With sports canceled, panic food shopping has become our new national pastime.
In preparing for the coronavirus, people have flooded supermarkets, stocking up on frozen food, pasta and beans to keep them sustained as we wait out this viral storm. But beyond trays of baked ziti and vats of chili, what can you create with your unglamorous stash of nonperishables? We asked chefs to give us their most nourishing, creative dishes using pantry staples and a few fresh ingredients.
Creamy chickpea salad
“Chickpeas are the lobster of canned veggies,” Jason Goldstein, recipe developer at ChopHappy.com, tells The Post. “Not only are they hearty, but so many different things can be created just from one can.” Smash ’em, season ’em and voila: You get a tangy, vegetarian take on tuna salad.
Recipe: In a bowl, smash 2 cans drained, rinsed chickpeas (think: chunky guac). Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Then, in a separate bowl, stir together 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or mayo; 1 teaspoon each of salt, pepper, garlic powder and apple cider vinegar; 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes; the juice from half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons); half a chopped red onion and 1 finely chopped carrot. Stir mixture into chickpea mash and enjoy in a sandwich, on top of a salad or out of the bowl. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Scrappy bread pudding
OK, so you bought eight loaves of bread, and you’re only halfway through the third. That’s OK: Rachel Wyman, the owner and head baker at Montclair Bread Company in Montclair, New Jersey, has a bread-pudding recipe that will turn those carby scraps into a delicious treat. This dessert, which is her grandma’s recipe, does double duty: “It’s also good for breakfast on Day 2,” says Wyman, who prefers hers served warm with whipped cream on top.
Recipe: Heat the oven to 350 and grease a 9-by-13 pan. Cube 6 cups of any bread and combine with 2 chopped apples. (If you don’t have any, 1 cup of chocolate chips, nuts or dried fruit will work.) Place in a pan. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together 6 eggs, 3 cups milk and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 tablespoon cinnamon and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Pour the mixture over the bread and mix-ins. Squish everything together with your hands and let it sit for 10 minutes. Bake for 45 minutes. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Pandemic pasta fagioli
Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli, the husband-and-wife team behind Don Angie in the West Village, call pasta fagioli “the ultimate Italian soul food.” It’s also perfect for lockdown: Rito’s grandma’s recipe utilizes beans, pasta and frozen greens if you can’t find the fresh stuff. “This is versatile when you have limited supplies,” Rito says.
Recipe: In a large pot over medium heat, combine 1 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup bacon (optional). Cook for three minutes. Add seven cloves finely chopped garlic, 1 teaspoon chili flakes, 2 tablespoons kosher salt and 1 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper.
Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until garlic is lightly toasted. Add 1 cup diced white onion and cook until translucent. Add 1 1/2 cups of any green (such as kale) and the zest and juice from 1 lemon and continue cooking until greens wilt.
Toss in 1 1/2 cups rinsed, canned beans of your choosing and 8 cups chicken stock. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower to simmer for 10 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cup of pasta and cook until soft. Stir in a pinch of sugar and 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Serve hot. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
If rice is taking up room in your pantry, Roger Martinez, the executive chef at Il Buco and a Barcelona native, recommends making his house paella. “This is easy, healthy, satisfying and can last for multiple meals.”
Recipe: In a medium pot, bring 5 cups of any stock (water works in a pinch) to a simmer.
In a wide, shallow skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat on another burner. When it starts shimmering, add 1 pound of meat (whatever’s in the freezer) and 2 tablespoons frozen peas and frozen green beans. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add in 1 cup uncooked rice; toss with oil. Stir in 2 cloves chopped garlic, 1/4 cup tomato sauce, 1/2 teaspoon paprika and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Then, add three cups of hot stock from your other burner to your skillet, shaking the pan to loosen clusters of rice. Return stock pot to burner.
Reduce skillet heat to medium-low and simmer until about 80 percent of the liquid is absorbed. Pour 1 cup of stock around the edge of the pan; wait 5 minutes, then repeat. When the that last bit of liquid is absorbed, your paella is ready. Makes 2 servings.
For a gourmet-level dish with pantry staples and fridge basics, America’s favorite Italian grandmother, Lidia Bastianich recommends a baked rice frittata. “This tasty frittata has a pleasing texture — light and luscious like a souffle on the inside, with lots of crust outside,” says the chef. Plus, it’s a good anytime meal.
Recipe: Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease the inside of a skillet with soft butter and coat with 1/4 cups bread crumbs.
In a large saucepan, heat 4 cups milk rapidly, stirring in 2 cups uncooked rice, 2 teaspoons salt and 2 tablespoons butter until mixture starts to boil. Lower heat to a simmer and partially cover the pot for about 8 minutes, until rice has a loose, custardy consistency. Remove pan from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup room-temperature milk.
In a large bowl, lightly whisk 8 eggs. Gradually, pour in the warm rice. Whisk in 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese and two cups of finely chopped scallions (if you have them). Pour mixture into the coated skillet and bake for 1 hour. Let cool for 30 minutes before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Instant noodle hack
If you bargain-shopped and stocked up on ramen noodles, here’s a unique spin on a dorm room staple that’s simple and filling. Delish.com’s breakfast ramen is simple to make, full of protein and flavor.
Boil 2 packs of ramen noodles (without seasoning packets) and save 1/4 of the cooked water. Drain noodles and toss with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat and cook 4 slices of chopped bacon until crispy. Add noodles to skillet; toss until coated with bacon and fat. Turn off heat. In a medium-sized bowl, beat two large eggs, then mix in 1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar. Pour egg-and-cheese mixture into skillet; toss. Serve with scallions, fresh pepper or hot sauce. Makes 2 to 3 servings.