From puttanesca to fried rice.

By Bridget Hallinan
Updated March 16, 2020

Whether you’re in a time crunch or under the weather, simple recipes really come in handy. That’s where your pantry comes in—using staples like chickpeas, beans, pasta, rice, and anchovies, as well as frozen vegetables and meats, you can build a dish with ingredients you already have and grab any fresh items as needed. Some of our favorites include pasta puttanesca and an easy polenta, which pairs beautifully with poached eggs and chili crisp. Read on for more ideas of how you can make the most of what's in your pantry, with available tweaks noted.

Orzo and Chickpeas with Turmeric-Ginger Broth

Victor Protasio

Considering it only takes 20 minutes to make, this recipe packs in a lot of flavor. The only fresh ingredients you need to worry about are limes, plus cilantro for garnish if you have it.

Get the recipe: Orzo and Chickpeas with Turmeric-Ginger Broth

Easy Polenta

Sarah Crowder

Six ingredients, only 20 minutes of active time—this recipe is about as low-fuss as it gets. While other polenta recipes typically call for nearly an hour of stirring at the stove, this one comes together off the heat, lid-on, as it rests for 45 minutes. In the end, all that’s left to do is whisk in the butter and cheese. You can serve it with everything from slow-roasted pork and vegetables to a simple poached egg with chili crisp and scallions (shown above).

Get the Recipe: Easy Polenta

Pulling-from-the-Pantry Puttanesca

Victor Protasio

This pasta is largely pulled together from pantry staples—think olive oil, anchovy fillets, canned plum tomatoes, olives, capers, spaghetti, and more. Within 30 minutes, you’ll have a tasty meal.

Get the Recipe: Pulling-from-the-Pantry Puttanesca

Mixed Pantry Pan Roast

Potatoes, garlic, sweet onion, sun-dried tomatoes, smoked sardines, and more shelf-stable ingredients make up this one-pan meal.

Get the Recipe: Mixed Pantry Pan Roast

French Rolled Omelet 

Jennifer Causey

There's a reason omelets are go-to meals. Add in shredded Gruyère or cheddar cheese, as well as fresh herbs, if you have any. If not, keep it simple.

Get the Recipe: French Rolled Omelet

Egg Fried Rice

Paola + Murray

This recipe calls for frozen peas, and you can easily use frozen shrimp as well. Other than that, all you need is sugar, black pepper, soy sauce, eggs, rice, salt, and vegetable oil.

Get the recipe: Egg Fried Rice

Chickpeas and Kale in Spicy Pomodoro Sauce 

Constantine Poulos

This one-pan dish—one of our 40 Best recipes—is a riff on pasta pomodoro. Missy Robbins swaps pasta for chickpeas, adds in kale, and tops everything off with fresh herbs and grated cheese for a hearty, healthy meal.  You can try frozen kale if fresh kale isn't available, and skip the herb garnish if need be.

Get the recipe: Chickpeas and Kale in Spicy Pomodoro Sauce

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Crispy Capers 

Caitlin Bensel

If you have any capers and anchovy fillets lingering in your cabinet, add them to this pasta with roasted cauliflower. They help add saltiness and umami to the dish. Again, frozen cauliflower can work if fresh cauliflower isn't available, or you can sub in broccoli or brussel sprouts to adapt the dish to what you have.

Get the Recipe: Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Crispy Capers

Basque Garlic Soup

Greg DuPree

This garlicky, smoky soup is perfect for cold weather. The best part? You only need eight ingredients.

Get the Recipe: Basque Garlic Soup

Cuban-Style Black Beans

Romulo Yanes

A pressure cooker helps to speed this recipe up, but if you don’t have one, you can always use a regular heavy pot. Serve the dish with toasted rice pilaf.

Get the recipe: Cuban-Style Black Beans

Bean and Ham Hock Stew

Abby Hocking

This bean and ham hock stew would be a good weekend project—the fresh parsley is for garnish, so don't worry if you don't have any.

Get the Recipe: Bean and Ham Hock Stew 

Classic Beef Chili

Chili would be a great use of any frozen beef you have. This recipe also calls for tomato paste, spices, crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, black beans, and dark red kidney beans. Use dried herbs as needed.

Get the Recipe: Classic Beef Chili

Wax Bean Salad with Potatoes, Capers, and Eggs

If you don't have any delicate greens on hand, this salad is a great alternative. Haricots verts can easily be used if wax beans aren't available, so you can make use of any frozen ones you have.

Get the Recipe: Wax Bean Salad with Potatoes, Capers, and Eggs

Fried Spiced Red Lentils

Eva Kolenko

This super simple recipe makes a great snack or topping.

Get the Recipe: Fried Spiced Red Lentils

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