As we’re all stocking up on pantry essentials, there are only so many frozen blueberry smoothies and fried rice bowls you can make before your palate starts to get bored. But our favorite chefs know how to turn some of the most common pantry ingredients into extraordinary meals without too much time, effort, or money. So we challenged some of them to show us how to use one pantry staple in five different ways. The next time you find yourself with a surplus of chicken stock or canned tuna, refresh your palate and get creative with one of these ideas.
Canned artichokes have always been one of our favorite pantry staples, whether we’re making a crowd-pleasing dip or stirring them into a creamy pasta sauce. Anna Francese Gass — author of the cookbook Heirloom Kitchen: Heritage Recipes and Family Stories from the Tables of Immigrant Women — agrees, and she has some great ideas to switch things up if your in an artichoke rut. Check out her recommendations, plus a recipe for an artichoke tart that will make any normal day feel like a celebration.
Rocio’s Peruvian Artichoke Tart
- 2 rolls of prepared pie crust (I like Trader Joe’s)
- 5-6 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 egg, hard boiled
- 12 oz artichoke hearts, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
- 1 tsp of finely chopped garlic
- 3-4 tbsp of unsalted butter or margarine
- 1.25 cups milk
- 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
- Kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare an 8 x 8 glass/pyrex baking pan and cover it with one of the pie crusts. Cut the crust to fit the pan.
- Mix 4 eggs and milk in a bowl. Set aside.
- Melt the butter or margarine in a large pan and sauté the onion at medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until soft. When onion is becoming transparent, add the finely chopped artichokes and sauté again until soft. Add salt and pepper. Allow to cool.
- Once cooled, add the artichoke mix to the eggs and milk, add Parmesan cheese, and stir well. Pour into the baking pan and add the hard-boiled egg (whole or cut in halves). Cover the tart with another layer of dough/pie crust. Pinch with a fork to let it air while baking, and brush it with the egg yolk mixed with lukewarm water. Bake tart for 50 minutes.
More Artichoke Recipe Ideas
- Artichoke Fritters
- Artichoke Francese
- Artichoke and Lemon Pasta
- Spinach and Artichoke Dip
We’ve been eating a lot of chicken lately because it’s both delicious and economical. And while we’re roasting and grilling it aplenty, it’s high time we changed up our poultry routine a bit. Chef Jimmy Ly of NYC Vietnamese restaurant Madame Vo knows how to do chicken right, whether he’s cooking fish sauce wings or stir frying it with lemongrass, peppers, and onions. We’re partial to his garlicky, spicy wings recipe, but Ly has plenty of ideas about how to pack chicken full of flavor.
Fish Sauce Chicken Wings
- 6 whole chicken wings
- Salt and pepper
- Garlic powder or grated garlic
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 4 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp sriracha
- Gather the wings in a bowl and lightly season with salt and pepper. Add some garlic powder or grated garlic if you wish. But don’t add much salt, as you will add more fish sauce later. Give it a good toss.
- Next, heat vegetable oil in a frying pan or a wok, making sure there’s enough oil to cover the wings, otherwise it could splash. When you see bubbles appear around a chopstick inserted into the oil, reduce the heat to low. Gently drop in the wings and deep fry until golden brown. Remove and let rest on a rack to drain off the excess oil.
- In a large wok, heat about 2 tbsp vegetable oil and fry some minced garlic until fragrant. Add 2 tbsp sugar and 4 tbsp fish sauce. Add some sriracha if you would like extra heat. Bring to a simmer, and you will get a thick and sticky sauce.
- Transfer the wings to a serving plate and top with the sauce. Serve with rice or as a drinking snack.
More Chicken Ideas
- Lemongrass Chicken
- Hainanese Chicken Rice Com ga Hai Nam
- Vietnamese Fried Chicken
- Roasted Chicken Gom Ga Roti (chicken thighs)
Canned fish can be extra luxurious, especially if you know how to use it properly. While we love simply opening some oil-packed tuna and mixing it into a quick salad, we found extra inspiration in Bart van Olphen’s The Tinned Fish Cookbook. Olphen gives us some excellent ideas for turning that can of tuna into a gourmet meal, plus a recipe for Tuna Fritters with Tzatziki that is at once bold and refreshing.
Tuna Fritters with Tzatziki
- 1 medium potato, peeled
- .5 zucchini
- One 6-ounce (160 g) tin of tuna (preferred pole & line caught and MSC certified) in water,
- 1 cup (150 g) canned corn, drained
- .5 bunch of parsley leaves, finely chopped
- Heaping 1⁄3 cup (50 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp crushed chile flakes
- Tabasco sauce
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- Sunflower oil
- .5 cucumber, peeled
- .5 cup (125 g) full-fat Greek yogurt
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- To make the fritters: Coarsely grate the potato and zucchini and combine in a bowl. Add the tuna, corn, and parsley and mix thoroughly before adding the flour and the egg. Season with the chile flakes as well as tabasco, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- To make the tzatziki: Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and deseed. Coarsely grate the flesh and put in a sieve. Using the rounded side of a spoon, press out as much liquid as possible and then combine the flesh in a bowl with the yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Heat a generous splash of sunflower oil in a thick-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot enough, spoon two portions of the fritter mixture into the pan. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown, flip the fritters, and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes until crispy and done. Lift them out and drain on a paper towel. Repeat until the mixture has been used up.
