capers

A tin of anchovies in oil or a tube of anchovy paste

Cans of whole or crushed tomatoes

A jar of oil-packed sundried tomatoes

A jar of oil-packed artichokes

Pine nuts

Onions and garlic

Dried herbs and chili peppers

Decent bottles of red and white wine (To cook with and for a glass in front of the fire during the long, dark night!)

Parmigiano-Reggiano (Keep the refrigerator closed and the cheese should keep for a day or two. After that, move the cheese and everything else in your refrigerator into a cooler and out onto your deck or porch. The only good thing about a power outage in the wintertime is the huge, natural refrigerator just outside your door.)

3-4 gallons of water (You know you live in New Hampshire when you stockpile water!)

And now, here goes! Ready in minutes … Pasta from the Pantry

Spaghetti with Olive Oil, Garlic and Anchovies
Whether the lights are out or not, this is one of those super fast, super delicious suppers!
Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
Pinch (or to taste) chili pepper flakes
Pinch mixed Italian herbs or herbs de Provence
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ounce oil-packed anchovies, drained and chopped or anchovy paste
8 ounces spaghetti
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

To make the sauce: Put the olive oil, wine, garlic, chili and herbs in a heavy skillet. Turn the heat on low and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the anchovies and continue cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes or until the garlic is pale golden brown. Do not overcook or the garlic will get bitter.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in boiling, salted water according to package directions or until al dente. Drain well and return the spaghetti to the pot. Add the sauce to the pasta and toss to coat. If you have some fresh parsley in your refrigerator or growing on your window sill, generously sprinkle the pasta with parsley and serve, passing freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Variations on the theme:

Add 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice to the sauce. If you have it, swap the dried herbs with a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves. Add the grated zest of 1/2-1 lemon to the pasta when you toss with the sauce.
Stir a handful of pitted and chopped Sicilian olives, 1-2 tablespoons capers and 1 tablespoon lemon juice into the sauce. Swap the dried herbs with fresh thyme if you have it.
Add 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and about 1/4 cup drained and chopped sundried tomatoes to the sauce. Garnish with a few toasted pine nuts.
Add 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, about 1/4 cup drained and chopped sundried tomatoes and 6 pitted and chopped black oil-cured olives to the sauce.

And if you’ve got a little more time …

Traditional Marinara Sauce
So quick, easy and delicious, you’ll never buy jar sauce again!
Makes about 1 quart

Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 carrot, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
Pinch or to taste dried chili pepper flakes (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 cups (28 ounce can) crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf

Heat the olive oil in a heavy sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot and garlic, sprinkle with herbs, pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Sauté until the vegetables are tender.

Add the wine, crushed tomatoes and bay leaf to the pot. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with your favorite pasta and a sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Variations on the Marinara theme:
Add 1-2 teaspoons anchovy paste to the pan when sautéing the vegetables and substitute the red wine with white. After the sauce has simmered for 15 minutes, add a cup or so of drained and chopped artichokes, 10-12 pitted and chopped olives and 1-2 tablespoons capers. Simmer for 10-15 minutes more and serve.

Knock wood that we are not left in the dark again this winter and bon appétit!

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One Year Ago – Tartiflette – An Alpine Casserole with Cheese & Potatoes
Two Years Ago – Four Cheese Lasagna Bolognese with Spinach
Three Years Ago – Curried Chicken and Lentil Soup

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What’s in your pantry? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for lots more to read, see & cook! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2012


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