Sunday, 17 November 2013

4 pantry staples, 17 meal ideas!

So many people adapt recipes to suit what they already have in the house. So a well stocked pantry can make planning dinner a whole lot easier (if you have a few good ideas on hand!)...

I've developed a (by no means extensive!) list of some pantry staples and ideas of meals you can use them in for the next time you're stuck staring at the pantry trying to decide what to cook for dinner:

Canned diced tomatoes- Go for no-added-salt versions

Use use diced tomatoes mixed with onion, garlic and herbs as a substitute for pre-made pasta sauces.
  • Spaghetti Bolognaise (Just add lean beef mince, onion, garlic, oregano, grated carrot and zucchini, tomato paste and a splash of red wine. The longer you simmer, the better the flavour. Serve with pasta and a green salad)
  • Tomato, capsicum and red kidney bean chilli (Saute onion, garlic and mexican chilli powder, add red capsicum, diced tomato and red kidney beans. Serve with brown rice or pearl cous cous, or pour into individual ramekins, crack an egg in the centre and cook in the oven like a baked egg!)
  • Minestrone soup (Simmer with beef stock, cannellini beans, ham, small pasta and assorted veg and serve with crusty bread)
  • Chicken enchiladas (Cook a 'tomato sauce' with the diced tomatoes, onion and garlic. Combine half of this mixture with shredded chicken, red kidney beans, grated carrot and zucchini. Fill into wholegrain tortillas and bake topped with extra 'tomato sauce' and reduced fat grated cheese. Before serving, slice avocado onto the top of the enchiladas)
  • Beef and spinach lasagne (Add diced tomatoes to lean beef mince, onion, garlic and herbs. Once cooked and thickened, layer with lasagne sheets, baby spinach and a white sauce made of ricotta, basil pesto and milk. Top with parmesan, bake, and serve with a green salad) 

Canned beans- Go for no-added salt versions

Try red kidney beans, chickpeas, cannellini (white) beans, or four-bean mix. The small 125g cans are perfect for meals for one!
  • Tacos (Simmer red kidney beans with lean beef mince, onion, tomato paste, mexican chilli powder and fresh chilli. Fill tacos with beef mixture, avocado, reduced fat grated cheese, tomato and lettuce)
  • Stuffed capsicums (click here for the recipe)
  • Bean based vegie patties (Mash chickpeas or four-bean mix with pumpkin or sweet potato, garlic, chilli, spring onion, breadcrumbs and lemon juice. Shape into patties, coat lightly in more breadcrumbs and refrigerate before baking in the oven. Serve on wholegrain rolls with tzatziki and salad)
  • Grilled fish and white bean mash (Mash beans with a little olive oil, garlic and pepper as an alternative to mashed potato. Serve with grilled fish, roast veg and lemon)
  • Roast veg & chickpea salad (Combine roasted veg- think pumpkin, capsicum, red onion- with chickpeas, baby spinach, fetta and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar)

Rice- Go for brown rice or low GI white rice such as doongarra or basmati

Rice is great both as a side dish or as the base of a main meal. It can suit so many different cuisines- think Asian, Indian, Spanish or Mexican!
  • Cashew nut beef stir fry (stir fry beef, onion, veg and cashew nuts with garlic, soy sauce and chilli jam. Serve with steamed rice)
  • Mexican rice (Saute onion, garlic, chilli, paprika and cumin. Add rice, chicken stock and tomato paste. When rice is nearly cooked add red kidney beans and parsley. Serve with chicken and capsicum skewers and salad)
  • Chicken curry (Use Thai red or green curry paste and Carnation Light and Creamy Evaporated Milk as a base for a chicken curry. Make sure the curry has plenty of veg in it and serve with steamed rice)
  • Healthy fried rice (Cook finely diced capsicum, mushrooms, zucchini and carrot with onion, garlic and ginger. Toss with ham, cooked rice and soy sauce. Top with a chopped plain egg omelette and spring onion)

Stock- Go for reduced salt versions

Chicken, beef or vegetable stock can add an extra dimension of flavour to many dishes.
  • Hoisin chicken with vegetables and egg noodles (Cook thinly sliced veg with dried egg noodles in chicken stock. Meanwhile grill chicken marinated in half a mixture of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, dry sherry and ginger. Drain some of the excess stock and stir through remaining sauce mixture. Serve in a bowl topped with grilled chicken)
  • Slow cooked lamb ragu (Saute onion, garlic, carrot, celery and zucchini. Add browed diced lamb, tomato paste, diced tomatoes and beef stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for 1-2 hours (alternatively, cook in a slow cooker). Serve with green beans and pasta or pearl cous cous)
  • Chicken, mushroom and spinach risotto (Saute onion, mushrooms and diced carrot. Add aborio rice and white wine and stir to coat. Add one ladel of chicken stock at a time, stirring until nearly absorbed. Once rice is cooked, add baby spinach and parmesan and stir though pan-fried chicken pieces)

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