Pantry Pasta

Pantry Pasta

If you've got a can of tomatoes, a jar of spicy peperoncini, and a hunk of Parm in your fridge, you're halfway to a satisfying pasta dinner.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • ½ medium red onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup torn pitted olives, preferably Castelvetrano
  • 1 14-ounce can cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ cup peperoncini, thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces Pecorino or Parmesan, finely grated, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Recipe Preparation

  • Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook sausage, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, browned, and crisp in places, 5–8 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl with a slotted spoon. Reduce heat to medium; add onion and olives to skillet. Cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, mashing tomatoes lightly and stirring often, until juices are slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

  • Add pasta and ¾ cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce and cook, tossing, until pasta is al dente and sauce coats noodles. Mix in peperoncini, cooked sausage, and another ¼ cup pasta cooking liquid. Then, tossing constantly, gradually add all but ½ cup cheese, followed by butter. Once incorporated, remove from heat and mix in basil. Divide pasta among bowls. Drizzle with oil; top with remaining cheese.

Recipe by Sarah Grueneberg, Monteverde, Chicago, IL,

Nutritional Content

Calories (kcal) 600 Fat (g) 24 Saturated Fat (g) 9 Cholesterol (mg) 45 Carbohydrates (g) 72 Dietary Fiber (g) 4 Total Sugars (g) 6 Protein (g) 24 Sodium (mg) 960

Related Video

Andy Makes Pantry Pasta

Reviews SectionDelicious!! Modified to do 8 oz sweet sausage, 8 oz spicy sausage, used fresh tomatoes and added 4 pressed garlic cloves. Soo good!So I didn’t stick to the recipe 100%, but that doesn’t change the fact that I loved it. I made it a tad more my style, by using spicy sausage, and Roma tomatoes because whole foods didn’t have cherry, and subbed spaghetti for bucatini. But it was definitely a very simple and rewarding meal.AnonymousWichita, Ks06/08/19

This Italian Pantry Pasta Recipe Has Endless Variations

Making good food from pantry staples is something we're all thinking about right now. As I write this, schools and restaurants close, our homes become our offices, and cities go quiet as the novel coronavirus slips silently through our communities. After a while, though, the concern goes from just making good food to keeping those meals interesting because the 17th appearance of the same recipe on the dinner table is enough to drive anyone stir-crazy.

I guess it's a funny coincidence that I've recently been working on recipes for spaghetti alla carrettiera, "the cart driver's spaghetti." That's recipes, plural, because it's a dish that comes in many different forms, a fact that strikes at this larger cooking challenge we're all grappling with: keeping things interesting in the kitchen.

The first time I learned about carrettiera sauce I was working for the chef Cesare Casella, who, for a while in the early 2000s, had me poring through obscure, old Italian cookbooks from Italy's Maremma valley—a geographic expanse that runs along the country's western coast from northern Lazio (home region of Rome) up into southern Tuscany—in preparation for a new restaurant he was opening at the time.

In those cookbooks, spaghetti alla carrettiera was presented as a slightly unusual sauce made from jarred or canned tomatoes, canned tuna in olive oil, and rehydrated dried porcini mushrooms. Those aren't the most obvious ingredients to toss together into a pasta sauce, at least not to me, but one bite will do more than enough to convince you it's a good idea.

The story of the recipe is that it was created by the carrettieri, cart drivers who more than a century ago would wind their way from town to town and city to city, selling all sorts of goods the locals might need. To feed themselves and others on the road, they'd whip up easy pastas using the kinds of shelf-stable pantry ingredients they were likely to have stowed away on their carts. Hence the canned tuna. Hence the dried mushrooms. Hence the jarred tomatoes. Some garlic and a tuft of parsley were all they needed to add some freshness to the dish.

Since then, I've come across recipes for spaghetti alla carrettiera online, and in other books, and they've often perplexed me. At times they varied so much from the version I knew that it was hard to make sense of why they shared the same name. Instead of canned tomatoes, these other versions used chopped-up fresh ones instead of parsley, perhaps basil and no tuna or mushrooms at all, instead turning to toasted breadcrumbs. And in those recipes, the sauce wasn't cooked but tossed raw with the hot pasta and some of its cooking water, just enough to warm it all through and bind everything together. Which one, I wondered, was the real carrettiera?

Eventually, I managed to make at least partial sense of it: The fresh sauce versions tended to come from Sicily while the canned tomato ones seemed to center around Rome. What they had in common was the cart driver, who, depending on the locale, seems to have had a different assortment of ingredients in their cart. Farther north, that meant preserved mushrooms and fish and tomatoes. Down south, fresh tomatoes must have been in even greater abundance for more of the year (there's also a Sicilian version with no tomato at all, ostensibly for when the fruit wasn't available in fresh form).

