Our current IHCC chef, Donna Hay, is the self-confessed queen of the well-stocked pantry and, by her own admission, if there's a short-cut to be found for delivering maximum freshness and flavour to the plate with minimum effort, she's found it.
She's a woman after my own heart like that. As most of you will know by now (since I bang on about it often enough) I love to make most things from scratch, for many reasons ... I like to know what I'm eating, I reduce my environmental impact by consuming more homemade food and less packaged goods, and perhaps most importantly for the sheer joy of doing so.
Now, don't for one moment be misled into thinking that I spend hours every day slavishly toiling over one dish or another. I don't - a well-stocked pantry is an absolute God-send to me, and means that very rarely do I spend more than 30 minutes over preparing a meal. Even dishes which are more complicated might be broken down into two or three stages and prepped in advance.
How do I achieve that? When produce is in season, I spend a bit of time on the weekends creating many of those pantry staples such as pesto, harissa paste, pasta sauce, preserved lemons, hummus, jams, pickles and chutneys. These all get stashed in the freezer or pantry in meal-size quantities. I also occasionally cook up big batches of chickpeas and dried beans, rice and quinoa, and store by the cupful in the freezer - but to be honest, I don't always get around to that, and I don't have a very big freezer either, so I do often resort to canned chickpeas, canellini beans, borlotti beans, and so on. Canned or frozen chickpeas or beans are ideal for creating a quick and easy meal.
Other staples I always have on hand include: rice - basmati, brown, arborio (for risotto), sushi, and calasparra (for paella); oils - olive (both virgin and extra virgin), rice bran, sesame, avocado, coconut and walnut; vinegars - white (for adding to egg poaching liquid), balsamic, white balsamic, and my new favourite, apple cider; pasta - dried (usually De Cecco brand) in a variety of shapes, lengths and sizes (nearly always at least 6 packets on hand), and fresh homemade fettucine and ravioli (stored in individual portions in the freezer); spices - I keep a fairly extensive selection on hand - they're a great flavour booster - most commonly used in my house is probably smoky paprika; miscellaneous - pomegranate molasses, olives (green and black), mustard (grainy and Dijon) and cheeses - parmesan, pecorino, feta, mozzarella, cheddar; Asian influenced - soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, mirin, Chinese cooking wine, nori sheets, wasabi paste, pickled ginger, miso paste, assorted curry pastes, and noodles (soba, ramen, udon, rice). It doesn't take much more than a bit of fresh vegetables or protein to turn a few of these ingredients into a meal.
In case you haven't guessed where this is all headed, our theme this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs is Pantry Magic - sharing something delicious inspired by the ingredients in our pantries.
This recipe for chorizo with chickpeas and tomatoes was one of the first that I bookmarked when I got my copy of Donna Hay's "Fast, Fresh, Simple". Right there in the "Fast" chapter, using just a few ingredients that I always have on hand, I knew it wouldn't be long before this dish found it's way onto my table. Chorizo is nearly always on hand in my house, and ditto the chickpeas. Fresh cherry tomatoes, I picked up at the vegetable market last week, and were a bit of a hothouse indulgence at this time of year, since we are still a couple of months away from tomato season, though I could just as easily have used here some of the slow roasted tomatoes I have stashed in my freezer. Fresh basil called for in the recipe is not really in season yet either, but I substituted by drizzling with some basil pesto from the freezer. This made a light and delicious lunch (two servings), which could easily be multiplied to feed more people. You could ring any number of changes to this - some kalamata olives and/or feta cheese would be great additions; a drizzle of pomegranate molasses and/or some finely sliced preserved lemon would be a great flavour booster; or serving over grilled sourdough toast with a poached egg on top would turn this into a sensational breakfast/brunch dish.
I'd love to know ... what are some of the things you always have on hand in your pantry?
Chorizo with Chickpeas & Tomatoes Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Donna Hay
from Fast, Fresh, Simple
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
1-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
150g chorizo sausage, thinly sliced
1-1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1x 400g (14 oz) can)
1/4 cup basil pesto
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Working over a small bowl, squeeze cherry tomatoes between your fingers - just enough to split the skins and start the juices running. Set aside.
Set a skillet over medium heat and add a little olive oil to the pan. You won't need very much as there will be a certain amount of fat will come out of the chorizo - probably 1-1/2 teaspoons will be plenty. Once the oil is heated, add chorizo to the pan and saute until browned on both sides.
Add chickpeas and tomatoes, along with any of their accumulated juices, to the pan, and continue to cook until the chickpeas are warmed through, the tomatoes have softened a little, and the tomato juices have mingled with the oils in the pan and turned "syrupy". You'll end up with something rather like a warm dressing.
Remove from heat. Taste and season to your liking with flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Finish with a generous drizzle of pesto.
