It seems like everyone is posting on social media about their newfound love for baking sourdough bread or recreating complex gourmet dishes like Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon. I won’t even try to pretend that those recipes aren’t fabulous — they are. However, they require three things that you and I maybe do not have right now: time (who has 7 hours to make dinner when you’re also homeschooling?), culinary expertise and access to fresh ingredients. The CDC has officially recommended that we “only visit the grocery store, or other stores selling household essentials, in person when you absolutely need to.” I’ve seen it advised to only go grocery shopping once every two weeks, so if you’re someone who has to pick out your own perishables and foodstuffs instead of relying on delivery, you should plan to buy enough food to last at least two weeks at home. Most produce will not last the full two weeks, so you’ll need to rely on frozen and canned goods to create balanced, nutrient-rich meals for the second week post-grocery shop. Here are three recipes that I was able to make all with ingredients that I already had in my pantry, fridge and freezer.
White Beans with Sausage and Greens
As I set out to inventory my pantry and freezer, I quickly realized I had an abundance of one ingredient. It’s a mystery to me, but for some reason, I buy a can of Great Northern Beans when I grocery shop every single week. How often do I eat said beans? Maybe once every six weeks. Therefore, my first task was to use up those beans.
The original recipe by Budget Bytes (an underrated website, in my opinion) is called White Beans with Tomato and Sausage. I ramped up the veggies in my version and used chicken sausage instead of pork, so I changed the title to White Beans with Sausage and Greens. Feel free to substitute different vegetables (like zucchini or kale) or meats (like hot pepper sausage) based on what you have available at home.
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 links chicken sausage
- 1 medium onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 15 oz. cans Great Northern beans
- 1 lb. frozen chopped spinach (frozen, do not defrost)
- Salt to taste
- Add the olive oil and chicken sausage to a large pot and cook over medium-low heat until golden brown on the outside and slightly firm (about 5 minutes). Remove the sausage to a cutting board and slice them into rounds. Return the chicken sausage slices to the pot.
- Continue to sauté the sausage until fully browned. While the sausage is cooking, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the onions and garlic to the pot and continue to sauté until the onions are soft and transparent. The moisture from the onions should dissolve any browned bits of sausage from the bottom of the pot.
- Once the onions are soft, add the can of crushed tomatoes, dried basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and a healthy dose of freshly cracked pepper. Stir to combine.
- Empty the two cans of Great Northern beans into a colander and rinse with cool water. Let the excess water drain away, then add the beans to the pot along with the frozen chopped spinach (no need to thaw). Stir the contents of the pot and allow them to heat through, stirring occasionally (about 10 minutes).
- Taste and add salt if needed. If a thicker mixture is desired, let the pot simmer longer until the sauce has reduced. Top with fresh parmesan and serve with hot crusty bread for dipping, if you have some.
Quick Pasta and Chickpeas
I am also the proud owner of seven cans of chickpeas, so my second recipe had to involve some garbanzo beans. Luckily, I’m a huge fan of Deb Perelman with Smitten Kitchen, and she has a recipe I’ve always wanted to try but have never been quite desperate enough to make: Pasta e Ceci. I say desperate because this dish looks like adult Spaghettios and seems way too simple to actually be tasty. I followed this recipe exactly as written on Smitten Kitchen the first time, and then I added a few extra steps and ingredients that I feel take this dish over the top and make it worthy of being a main course. Warning: Use Deb’s original recipe if you don’t consume dairy.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste
- 1½ cups chickpeas (from one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed)
- ¾ cup uncooked small-shaped pasta (Deb uses anellini, I could only find mini shells)
- 2 cups boiling chicken broth
- 1 Bay leaf
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup grated/shaved parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
- In a medium saucepot, heat the two cups of chicken broth to simmer. When heated, add the drained and rinsed canned chickpeas to the simmering broth and let cook until the beans are soft (about 10-15 minutes).
- While the beans are cooking, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil until it shimmers in a medium-large heavy-bottomed pot or deep saute pan. Add 2 smashed cloves of garlic and cook, stirring until it becomes lightly, barely browned but very fragrant.
- Stir in the tomato paste, salt, and pepper and cook them with the garlic for 30 seconds or so. Add the bay leaf, cooked chickpeas (with the two cups of stock included!) and dry pasta to the tomato paste mixture. Stir to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot, lower the heat, and simmer until the pasta is cooked and a lot of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- If you'd like a little extra flavor and creaminess, add ¼ to ½ cup of cream and ½ cup grated parmesan. Taste and adjust seasoning and ladle into bowls topped with more parmesan.
Shrimp and Parmesan Polenta
Yes, parmesan is included in every recipe on this page. It lasts forever and can be purchased in many different forms, all of which are acceptable in these dishes. (This recipe actually calls for cheddar cheese, but I only had parmesan.) There are a million ways to make shrimp and grits, so consider this Taste of Home recipe your basic starting point, which mostly uses common pantry items.
- 1.5 cups chicken broth (low sodium, this polenta can get salty fast)
- 1 cup milk (I used a mix of almond milk and heavy cream since that's all I had!)
- ¼ cup butter, cubed
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¾ cup uncooked old-fashioned grits
- ¾ cup shredded Kerrygold cheddar cheese (or any flavorful cheese, like parmesan or gouda)
- 1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used frozen)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon Cajun or blackened seasoning
- Crumbled cooked bacon
- Sliced green onions
- In a large saucepan, bring the broth, "milk", butter, salt and pepper to a boil. Slowly stir in grits. Reduce heat. Cover and cook according to package directions, stirring occasionally. Stir in cheese until melted. Set aside and keep warm.
- In a large skillet, saute the shrimp (if frozen, do NOT thaw first), garlic and seasoning until shrimp turn pink. Serve with grits and sprinkle with bacon and green onions, if desired.