You know the scenario: It’s late, you’ve just returned home from a long day at work, and there are no groceries in the house to speak of. Before you pick up the phone to order your second pizza delivery of the week, stop and check your cupboards first. Bread (even the stale variety!), oatmeal, jarred tomatoes, a block of cheese—just a couple of these pantry ingredients can be enough to make a delightful dinner.
Next time you’re short on ingredients, turn to one of these eight different recipes. Then sit down to enjoy a simple, humble meal, and relish the thought that you’ve managed to transform what seemed like nothing into something.
Sopa de ajo, a Castilian specialty, is famously restorative, but it’s actually made with little more than stale bread, garlic cloves and water.
|Cacio e Pepe
Cheese, pepper, pasta, butter: That’s all you need to make this Roman specialty.
While it’s usually relegated to breakfast, oatmeal shouldn’t be overlooked as a dinner option. This recipe’s incredibly versatile: Swap the trout for canned tuna, or omit the fish altogether; drizzle the bowl with sesame oil and soy sauce in place of olive oil; try stirring in shredded cheese of any kind.
|Roasted Tomato Soup
This beloved recipe comes from Los Angeles chef Ray Garcia. If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, that’s no biggie; it would work using canned tomatoes, too.
Soft, stretchy cheese between two slices of bread: that’s all the proof in the world that sometimes the simplest foods in the world are the best. As long as you have a melting cheese and slices of any type of bread, grilled cheese can be in your future. (You can even make a version of egg-in-a-hole sandwiches if you have a couple of eggs on hand.)
|Vegetable & Lentil Soup
Vegetable-lentil soup is a classic. Make it using whatever variety of lentils you have on hand; any variety of canned tomato—stewed, diced, whole—would work, too.
|Baked Eggs with Spinach and Cream
This comforting dish comes together with just four ingredients excluding seasonings: eggs, spinach, cream and butter. If you don’t have spinach, substitute any other leafy green, such as kale or chard, or even frozen spinach that’s been defrosted and drained.
Although this recipe calls for homemade fresh pasta, we’d also turn to it on a busy weeknight for the dried spaghetti we often keep on hand. Use boxed pasta of any variety to create a