6 Pantry Items Spring into Dinner

Cooking How-To, Dinner, How-To, Recipes
on April 14, 2011
Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn

Think you’ve got a pantry filled with one hit wonders? Well think again.  These six culinary staples may sound specific in their usage, but keep them in your kitchen and the cooking possibilities are endless:

Frozen Butternut Squash

  • Toss with short pasta, sausage and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
  • Add to risotto.
  • Puree or mash with aged Cheddar cheese for a great alternative to mashed potatoes.


Herbed Cream Cheese

  • Spread on salmon, top with artichoke hearts and bake.
  • Toss with short pasta, shrimp, cherry tomatoes, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and basil.
  • For a quick appetizer, spread on pear half, drizzle with honey and broil.


Italian Dressing Mix

Combine with good sherry or balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil, then . . .

  • Toss with cold rice, garbanzo beans and chopped red bell peppers for a rice salad.
  • Use as a marinade for chicken breasts.
  • Toss with couscous, shredded rotisserie chicken, green onions and fresh spinach.


Jarred Roasted Red Bell Peppers

  • Puree with garlic, nuts, olive oil and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for roasted red pepper pesto.
  • Toss in pasta or rice or omelets.
  • Put on pizza, focaccia or grilled sandwiches.


Fig Preserves

  • Whisk with soy sauce, garlic and lime juice; pour over pork loin or chicken and bake.
  • Spread on a small wheel of Brie cheese and bake.
  • Heat and drizzle over ice cream.
  • Dollop on bruschetta with goat cheese.


Frozen Tortellini

  • Cook, then saute until browned and crunchy and toss with a green salad.
  • Toss with beans and dressing for pasta salad.
  • Add to chicken broth with vegetables for a quick soup.
  • Combine with sautéed garlic, fire-roasted tomatoes and basil.