When I was cleaning out my pantry this week I realised that there are some things I was hanging onto just in case I ever needed them.  The majority of those things were either several years beyond their use-by date or simply covered in dust.  These included:



palm sugar

chilli-flavoured olive oil

custard powder

gravox (gravy mix)

stock cubes and stock powder

tinned plum pudding (how did that get in there?)

table salt

Now that my pantry has been stripped back to the bare necessities, I can see what’s useful.  The list of useful ingredients gives a bit of a clue as to the kind of cooking I tend to do, the kinds of meals I make, and the kind of life I’m living:

tinned crushed tomatoes, tinned tuna in olive oil, jars of anchovies, bottles of passata

olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar.

flour, sugar, dessicated coconut, dutch cocoa, brown sugar.

arborio rice, basmati rice, jasmine rice, sushi rice, brown rice.

penne, spirals, spaghetti, fettucine.

lentils, beans, cous cous.

breakfast cereals.


PASTA A LA PANTRY (serves 4, ready in 15 minutes flat)

400g crushed tomatoes or jar of good quality pasta sauce

large tin of tuna in olive oil, drained, flaked

1 medium onion, finely diced

teaspoon of sugar

salt and pepper

cream (optional, but highly recommended)

400g thin spaghetti (about 100g per person)

freshly grated parmesan cheese

Put a big saucepan of hot water on the stove and bring to the boil.  In a frying pan, cook the onion in a splash of olive oil until translucent.  Add the tin of tomatoes or the pasta sauce and stir, allow to simmer (if using tinned tomatoes, add the sugar).   Cook the pasta according to directions on the packet.  Add the tuna to the tomato and onion, season with salt and pepper to taste, stir, then heat through.   Add a generous splash of cream to the tomato sauce, stir and heat through, then pour the sauce over the pasta.  (Add a little cooking water if you need to thin the sauce).  If you have some fresh basil or parsley, add half a handful of this, chopped finely.  Serve in bowls, sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Variations:Use bacon or chorizo instead of tuna – cook these in a little olive oil before adding the onions.

When the onions are translucent, add a few anchovies and stir until melted, then carry on with the rest of the ingredients as above.  Just gives greater depth of flavour.

Add chopped capsicum and mushrooms when frying the onions.

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