Cooking from Your Pantry

March 16 – March 22, 2020

Roasted Chickpeas (2)

Monday:                   Roasted Chickpeas with Sweet Potatoes, Fennel, Lemon and Yogurt

Scallps over cauliflower (2)

Tuesday:                   Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Bruschetta – Scallops over Cauliflower Puree

Crispy pasta

Wednesday:            Crispy Pasta with Chickpeas, Lemon and Parsley

ginger chicken (2)

Thursday:                 Ginger Chicken and Rice with Peanut Sauce

Shrimp Wedge Salad

Friday:                       Shrimp Wedge Salad with Old Bay Bread Crumbs

Pizza now (2)

Saturday:                  Pizza and Dressed Greens

skirt steaks (2)

Sunday:                     Grilled Skirt Steak and Asparagus with Hoisin, Soy, Sesame Sauce


I pray that you are all doing well, taking care of family and riding out this strange lull in life on earth.  Beez and I are very lucky – with Andrew back from New York (hot spot of the disease) working from our home and Billy and Emily able to work from home as well, here in Pittsburgh.

In fact, I feel a bit guilty, things are going so well for us.  We’re not stir-crazy yet, because Andrew has not lived with us for some time and we are all catching up, laughing a lot, watching movies and (in my case) having another person to cook for.  I give it another week before we all drive each other batty.

And, on Tuesday, Beez and I celebrated our 41st anniversary – well, I celebrated the best decision of my life and Beez seemed okay with it.

On Tuesday I was still moving about fairly freely – went to the Strip District to pick up some beautiful sea scallops (Beez’s favorite) for dinner.  I think I may have shared that recipe with you some time in the last two years.  And I think it’s a bit more practical to focus on pastas, beans, rice and other items which you can buy in quantity and which will keep for a while, so that you can avoid too many trips to the store.

In any event, by Wednesday my sons had impressed on me the need for an old geezer like me to stay home as much as possible.  So, we turned to pasta and garbanzos, from our pantry, parsley from our hydrator and the lemons we had on the counter.  But, believe me when I tell you that the dinner we concocted was as good as anything we’ve had in a while.  In fact, we’re going to share this dish with you because we learned a new technique for cooking pasta which made it spectacular and which we should probably charge you for.  But we like you, and if your 401-K has performed like ours, you may not have the funds to pay us, anyway.  So, here, gratis, is a superb way to treat that pasta which, we presume, you have in your pantry.

The basic idea is to create a crunchy component consisting of fried pasta to go along with the buttery cooked pasta and the meaty chickpeas that provides a base for the dish.  In fact, we found that frying pasta until it’s crisp gives it a wonderfully nutty taste that would make it a fine appetizer, served alongside some marinara sauce or even by itself.  You can read the rest below.

Good luck with your own adventures in pantry diving – and please send along any tips you might have to help us exploit our own pantry.

 Crispy pasta (2)


(adapted from Milk Street)

 Milk Street’s introduction to this pasta calls it an “unusual dish from the Puglia region of Italy.”  Trust us – you will fall in love with the fried pasta that is an element of this recipe.

Timing:                                              40-45 minutes

Ingredients:                                     Serves 4

9 oz. fresh fettuccine, cut in rough 2-inch lengths

NOTE:  We used dried fettuccine and, obviously, had to adjust our cooking time.

1 can (about 15 oz.) of chickpeas – drained with liquid preserved

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons lemon zest, plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice

½ cup packed flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Kosher salt and ground black pepper


Using a sieve, drain the chickpeas over a bowl to catch the liquid which you will use, as well as the chickpeas, in this recipe.

Zest and Juice the Lemon

Chop the parsley

If using dried fettuccine, break it into approximately 2-inch pieces.


In a large pot (Dutch oven) over medium, add the oil and half of the pasta.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is crisp and deeply browned (about 12 minutes, maybe a little longer).  Note:  you need to keep an eye on this.  You want the toasted pasta to be really browned.  And, once it’s cooled a bit, eat one of the bits of pasta.  I think that a plate of this and olives would make a fine antipasto by itself.

Remove pasta with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the chickpeas and bay leaves to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chickpeas take on color and the bay leaves are toasted – maybe 3 minutes.

Now stir in the remaining pasta, ¾ cup of the chickpea liquid (add water if you don’t have enough), 2 ¼ cups of water, 2 teaspoons of salt and ¾ teaspoon of pepper.

Bring this to a simmer over medium high and cook, stirring from time to time, until the pasta is slightly softened – about 2 minutes.

Now add the toasted pasta and cook, stirring often – adjusting the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.  Cook until the untoasted pasta is al dene and sauce begins to cling – 4-5 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat, discard the bay leaves, stir in the lemon zest and juice and the parsley.

Taste, correct seasoning with salt and pepper.  Serve.