And this, really, gets to the core of why this pasta is so meaningful right now. It's not just that there is no one true version of spaghetti alla carrettiera—no, that much you can say about any recipe. It's that the defining character of spaghetti alla carrettiera is that it has very little definition at all. Even within the two broad categories of carrettiera that I've described, there's constant variation. Some Roman-style recipes use no tuna, some forego mushrooms, some lack both, while others add olives or capers. In Sicily, the herbs can be parsley or basil, while cheese, usually a firm Sicilian Pecorino or ricotta salata, is sometimes added. but not always.

Spaghetti alla carrettiera offers two things to us all right now. The first is practical—recipe ideas that we can lean on in the coming weeks to make mealtime a little more interesting. The second is more philosophical. At its heart, carrettiera is the pantry pasta sauce, demonstrating just how much possibility is already hidden within our larders. Let's take inspiration from that.

22 Easy Recipes You Can Make With Pantry Staples

If you’re self-quarantined because of the coronavirus outbreak, one of the first things you should do is stock up on all the proper groceries and pantry staples that’ll get you through your long stay at home. The only trouble is, when most of us are faced with shelves full of canned tuna, dried pasta and beans, we can’t possibly imagine turning that into something delicious.

That’s where these recipes come in handy. From pasta salads to soups and sandwich fillings, we found 22 recipes that use the following pantry staples as their foundation:

Pasta: Any shape you want. A self-quarantine isn’t “Top Chef,” so no one is judging whether your pasta is the optimal shape for absorbing your sauce.

Canned tuna fish: Or canned salmon, if you wish! It can be packed in oil or water ― these recipes are versatile enough that you can make anything work.

Canned tomatoes: In this case, it truly doesn’t matter whether they’re diced, crushed or whole (you can always chop the whole ones). Just try to avoid pureed, if possible, since they’re pretty watery. We have a handy guide to which brands taste the best.

Beans: Dried or canned are both fine. Just remember that unless you have an Instant Pot, you’ll likely have to soak dried beans up to a day in advance. Go for black beans, garbanzos, black eyed peas, pintos — honestly anything you like will work for most of these recipes.

Stock/Broth: Chicken is a great choice for meat eaters, and vegetable is obviously best for vegetarians and vegans. Stock is a great tool for taking rice from boring to flavorful.

Rice: Brown has the most fiber, so will keep you feeling full longer. Otherwise, choose whatever you like best, whether it’s sushi rice, white rice, jasmine, basmati, etc.

Bread: Any kind you want! Just consider storing it in the freezer (never the refrigerator) if you think you’ll need to be eating it for longer than a few days.

Jarred pickles, capers, olives and sun-dried tomatoes: These briny ingredients will pack a ton of flavor, so keep plenty handy.

Spices: Dried herbs and spices are what’ll keep all your recipes from tasting the same. Load up on cumin, coriander, red chile flakes, cinnamon, turmeric and more.

Freezer staple: Frozen vegetables. Buy all the frozen peas, carrots, green beans, squash, spinach and other veggies that you love. They’ll freshen up all your recipes and you won’t have to worry about them rotting.

Now go check out the recipes below, and remember to be flexible and creative. If you don’t have a couple ingredients that the recipe calls for, you can likely do just fine without them or find a similar substitute. It’s all up to you! This is one thing you can actually control right now, so enjoy.

Recipe Summary

  • 7 ounces fusilli pasta
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 ounces oil-cured black olives, drained
  • 2 ounces sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
  • 1 ounce capers in brine, drained
  • 1 (3 ounce) can tuna in water, drained
  • 2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until tender yet firm to the bite, about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet and saute shallot until soft and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add olives, chopped tomatoes, and capers. Mix well and remove from heat.

Drain pasta, add to the skillet, and toss to coat. Mix in tuna in chunks. Top with Romano cheese and serve.

This Vegan Red Pepper Pantry Pasta Is Easy on a Weeknight—and Even Easier on Your Wallet

Everybody has at least one shelf-stable something that their pantry feels incomplete without, the kind of ingredient that can inspire dinner on even the least inspiring nights. For me, that something is a jar of roasted red peppers.

A few tender, sweet, slightly smoky peppers aren’t a meal on their own, but they’re a versatile jumping off point that can take you in a ton of different directions. With a container to my name, I can bulk up a niçoise salad, sweeten a pot of stewy black beans, flavor a tuna noodle casserole, or blitz together romesco—all good choices when I’m looking for big payoff without a lot of work (i.e., most of the time). Plus, jarred peppers are inexpensive, so you can easily build a dish around them that won’t break the bank. In my opinion, any smart cook is smarter with a jar on their shelf.