Delicious served hot straight out of the pan, but just as good at room temperature the next day.
If you would like to get to know Donna Hay a little better, and to see what Pantry Magic everyone else has created, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links ...
... or check out Fast, Fresh, Simple and Donna's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, or Fishpond NZ.
I'll also be sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely, Michelle at Ms. enPlace, at Cook Your Books hosted by Joyce at Kitchen Flavours, and at Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads.
Hi Sue, I recently picked up a Donna Hay magazine that we get in the UK now. I have to say I really enjoyed her flavour combinations. They seemed slightly different to me. This salad being a perfect example. I'm always after ideas for chorizo as it transforms everything you put with it.ReplyDelete
Hi David. That's great you can get Donna Hay magazine in the UK - highly recommend it. She does have some interesting flavour combinations - I hope you enjoy some of her dishes. You're right, chorizo is a great ingredient to use - I often use it as a substitute for bacon in a lot of dishes.Delete
Great representative dish for the theme, Sue. I agree with you about making most meals from scratch. You can eat better and fresher ingredients. We do the same.ReplyDelete
My pantry is overstocked with good quality tomatoes and dried beans right now. I always have pasta in there too!
As a matter of fact, if I dig in the fridge for some bacon, I have all the other ingredients for the dish you made here...yum!
Thanks, Tina. I agree, I think you definitely eat better when you make things from scratch, and there's also something immensely satisfying about that.Delete
Tina, with plenty of tomatoes in your pantry you could easily make a variation of this dish by subbing in some beans for the chickpeas, and bacon for the chorizo. I love dishes that can be endlessly flexible in that way.
That salad looks delicious; I would never have thought to use pesto in way. Great pick.ReplyDelete
In my pantry, I have the usual pasta, rice, dried beans, lentils, grains, tomatoes, oils, and vinegars but I also have a lot of baking ingredients (flours, sugars, chocolates, nuts) taking up space, mostly in the freezer.
Thanks, Zosia. I was actually really pleased with the use of the pesto in this dish. With the heat of dish, some of the pesto kind of dissolved into the dressing - delicious.Delete
Must admit I'm not a regular baker, so I don't generally have a great selection of baking supplies in my pantry - a few of the basics is all.
I have not cooked with chorizo much, but this sure looks good. I also like to make up staples on the weekends. We have pesto and a homemade vegetable bouillon concentrate in the freezer. And in the garage this years jam making.ReplyDelete
Melynda, I love using chorizo - it keeps well in the fridge, and often makes for a quick and easy substitute for bacon in all manner or dishes. Homemade vegetable bouillon is something I keep meaning to make - I came across a great recipe for it ages ago on Heidi Swanson's blog (101 Cookbooks), and have been wanting to make it. Do you have a favourite recipe that you use? I have a big cupboard in which I keep all my homemade jams and preserves - I'll be looking forward to starting next year's jam supplies in a couple of months time.Delete
Such a beautiful and delicious looking salad, Sue! I like it that you've made most meals from scratch.ReplyDelete
I would usually have some jars of spaghetti sauce, canned tuna, beans, baking stuffs like oats, dried fruits. Once in a while, I would make some sauce or pesto and keep that in the freezer.
If only my pantry has more space, I would for sure be having more stuffs in there! :)
Thanks so much , Joyce. I am certainly lucky enough to have a reasonable sized pantry for storing a lot of stuff in, and I also have a separate whole cupboard for storing all the homemade jams and bottled preserves that I make throughout the year. Just wish my freezer was a bit larger for accommodating many of the other things I like to make and store.Delete
Thanks for sharing with CYB! Hope you have a lovely, delicious week!
