health

How to cook an amazing meal without going further than the pantry.

By ELLY JEAN-LOUIS

It’s a week night, you’ve come home late and now you have to cook dinner. You open the fridge: Nothing. You open the pantry: Nothing. You open the freezer: Nothing. The last thing you want to do is cook and you start to contemplate having vegemite on toast for dinner

Sound familiar?

It certainly happens in our household. That’s why I have created three super simple recipes using everyday pantry items for those days when you just want to put your feet up before tomorrow is on your doorstep.


RAW ZUCCHINI AND LENTIL PASTA

Vegetarian, Vegan And Gluten Free

I made this on Sunday and took it to work for my lunch on Monday and Tuesday. It’s honestly one of my favourite meals that I have ever created. Why? It’s ridiculously healthy, fast and is tasty.

Serves: 3-4

Cooking time: 10 minutes

What you need:

2 large zucchinis, spiralled – if you don’t have a spiral cutter use a vegetable peeler to ribbon your zucchini.

1 jar of olives, drained

1 can lentils, drained

1 can of pasta sauce (we had puttanesca in our pantry but anything works, even tinned tomatoes)

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, sliced

1 tsp chilli flakes

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Let’s cook:

1. In a large non-stick pan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion, chilli and garlic and cook for two minutes.

2. Add the lentils, olives and cook for a further 3 minutes. Pour in the pasta sauce or tinned tomatoes, season and simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Distribute your spiralled zucchini among 4 bowls, add a generous serving of the lentil ‘Bolognese’ and enjoy.

MAC AND CHEESE

Vegetarian

You can definitely add more pantry items like: tuna, ham or bacon to this recipe and transform it into a cheesy bake.

Serves: 4

Cooking time: 15 minutes

What you need:

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400g macaroni

2 tbs plain flour

2 tbs butter

2 cups of milk

1 cup of grated tasty cheese

Extra cheese for topping

Salt and pepper

Let’s cook:

1. Cook the pasta according to the pack instructions, in a large pot of salted water.

2. While the pasta is cooking, add butter to a large non-stick pan and melt. Then stir in the flour and continue to stir for one minute on a medium heat. Gradually whisk in the milk till smooth then simmer for two minutes. Remove from heat and mix in the cheese in two lots, season and stir till silky.

3. Drain the pasta and add it to the cheese sauce. Coat the pasta then pour it into individual ramekins or a large oven-proof dish. Sprinkle with cheese and grill for two minutes or until cheese has melted.

CHEATS PIZZA

These Cheats Pizza’s are a lifesaver on hectic days. They are quick, kids love them and adults love them equally. They’re also great because you can literally add what ever you find in your pantry or fridge and everyone can customise their own so the whole family is happy.

Serves: 1

Cooking time: 10 minutes

What you need:

1 slice of Lebanese bread or pita bread

2 tbs of tomato paste

Desired toppings, I used ham, tomato and baby spinach

Seasoning

2 handfuls of tasty cheese

Let’s cook:

1. Preheat your oven to 200°C.

2. Lay one slice of Lebanese bread flat on your bench. Smear two tablespoons of tomato paste ensuring it is not all the way to the edge. Add toppings, seasoning and cheese.

3. Put your pizza onto a lined oven tray and bake for 5-7 minutes until the cheese has turned golden. Cut into slices and enjoy.

There you have it. Three recipes that use everyday pantry items. So next time you pick up the jar of Vegemite or peanut butter, put it down. You can create healthy and nutritious meals in almost the same amount of time it takes to toast and spread.

What do you like to create with the contents in your pantry and fridge?

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