Lately I’ve been turning roasted red peppers into pantry pasta sauce: flavorful, thick, creamy, and (almost accidentally) totally vegan, thanks to the inclusion of a can of white beans and some starchy pasta water. Everything comes together in one pot while you boil your favorite pasta shape in another in under an hour, you can transform a collection of mostly pantry staples into a bright and homey meal.

Mashed white beans for creaminess + roasted red peppers for sweetness = a killer pantry one-two punch.

Photo by Joseph De Leo, Food Styling by Micah Marie Morton

To make this easy dinner, you’ll first cook down your finely chopped peppers with aromatics until soft and fragrant, then add lemon juice and zest for a bit of brightness. I like the peppers that come whole, but you can definitely use strips and approximate amounts—they’ll all get minced eventually anyway. Adding the beans at this stage means breaking them down a bit by crushing them with the back of your spoon and starting to integrate them into the rest of the ingredients to create a rough mash. Finally, you’ll add your pasta water bit by bit on a lower heat, stirring and mashing as you go, until creamy and combined. All that’s left is to toss in your pasta I love this with something tubular that the rustic sauce can hide inside.

For a crispy finishing touch (that you’ll actually make first, to use the same pot for easy cleanup), the recipe calls for a batch of “garlic bread breadcrumbs,” so named because they taste like a pulverized version of the beloved side dish. Parsley and garlic do the flavor heavy lifting, and the result is what my colleague Joe Sevier called “spoonworthy, TBH.” I—a person whose fiancé found her eating cooled breadcrumbs straight from the pan with her fingers—couldn’t agree more. On top of the rich and saucy pasta, a hearty sprinkling provides just the right amount of texture and a fresh bite to boot.

3 Super Easy Pasta Recipes You Can Make with Ingredients in Your Pantry

PEOPLE Food Editor Shay Spence shows how to whip up quick pasta dinners using ingredients you may already have on hand.

As many of us are making fewer grocery store trips and often finding our favorite ingredients to be out of stock when we do go, a little innovation in the kitchen is needed now more than ever.

On the latest episode of PEOPLE&aposs Pantry, I show you how to make three super easy (seriously—I don&apost use that word lightly) pasta dishes using affordable pantry staples, and give you my favorite pasta cooking hacks along the way.

Watch the preview above and see the full episode on PeopleTV, then follow the recipes below to make them at home.

White Bean Fettuccine Alfredo

1 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 (15-oz.) can cannellini beans, drained

2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400ଏ. Place garlic cloves on a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap tightly in foil and roast in the oven directly on the rack for about 40 minutes.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season generously with salt. Cook fettuccine in boiling water until it&aposs just slightly undercooked (it will finish cooking in the sauce.) Reserve 2 cups of the pasta water and drain the rest.

3. In a blender, add roasted garlic, cannellini beans, 2 tsp. salt and 1 cup reserved pasta water. Blend for 2 minutes, until very smooth.

4. In a large, straight-sided skillet over medium low, add the bean sauce and bring to a simmer, then add cooked fettuccine. Let them simmer together, adding more pasta water 1/4 cup at a time as necessary.

5. Remove from heat and stir in black pepper and parmesan, if using. Serve with an extra drizzle of olive oil.

Spicy Peanut Noodles

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

1 tbsp. sriracha, sambal oelek, or other hot sauce

1 tbsp. rice vinegar or white vinegar

1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil or light olive oil

Toasted peanuts, sliced scallions and sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

1. Cook spaghetti in a large pot of salted water. Reserve 2 cups of the pasta water before draining.

2. In a bowl, add peanut butter, soy sauce, sriracha, vinegar and sesame oil. (Note: You can also mix this all in the peanut butter jar and shake it together, as shown in the video). Whisk in 1 cup of the hot pasta water until combined, then toss in the spaghetti. Add more pasta water if it seems dry.

3. Serve hot, room temperature or cold, topped with desired garnishes.

Creamiest-Ever Mac and Cheese

1 lb. short pasta, like elbows or cavatappi

1 (12-oz.) can evaporated milk

3 oz. American cheese (or other processed cheese like spreadable cheese wedges or Velveeta)

2 1/2 cups grated cheddar or jack cheese

1 cup breadcrumbs or crushed crackers (optional)

2 tbsp. oil or melted butter (optional)

1. Add pasta to a cold pot and cover with cold water by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring frequently.

2. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and let continue to simmer until noodles are almost cooked through. Drain about half of the water off and add the evaporated milk and 1 tsp. salt and let simmer for an additional two minutes. (You can also add other seasonings like garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and cayenne here.) Remove from heat and add cheeses, stirring constantly until thickened and creamy. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools slightly.

3. If you want a crunchy topping, transfer to a casserole dish. Toss breadcrumbs with oil or butter and spread evenly over the top. Pop under your broiler for 5-7 minutes, until browned on top and bubbly.

Easy Pasta Recipes to Make with Pantry Staples

This post was originally written several years ago to highlight no-fail, delicious weeknight dinners, but it seems especially appropriate to resurface now, since it showcases three extremely easy pasta recipes made with pantry staples. If you’re looking for a simple, no-fuss dinner that’s hearty, comforting, and doesn’t require a grocery order, these work wonders.

Our current circumstances may have changed a bit, but even if you’re working from home right now, you’ll still fall for all three of Chris Rochelle’s pasta standbys. Here, his original words and photos from 2014:

After a long day at work, coming home to cook can sometimes seem like a dreadful thought. I want to prepare things quickly so I tend to speed up the process, which inevitably leads to problems. Failed homemade veggie burgers, overbaked quinoa thing, idiot-proof paella turned to mush: These are just a few of my disasters. Here are three recipes that haven’t gone wrong for me yet. For two of the recipes, the sauce can be made during the time it takes to boil the pasta. The third, adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter, takes 45 minutes but it’s the easiest of the three. I’ll start with that one.

Rigatoni in Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

No technique in the kitchen? Create a huge mess when you cook? Forget about things while they’re cooking and turn delicate things into carbon? Don’t worry, this recipe is almost technique-free, and there’s almost no mess, plus you only have to remember to give it a stir three times throughout the process. No surprise here, but butter does create magic. The original recipe calls for both ends of the onion to be trimmed, peeled, and cut lengthwise. I then slice it into thin strips because it works well with bites of rigatoni. It’s up to you.

Hand Picked Whole Peeled Plum Tomatoes in 28 Ounce Cans, 4 Pack for $28 on Amazon

What you need:

  • 3 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
  • 1 medium sweet yellow onion
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound pasta

1. Add all of the ingredients except the pasta to a large Dutch oven over medium heat. When it starts to bubble, give it a good stir and lower the heat to a steady simmer. Cook for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. (It should be nice and thick at the end.) About 15 minutes before the sauce is done, start cooking your pasta according to the package directions.

2. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce.

Desperation Spaghetti Carbonara (aka, Carbonara without Bacon)

This is the most stripped-down version of carbonara you’ve probably ever seen. It’s what I turn to when there’s nothing left in the fridge. I’ve never made it with pancetta or bacon. I threw in some peas once and that was nice. A sprinkle of chopped flat-leaf parsley on top? Sounds good if you have it. All you really need is a couple of eggs, a pound of spaghetti, a couple cloves of garlic, and olive oil. Scrape off the mold from the parmesan hidden in the back of the fridge—you’ll need that too. It tastes better than it sounds.

What you need:

  • 1 pound pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 large eggs, beaten

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the pasta. Five minutes before the pasta is cooked, add the oil to a deep heavy skillet or Dutch oven. Add the garlic and sauté for a few minutes.

2. Turn off the heat under the skillet. Drain the cooked pasta, reserving a half cup of the starchy water. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss with the garlic. Add half of the cheese and toss for 1 minute. Add the eggs and toss for 1 minute. Add the remaining cheese and toss again for about 2 minutes. Then add a bit of the reserved pasta water to loosen it up to the desired consistency (I usually add about 1/4 cup). Serve immediately.

Spaghetti Puttanesca (Or: How to Butcher Jamie Oliver’s Puttanesca Recipe)

This was the first recipe I made from a TV program (“The Naked Chef”), back when you had to watch and write quickly because it didn’t exist online. So I wrote it down and made it many times. Memorized it. Lost the paper. Kept making it as my memory faded, and now have ended up with this thing you see here. My favorite pasta sauce recipe, hands down!

What you need:

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 (2-ounce) can anchovies, packed in olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon capers, including the brine
  • 1 large jalapeño, large dice
  • 1 pound tomatoes, extra-large dice (use canned in a pinch)
  • 6 to 8 kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • Freshly grated black pepper
  • Olive oil

1. Start boiling the pasta. Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, pour in all of the oil from the anchovies and then add the anchovies, garlic, and capers. Cook for 1 minute.