Oh wow what a delicious and savory recipe, can't wait to try!ReplyDelete
Happy Valley Chow
Thanks, Eric. Hope you enjoy it.Delete
I had this book marked to try also!ReplyDelete
I'm sure you won't be disappointed, Pam - it's a great, simple dish, with a multitude of possible variations.Delete
Fabulous post! I too like to have full freezer and pantry of foods I've made in batches: beans, cooked ground meat & meat balls, sauces, etc. But, like you, I also have canned beans on hand to add variety. This is a great dish, easily doable if you, like me, always have some kind of sausage in the freezer. I have yet to make my own preserved lemons, but maybe I'll give it a try this winter.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Beth. Actually I've never thought of keeping a stash of meat balls in the freezer - great idea - I'll definitely be borrowing that one. But yes,I do always have some kind of sausage in the freezer, along with meal-sized slabs of bacon or speck, which would in fact be a could substitute in this recipe if you didn't have chorizo. Nice chunks of a spicy merguez sausage would be good too.Delete
This looks divine! I am definitely trying this!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Peggy Ann - I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by - I hope you'll visit again.Delete
I found a recipe in Food & Wine magazine some years ago that combined chorizo, butter beans, and tomatoes. It was excellent. I like the idea of using basil in some form. And, my son is much more partial to chick peas than butter beans. Great dish, Sue!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Michelle. Actually, I posted a Jamie Oliver inspired dish a couple of years ago with chorizo, cannellini beans and tomatoes, with garlic and spinach (which I know would be right up your alley). I really liked the basil in this dish, and I think the pesto actually worked better than the fresh basil would have.Delete
Thanks for linking up. You know, even the name is fun...chorizo & chickpeas!Delete
Those tomatoes look so real, I would like to bite into one. I love this combination.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Chaya. Actually, it's really not tomato season here just yet - these were typical, lacking-in-flavour, hot house tomatoes - but cooking the tomatoes and pairing with chorizo sausage and basil pesto really brought the best out in them.Delete
Such an informative post! I have a small apartment kitchen, but I like to keep a stocked pantry. I make a Trader Joe's run to stock up on diced tomatoes, tomato paste, olives, black olives, refried beans, chicken and beef stock, mayonnaise, dijon mustard and of course olive oil.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Diane. We don't have Trader Joe's here in New Zealand, but I did discover TJs when I was visting my daughter in San Francisco a couple of months ago. If I lived there I would be stocking my pantry shelves at Trader Joe's on a regular basis :-)Delete
I love her recipes for the same reasons you do...I don't think I have ever had a DH recipe that the guys didn't like as well, which is a huge plus around here. It was such fun reading about your pantry...I have long suspected you would own such a valuable resource since our days of cooking together in the Hazan Italian group awhile back...this just confirms it. Great read and I do have to mark this recipe to try soon.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Kayte. I don't think I've ever had a DH fail yet - everything I make always seems to meet with approval around here as well. I miss out Marcella Hazan Cooking Italy group, and so sad that she's now passed away - she'll definitely be living on in my kitchen though.Delete
Sue - I love to chat about pantry staples and I see that you do too :) I have many of the same things in my pantry, but if I had to narrow it down to the top five then I'd say several varieties of pasta, rice, beans, lentils, and canned tomatoes. So many possibilities with just those five.ReplyDelete
At any rate, this chorizo with chickpeas and tomatoes is right up my alley and looks absolutely perfect as is! I love the pop of fresh flavor with the basil pesto and I too think this would be wonderful with an egg on top, although it surely does not need it!
So impressed you were able to put this together with everything going on. Hope you dad is doing well! Lots of love to you..xoxox
Kim, I could chat about pantry staples all day long, and whenever I go away from home, I spend a lot of time browsing new to me kitchen shops and delis seeking out new things to add to my pantry - it's always much more appealing to me than clothes and shoe shopping.Delete
Thanks for your thoughts and concern - Dad is recovering well xo
My pantry has changed tremendously over the last couple of years. And not a box/bag of processed food anywhere. Love making from scratch. Best kind of cooking. But your pantry sounds amazing.ReplyDelete
You sound like a woman after my own heart - I don't have any processed food in my pantry either, with the exception of a few curry paste sachets.Delete
I get nervous without at least a half-dozen cans of chickpeas in my pantry cupboard at all times! ;-) Actually any bean--although I can usually get along with 4 cans or so of the others.ReplyDelete
This looks like such a terrific meal. I am sure the fresh basil would be good but I think the pesto drizzle makes it even better--it makes me want to dig right in.
Deb I feel like that when my pasta stash gets low :-)Delete
I think you'd love this dish, Deb, though you'd maybe prefer to sub in some mushrooms or eggplant instead of the chorizo. I think the pesto made it a bit better as well.
Great dish Sue :) And love your tweaks, your so good at keeping all stocked up with your pestos, harissas & preserved lemons & what not! I do have the lemons but I do need to get back in to preserving mode! The only problem is no space in the pantry!!!ReplyDelete
That looks so good. I love cooking out of my pantry and freezer, when I remember to do it -- it feels so creative. Yesterday, I made a savory bread pudding using frozen bread ends, a chili pepper from last fall that got forgotten in the freezer, Scarborough Fair pesto that I froze in ice cube trays this spring (and want to make more of while my herbs are still growing in the garden), and pecans that I froze a year ago and want to replace now. It turned out yummy! And made me feel so frugal.ReplyDelete
Joy's Book Blog
Lovely one! Healthy and so pretty too!ReplyDelete
I've never tasted chick peas. Just asked my husband. He has tried them. Says they are very nutritious.ReplyDelete
I'm totally aligned to your food philosophy Sue but confess I've never been into Donna Hay. I've always thought her magazines look intimidating. I shall however get a couple from the library and dig in for a challenge. Thanks for the inspiration.ReplyDelete