Then I got broccoli rabe in my CSA and decided to try something different. There is a recipe for pasta with broccoli rabe, ham, olives, and capers. I had everything but the ham around my house, so I added that to my shopping list and thought, "worth a try." I like all the ingredients (the recipe also calls for onions, garlic, and pecorino romano cheese), but I'd never thought of having them all together.
It was the best meal I'd had in weeks--sweet from the ham, onions, and garlic, a little bitter from the broccoli rabe, salty from the capers and cheese, and there was loads of olive oil for a satisfying mouth feel. I filled up my bowl, ate the whole thing, and had to stop myself from going back for more. This recipe will be new regular for me, especially because I keep so many of the ingredients on hand.
Pantry dishes are convenient and I love when the simple ingredients combine to be something sublime. Especially during the holidays, knowing you can throw a meal together with what you have sitting around the house removes some of the stress.
The Middle Eastern dish mujadara is another popular pantry dinner at my house. There are tons of recipes for it online, but I like the one in Recipes from the Root Cellar by Andrea Chesman. The dish is basically rice, lentils, and onions that have been slowly browned until they are golden and melt in your mouth. Some recipes add tomatoes, Chesman's recipe adds buttermilk, which gives the dish an unexpected tang (and helps you excuse your desire for buttermilk pancakes because now you have a use for the rest of the buttermilk!). Mujadara is one of those dishes that is far, far more than the sum of its parts and you will be surprised by how delicious the humble ingredients become when mixed all together.
So, share with the group--what are your most delicious "pantry" meals? And, what do you keep on hand in your pantry so that you are always able to toss together a meal. Leave a comment and I'll give away a paperback copy of my January release, A Promise for the Baby.