How to Use Pantry Items with Delicious Results

This is a great time to use what’s already in your pantry to create delicious meals in no time. Transform common pantry staples into dishes that are delicious and good for you, too.

Rice and Beans – sauté chopped onion and garlic in a large pot over medium heat. Add a can of stock or broth (or use water if you don’t have stock). Add a cup of rice and a can of black or pinto beans, including the liquid from the beans. Combine, cover the pot and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the rice is done. Season with salt, pepper and any spices you like. If you have them on hand, lime wedges and cilantro are a fabulous garnish and flavor-booster.

Peanut Noodles – Make a luscious Asian-inspired peanut sauce using peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil and a splash of water or broth to create a smooth, stir-able sauce. If you like things spicy, add hot chili oil, red pepper flakes or Sriracha to taste. Toss with long pasta or, if you have them, soba or other Asian noodles.

Tuna Tacos – If you have a can or two of tuna and a package of taco shells or tortillas, tuna tacos are quick and easy to make. Just heat a little olive oil in a skillet, add drained tuna, and cook until the tuna is heated through. Add salt, pepper and any other spices of your choice. Add the tuna to the taco shells and serve with whatever toppings you have on hand, like cheese, chopped onion, chopped cilantro or sour cream. You can also add sautéed peppers or other veggies to your tacos.

Cheesy Bean Casserole – sauté chopped garlic in olive oil. Add about 3 tablespoons of tomato paste and two cans of drained beans (cannellini, garbanzo, Great Northern, black, or a combination). Stir in ½ cup of boiling water and season with salt and pepper. Top with plenty of grated cheese, then bake at 450°F until warm and melty.

Easy Lentil Soup – sauté chopped onions, garlic and carrots until soft. Add a can of diced tomatoes, 1½ cups dried lentils, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder or your favorite spices to taste, and 4 cups of canned broth, water or a combination of the two. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are done, about 30 minutes. Variation: Use canned lentils, or a combination of lentils and canned beans.

The next time you’re thinking about what to make for dinner, take a trip to your pantry…you might just find some inspiration and a delicious meal, too!

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