It’s pre-dinner cocktail time, and if you’re like many of us — toasting your friends virtually with a Quarantini — it’s also a good time to cook “together.”
Since we are hunkering down and not food shopping as often, I’ve had numerous requests on how to make the most of what we’ve stored in our freezers and pantries. And while takeout from your favorite local restaurant is a great option to support our community, we’re also faced with getting creative with what we have on hand. And many of us seem to have lots of both canned and dried beans. And pasta.
So while you toast away, here’s a quick, non-recipe recipe for pasta with garbanzo beans — and room to modify depending on what you have available.
Pantry pasta no-recipe recipe
Fill a large pot with water, add some salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. While water is boiling, coarsely grate 2 to 3 carrots — or zucchini or other veg you might have. Slice lots of fresh garlic — or a bit of onion — if you have it. Heat a few glugs of good olive oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Toss in garlic slices, maybe a wayward anchovy or two, or the tip of a fresh jalapeño or maybe some crushed red pepper flakes, and stir to combine. Add grated veg and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat.
Add one can drained and rinsed garbanzo (or other) beans — the liquid can be used for making vegan meringue. If you have some heavy cream or half and half, add a few tablespoons and let the sauce cook down over medium-low heat while the pasta cooks. Taste the sauce and add more garlic or dried Italian seasoning or maybe some ground turmeric, which plays well with carrots and beans. When the pasta is al dente — not quite cooked all the way through — take a slotted spoon and add the pasta directly from the boiling water to the skillet with the carrots and beans. The extra bit of water will help the pasta and sauce come together.
If you have some fresh mozzarella or grated Parm, add that in. Taste and add more chile flakes, salt and pepper or fresh herbs, if needed. Leftovers are delicious with a fried egg on top for breakfast.
Other pantry pasta combinations:
1. Crush anchovies and garlic and fresh or dried herbs in olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat just until anchovies are melted. Toss with hot cooked pasta and cheese.
2. Simmer canned tomatoes with a bit of butter, if available, or olive oil, garlic, crushed chile flakes, salt and some chopped onion for about 25 to 30 minutes. Toss with hot cooked pasta and herbs.
3. If you have the luxury of butter and cheese, make this Roman dish: Melt a good amount of butter in a skillet. Add lots of fresh cracked black pepper. Toss with hot cooked pasta, some of the pasta water, and lots of freshly-grated Parm or Pecorino Romano.
4. Heat a can of tuna or salmon, add some fresh or frozen cauliflower or peas, some garlic and/or other veg. Toss with hot cooked pasta and top with fried capers or toasted breadcrumbs.