The Pantry Challenge

by Kate Steadman

Mah cupboard

Mah cupboard

On Tuesday night I found myself in need of distraction, a project that would be both engaging and productive. My inner chef emerged and I settled on taking a kitchen inventory. You know, to finally count of all those spices that made their way into my tiny galley kitchen. Why not also chronicle the baking supplies (turns out we have 7 different kinds of chocolate/chips/powder in the cupboard)? My side of pantry?

After about 40 minutes of maneuvering, organizing and trashing, I had a list. It was 5 pages long. Turns out I have 4 things of paprika!

It ended up being a satisfying endeavor. There were surprises: turns out I had some packets of yeast — bread making! And boy do I love grains. That trip I took to the Asian market to widen my culinary horizons? It’s about time I used some of my purchase.

But I’m going to turn it into a challenge: no grocery store trips until I substantially reduce number of languishing goods in my cupboard!

Now, I have a few fresh things too — a number of onions, garlic, arugula, eggs, parmesan and other cheeses, including a huge tub of ricotta in case my homemade version failed.

My first meal was this incredibly delicious curried lentil soup:

So readers, help me! What do you think I can make from the list below?

Anchovies (oil packed)
Artichoke hearts
Black rice
Chickpea flour
Dried chickpeas
Farfalle bowties
Garbanzo beans
Kalamata olives
Light coconut milk
Lipton soup
Miso soup
Near east pecan and garlic
Red kidney beans
Red lentils
Rice noodles
Scheuzan peppercorns
Schezuan red chilies
Short grain brown rice
Tamarind paste
Tomato paste
White beans
Whole wheat penne
Yellow split peas


8 responses to “The Pantry Challenge

  1. Greek night!
    Olives, hummus, and falafel

  2. I am a big pasta salad or bean salad person because they are easy to make in big batches and have for lunch for an entire week. I see makeshift hummus and pasta salad on your list. Fresh ingredients need to be added to both, such as feta for the salad and garlic , lemon juice, olive oil, and some parsley (if you want).

    1)Farfalle bowties
    Schezuan red chilies
    Kalamata olives
    Tomato paste
    Artichoke hearts
    (Blend chilies into tomato paste to make a pepper paste to dollop on salad.)

    2)White beans
    Garbanzo beans

  3. Tahini + Garbanzo beans + diced kalamata olives = Greek-inspired hummus

    Red lentils + coconut milk = Red Lentil and Carrot Soup with Coconut Milk (there’s a recipe on my site!)

    Rice noodles + tamarind paste + red chiles = the beginnings of pad thai

    Penne + tomato paste = the beginnings of pasta alla vodka (or just pasta in a tomato cream sauce)

    With the farfalle, artichoke hearts and capers, you’ve got the makings of an easy pasta dish with some of my favorite flavors!

    That’s all I can come up with right now.

  4. I make sweet potato patties with whatever I can find in my cupboard. I bake a sweet potato til it’s soft, peel it, then mix it with an assortment of grains, legumes, and spices (including sichuan peppercorns, but I put them in almost everything these days) and shallow fry. They’re really tasty, and they also freeze incredibly well.

    My recipe is but it’s an evolving creature, and definitely something that can use up pantry supplies- I am now all out of chick peas and lentils.

  5. Oh dear, HTML tag malfunction there. Sorry!

  6. Pasta Puttanesca:
    anchovies, capers, olives, tomato of some kind, pasta (esp. penne), garlic, olive oil, red chili flakes, and optional basil or oregano, Parmesan Cheese, parsley, or even onion.

  7. Try a Dan Dan noodle like dish with the miso, rice noodles and Scheuzan peppercorns, Schezuan red chilies.

  8. Some of the things on the list I don’t recognize but here’s how I would approach this.

    The capers, olives, artichoke hearts and beans I would put in the “Goes in salad” category. The soups I would call “Sauce base” for rice or pasta.

    I don’t cook much from scratch these days, my forte is doctoring up stuff that is purchased. I buy Totino’s frozen cheese pizza (really really cheap) and then add whatever I have on hand to make a really good semi-homemade pizza. Much of the stuff on your list could make great pizza.

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