Pantry Inspirations are not so much recipes as they are cooking with what I have around the house.
Today the inspiration was some sort of a Mediterranean flavor for pasta and I had some onions, a red bell pepper, garlic, a couple of jars of olives and some awesome fire roasted tomatoes. This is a thick sauce thanks to running half of it through the food processor and it’s good for shorter and tubular pastas like Ziti, Penne, Bowties and the like. I used some awesome No. 195 Calamari Tubes from Delverde that I found at our regional farmer’s market. If you want to use this on longer pasta like Spaghetti or Linguine, omit the food processor part and leave the sauce thinner.
Prep, Cook, Servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: About 15 minutes + 10 minutes to roast the pepper
1 lb short or tubular pasta like ziti, penne or rigatoni. 2 Tbsp olive oil 2 onions, diced 4 garlic cloves, sliced 1 large bunch of basil, coarsely chopped 1 red bell pepper, roasted. Fresh or jarred. (See here for roasting instructions) 1 can fire roasted tomatoes, diced, strained but reserve the juice. See Note below. 12 olives, sliced. Green, Black, Kalamata, whatever you like. Red Pepper Flakes
If you have a fresh red bell pepper, see this page for instructions on how to roast it.
Place a pot of water on the stove for the pasta and set to medium to high. Allow to come up to a boil while you prepare the sauce. Prepare the pasta as directed on the packaging, strain and rinse well.
Add the olive oil to a 4 qt (minimum) saucepan set to medium to medium low. You’ll want a large enough pan to add the pasta to the sauce at the end. Add the garlic and onions and sauté until the onions are translucent and just starting to turn golden, about 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium low, add half of the basil along with the roasted red pepper, tomatoes, about 1/2 of the tomato juice and olives. Allow to cook for 3 minutes, just enough to allow the flavors to blend together.
Note: OMIT the food processor step below if you are going to use this sauce on thinner, long pasta like spaghetti or linguine.
Remove half of the sauce to a food processor or mini processors and pulse until well blended and processed. Add the processed sauce back to the pan. The sauce will look something like this.
Add the cooked pasta and the rest of the basil to the pan and toss to blend the pasta and sauce. Turn the heat off, but leave the pan on the burner for 3 minutes to allow the pasta to absorb some of the sauce. If you feel you need more liquid, add some of the remaining tomato juice.
Serve with grated cheese.
Fire roasted tomatoes from Muir Glen are something I discovered about two years ago, the flavors are a bit more intense. I’ve found them at several local grocers but you can also purchase them online.
The All Clad 4qt Saucepan I recommend is a bit expensive, but it’s an amazing pan to work with that will last many years in your kitchen. The bottom holds heat better than any pan I’ve ever worked with and you’ll find you can work with a lower heat to achieve the same results. When it comes to knives and pans, spending a little extra is generally worth it.
These “recipes” are not so much about measurements as they are about eyeballing and winging it based on the available ingredients. Use these ideas as a starting point and create something fun in your kitchen! Experiment, play, try new ideas and new combinations. They won’t always work, but you never know until you try. The point is, just because you don’t have a “real recipe” for your leftovers and other ‘stuff’ in your house, doesn’t mean you can’t create a delicious dish with it. And if you come up with an awesome Pantry Inspiration, please share it in via the contacts page!