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3 Last-Minute Meals That Use Only Pantry Staples


3 Last-Minute Meals That Use Only Pantry Staples

Is getting dinner on the table always a scramble? Love great food, but don't have many skills in the kitchen? If so, you're not the only parent with this challenge, as Sheena L.'s question demonstrates. This Circle of Moms member asked for good recipes that are simple to execute, something every mom needs on the busiest days.

Here are three simple recipes (plus variations) that turn long-lasting cupboard staples into easy and delicious dinners — and they're simple enough for anyone to make successfully.

1. Lemon Pasta

4 ingredients, 15 minutes

Ingredients

1 grain: pasta or rice
1 fat: olive oil or butter
1 kind of citrus: lemons or limes
1 kind of cheese: parmesan or young goat cheese

Preparation

Boil salted water for pasta.

While pasta is cooking, zest 2-3 lemons and then juice them, then set aside both zest and juice. Grate parmesan (or portion out half a log of fresh goat cheese for 1/2 a pound of pasta, or a whole log for one pound).

When pasta is cooked, drain and return to pot with butter or olive oil to coat, then toss with juice and zest. Add cheese and serve.
 

Variation with Rice: Saute rice in olive oil or butter, then add liquid (water or chicken stock). When rice is about five minutes from being done, add lemon zest and juice, stirring until rice is fully cooked. Add parmesan or goat cheese, and serve.

Variation with Protein: Add chicken or shrimp to either dish for a boost in protein.

2. Pasta with Simplest Tomato Sauce

4 ingredients, 15 minutes

Ingredients

1 grain: pasta or rice
1 fat: olive oil or butter
1 kind of cheese: parmesan or young goat cheese
tomatoes (canned or fresh)

Preparation

Boil salted water for pasta. While pasta is cooking, make tomato sauce by melting butter (or heating oil) and sauteeing canned or fresh chopped tomatoes at medium heat. Grate parmesan (or portion out half a log of fresh goat cheese for 1/2 a pound of pasta, or a whole log for one pound). When pasta is cooked, drain and return to pot with butter or olive oil to coat, then toss with tomato sauce. Add cheese and serve.

Variation with Rice: Saute rice in olive oil or butter, then add liquid (water or chicken stock). When rice is about five minutes from being done, add tomato sauce, stirring until rice is fully cooked. Add parmesan or goat cheese, and serve.

Variation with Protein: Add chicken or shrimp to either dish for a boost in protein.

Optional Extras: Italian parsley for garnish; add sauteed onion to tomato sauce for more sweetness; use mascarpone instead of parmesan or goat cheese for more richness; use chicken stock instead of water for a richer base for rice.

3. Salad Dressing

4 ingredients

If you have fresh salad greens on hand and want to serve them, here's a four-ingredient salad dressing recipe (adapted from Alice Waters) that will keep in your fridge for up to one week:

Ingredients

1 clove garlic
2 Tbsps red wine vinegar
6 Tbsps olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt

Preparation

Combine garlic, salt, and vinegar and let soak for 15-20 minutes. Remove garlic and whisk in olive oil.

(This dressing is also good on grilled vegetables of any kind.)

Bon appetit!

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