Hi, I’m Catie Parrish, Wayfair’s Associate Editor. Last time I did a blog post, I wrote about food (Memorial Day food, to be exact). And surprise, surprise, I’m back to talk about food again.
One morning a couple weeks ago, my husband Chris discovered (to both our horror) that our fridge had stopped working. In retrospect, it was only a matter of time. Although our kitchen has lots of cabinet and counter space, for a reason unbeknownst to us (most likely a frugal landlord), it was equipped with an ancient, mini-baby fridge.
Chris and I filled a cooler with ice and tried to salvage what we could, but it mostly amounted to some odds and ends condiments. I found this website about keeping food safe during an emergency a helpful guide for what we could keep and what we should toss. Once a week, we do a big, stock-up grocery trip. Our most recent trip was just two days before the fiasco, so we sadly lost almost $300 worth of meat, yogurt, milk, and specialty ingredients. What a bummer. After a visit from our property manager, we learned that our new (full-size!) fridge would not be arriving for another four days.
Hmm. Four days X two people X eating out for lunch X eating out for dinner = not in our budget! I had to find a way to make it (mostly) work with what he had in our pantry. Here are a few of our favorite meals I was able to scrounge together. I was surprised how delicious and filling they were!
Pantry Staples: Rice (Arborio, white, and brown), canned or boxed stocks and broths, olive oil
Rice? Check. Chicken stock? Check. Onions and garlic? Check. Wine? Check! (duh.)
I think Ina Garten’s risotto recipe is the easiest I ever made (no constant stirring). Instead of butter, I used extra virgin olive oil, and I left out the frozen peas. Now, traditionally, this feels like a winter meal, but I like to stir in lots of chopped tomatoes at the end to make it feel more summery. (Side note: Did you know you should never refrigerate tomatoes? I always have a big bowl of them on my countertop.)
Pantry Staples: Canned tuna, vinegars (red wine, balsamic, white, apple cider, rice wine), dried herbs and seasonings, dried or canned beans (black, cannellini, chickpeas)
Meal: Pasta with Tuna and Beans
Like my mom’s green bean salad I shared in my last blog post, this is sort of a no-recipe recipe. Boil off about half a pound of pasta (short cuts work best). After it’s drained, but still hot, toss it with a couple cans of high-quality tuna fish, a can of drained cannellini beans, some red wine vinegar, lots of olive oil, salt, pepper, and your favorite seasoning. Fresh herbs are fabulous, but I also like lemon pepper, or an herbs de provence blend. Be creative! The nice thing about this meal is that it’s packed with protein, so it will keep you satisfied for the long haul.
Pantry Staples: Canned beans, garlic, non-refrigerated fresh veggies, tortillas
Meal: Black Bean Tostadas
In a small saucepan, over low-heat, sautee two smashed garlic cloves in two tablespoons of olive oil. Cooking them slowly like this makes them sweet and soft—like roasted garlic. Add a quarter teaspoon of salt and one can drained black beans to the garlic and oil and then smash with a potato masher to your desired smoothness. If the mixture seems very stiff or starts to get dried out, drizzle in ¼ – 1/3 cup chicken stock or water. Smear the black beans on warm or toasted tortillas, and then top with whatever you have on hand. We topped them with chopped tomatoes, sliced avocados, fresh corn kernels cut from the cob, a squeeze of lime juice, and a sprinkle of cumin. Yum! If you’re craving meat, pick up a rotisserie chicken, and layer on the shredded meat.
So there you go, these are just a few of the meals I was able to pull together. A well-stocked pantry really does come in handy, but I’m not going to lie…we did eat our fair share of peanut butter and banana sandwiches. What ingredients do you always keep in your pantry?