2. Add the jalapeño and cook for 1 more minute.

3. Add the tomatoes and olives and cook for 3 more minutes.

4. Toss the sauce with the drained pasta, add some pepper and olive oil, and toss again. Serve.

Pantry Pasta for Two

Heat medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add olive oil. When warm add diced red onion and stir. Cook slowly for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, then stir and cook for one minute. Pour in diced tomatoes with their juice. Add chopped olives. Stir and cook for a minute or two.

Splash in wine, then stir and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While sauce is cooking, sprinkle salt and freshly ground black pepper over the chicken breasts. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a separate skillet. Cook on both sides until golden brown and done. Set aside.

Toss cooked linguine in olive oil and arrange on a small platter. Spoon 3/4 of the sauce over the pasta. Place chicken on top, then spoon remaining sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle on grated Parmesan and serve immediately.

I&rsquom always so busy making meals for the six people in my family (three of whom are boys and will eat me out of house and home if I don&rsquot say my prayers right), I sometimes forget that not all households are swarming with millions of hungry mouths. So last night I whipped up a quick and easy pasta dish for two people, just for kicks.

Problem is, it wound up being enough for four people. Moderation has never been my strong suit.

This is a really easy dish to throw together, and the results are wonderful. I call it Pantry Pasta because most of the ingredients come from&hellipthe pantry! And technically, since my freezer is in the pantry and the chicken I use came from the freezer, the chicken also came from the pantry! I realize that sounds gross.

Begin by cutting a red onion in half from root to tip. Lop off the tip, then peel off the skin.

Make several slices, then cut in the other direction to dice.

Grab some olives. Any variety will do, but the more salty and naughty, the better.

Pop out the pits if they have some.

Then squish &rsquoem up or give &rsquoem a rough chop.

Pour some olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.

Throw in the onions and stir them around, cooking them for a good several minutes.

Then throw it in with the onions. Cook it for another minute.

Throw in a can of diced tomatoes, juice and all.

Pour in a little wine for flavor and moisture&hellip

Then simmer it on the lowest heat while you make the chicken. Stir it occasionally while you&rsquore making the chicken.

Pound the chicken so that it&rsquos a uniform thickness, then sprinkle it generously with salt and pepper.

Add some olive oil and butter to a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Then add in the chicken and cook it until it&rsquos brown on both sides and done in the middle.

To serve, arrange cooked linguine on a small platter or plate, then spoon 3/4 of the sauce over the pasta.

Set the chicken breasts on top.

Then spoon the rest of the sauce over the top of the chicken.

Okay, so this looks like pasta for four. Maybe even pasta for six.

Grate up some Parmesan cheese&hellip

Then sprinkle it over the top.

Then stand back and behold what you have created from such simple ingredients.

21 Easy Pasta Recipes to Make Every Day Until Further Notice

If you’re trying to find the words that potentially could make your current quarantine situation a little easier to stomach, here you go: easy pasta recipes. There’s something about being cooped up that calls for an abundance of comfort food, and nothing compares to a big bowl of cheesy baked ziti, lemony fusilli, or soupy ramen.

All the pasta recipes below aren't only easy to put together they all use basic ingredients you most certainly have in your pantry or are easily affordable and accessible if you need to grab a thing or two during your next socially distant supermarket run. (No crab and lobster linguini with fresh thyme here—one day, though!)

Keep reading to uncover 21 easy pasta recipes to make today, tomorrow, and—probably—the day after too.

Garlic Parmesan Pantry Pasta with Crunchy Breadcrumbs

When you don’t have a lot of fresh ingredients in the house, you can still create a beautiful pasta with a few simple ingredients from your pantry. This dish may only use a handful of ingredients, but it’s the type of pasta you find yourself craving thanks to its simple garlic-kissed pan sauce and oh-so-crispy breadcrumbs. This is the pasta I always turn to when I want something comforting and delicious but incredibly quick. And, believe me, it’s all of those things.

It’s often said that a dish is only as good as the ingredients in it, and while that’s certainly true, this pasta lets you get away with using some pretty basic ones. It’s all in the preparation method here, where you’re creating a quick pan sauce that relies mostly on some pan-fried garlic and pasta water to bring it all together. (I’m counting parmesan cheese as a pantry staple here too, and that helps form a nice creamy coating for the noodles without the use of butter.)

While the chili flake and browned garlic make this pasta so flavorful, the extra special touch is the breadcrumb topping. All it requires is heating some olive oil in a pan and giving the breadcrumbs a quick chance to hop in and get golden brown and toasty. It’s so easy you’ll be thinking of as many other things to top them with as you can – they really do make everything better. (And they’re so simple to make!)