Pantry treasures


A can of tomatoes provides the base for versatile sauce.

A can of tomatoes provides the base for versatile sauce.

One way I’m preparing for an upcoming cross-country move is to eat through my pantry staples. Sure, I can donate unopened cans of broth or boxes of pasta to food banks, which really need them this year. But they won’t be too interested in my half-consumed sack of Great Northern beans or Carnoli rice or artisinal cornmeal. Can you say soup? Risotto? Grits?

I’ve been eating popcorn like a fiend, yet the level of kernels in the jar appears to remain constant–a magic jar of popcorn that seems to insist on migrating with me! Any thoughts on what to do with popped corn (other than slather it with butter and salt) will be much appreciated.

Pasta is high on my list of pantry favorites. So, in an effort to dress up the stuff, I pulled a can of whole peeled tomatoes out of the cupboard and whipped up a pot of tomato sauce. It’s a low-effort recipe that yields lots of flavor and possibilities.

Pantry Pasta Sauce

The flavors are intentionally simple; add rosemary or oregano, if you like. You can use this, of course, on pasta, or as the base for lasagna. Last night, I combined some with cooked penne, Monterey Jack cheese, and Parmigiano-Reggiano in a little gratin dish and baked at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. It’s also good on pizza, or spooned over sauteed chicken.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Pantry Pasta Sauce

Pantry Pasta Sauce

1 cup chopped onion

2 minced garlic cloves

1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes (use kitchen shears to roughly cut up the tomatoes in the can)

1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil. Add onion; saute 4 minutes or until onion is softened. Add garlic; saute 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Puree in the pot using an immersion blender or transfer sauce to a blender or food processor. Yield: 2 1/2 cups.