- Serve the fritters alongside the lemon wedges and tzatziki.
More Canned Tuna Ideas
- Toast with hummus, tuna, capers, chickpeas, and scallions
- Mix it with mayonnaise, pepper, and salt for canapés
- Use in a wrap with avocado, red onion, and lettuce
- Place canned tuna chunks in ceviche
Recipe from The Tinned Fish Cookbook: Easy-to-Make Meals from Ocean to Plate—Sustainably Canned, 100% Delicious © Bart van Olphen 2019, 2020. Translation © The Experiment, 2020. Reprinted by permission of The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. Experimentpublishing.com
Tahini, a condiment made from ground sesame seeds, is used in some of our favorite dishes, like hummus and dan dan noodles. But this nut-butter-like ingredient is even more versatile than you think, which makes it one of our go-to pantry staples right now. Chef Tim Hollingsworth of Otium in Los Angeles has plenty of ideas on how to use it, whether it’s in a sauce for grilled salmon or spread on morning toast with fruit and honey.
Grilled Salmon with Tahini, Lemon, Parsley
- 4 6-8 oz salmon filets
- 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
- 1 tbsp chopped garlic
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- .5 cup tahini
- 1/3 cup warm filtered water
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
- 1 tbsp dill, chopped
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- .25 tsp Aleppo pepper
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- Dress salmon in oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Turn on the grill to medium-high.
- Whisk together the sauce ingredients. Set aside.
- Grill salmon on both sides to desired temperature with lemon slices on top.
- Spread the sauce in an even layer on a serving platter. Plate the grilled salmon on top of the sauce.
- Garnish with lemon wedges and freshly-picked herbs like parsley, chervil, or dill.
More Tahini Ideas
- Tahini on toast with honey and bananas
- Mix tahini into salad dressings
- Mix tahini with yogurt and fresh herbs to make a great dip for crudités
- Grilled cauliflower with tahini and pomegranate molasses
We’ve been using beans like crazy because they are shelf stable, nutritious, and super filling. We love opening a can for nachos, tacos, and pasta, and Leah Sarris — Executive Director of New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute — has some more great ideas on how to use this fiber-rich staple. Check out her recipe for Praline Cookie Dough below if you’re looking for a sweet fix.
Praline Cookie Dough
- 1 (15-oz) can chickpeas or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- .5 cup brown sugar
- .25 cup almond butter (or pecan butter if you have it)
- 3 tbsp rolled oats
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp bourbon (optional)
- .25 tsp salt
- Your favorite milk, as needed
- .5 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
- Use a food processor to combine the beans, sugar, almond butter, oats, vanilla, bourbon (if using), and salt until you have a smooth mixture. If it’s too stiff, add milk 1 tbsp at a time and continue to pulse until it reaches the desired consistency, like freshly made cookie dough.
- Scrape the “dough” into a large mixing bowl and fold in the pecans. Eat right away or store in the fridge for up to 1 week.
More Bean Ideas
- Stews and soups: beans add creamy texture and help stretch the meal for your whole week
- Veggie burgers
- Salad dressings and dips: They add a velvety texture and nutrient boost
- Crispy snacks: roasting at 400F turns them into addictively crunchy bites
We always have chicken stock around because it instantly adds flavor to so many dishes. Hunter Evans — the executive chef and owner of Elvie’s in Jackson, MS — couldn’t agree more that this pantry staple goes way beyond making soups and stews. Check out his ideas below, plus a recipe for a quick, rich sauce that goes with just about any meat or vegetable on the menu.
Quick Chicken Stock Sauce
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 4 slices bacon
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 cup red wine, optional
- Add 4 cups of chicken stock to a small saucepan. Add 2 thyme sprigs, 6 garlic cloves, 4 slices of bacon, and a good pinch of salt and simmer until there is about .5 cup left.
- Finish with 1 tbsp of butter. Taste for seasoning.
- If using for roasted red meat, you can add any drippings to the sauce and add 1 cup of red wine in the beginning. The result is a quick, rich, gluten-free sauce that’s perfect for any roasted meats or vegetables.
More Chicken Stock Ideas
- Egg Drop Soup
- Sub chicken stock for water when you make rice, grits, and steamed veggies
- Quick Gravy
- Freeze in an ice cube tray and use when sautéing vegetables
Restaurateur and home cook Yunnie Kim Morena is inspired by her Southern California upbringing and Korean roots to create the delicious recipes she shares on her website. Rice is a staple in a lot of her recipes, whether she’s frying it with kimchi and eggs or serving it alongside a BBQ lemongrass ribeye. Here are some of Kim’s ideas for how you can spice up rice night in your own home.
- Fried Rice: Throw in frozen veggies, onions, sesame oil, coconut aminos, and egg
- Add a scoop of rice to soup
- Fried Rice Balls
- Rice bowl with grilled veggies, salmon, or chicken
- Sushi or hand rolls: Mix rice with 1 tbsp rice vinegar and you have sushi rice. Roll it up with some canned tuna mixed with Japanese mayo, fried egg, cucumber, avocado, carrots, and soy sauce for a fun sushi night at home.
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