Tired of making the same recipes again and again? Need some new ideas that don’t require a trip to a specialty market? You may be surprised at what you can do with the ingredients you already have in your pantry. There are plenty of kitchen staples that can be turned into surprisingly inspired meals. Here, four typical pantry ingredients and novel ways to use them.
- Peanut butter
Peanut butter is a part of just about every one of my breakfasts. It’s a good source of protein and nutritious fats, but I keep going for it because it’s just so satisfying. There’s nothing wrong with a classic PB&J, but why limit this versatile ingredient to just that? Experiment with savory recipes like these for a new twist:
- Tofu stir-fry: The combination of rich peanut butter lends itself perfectly to the lighter, delicate tofu. Start with a touch of sesame oil, stir-fry plenty of colorful vegetables (think carrots, purple cabbage, broccoli, red peppers), and mix in the peanut butter near the end just before you turn off the stove. Mmm!
- Turkey burgers with spicy peanut butter sauce: We’re not talking the Elvis burger here (bacon, cheese, and peanut butter? Ouch, my arteries). Top your turkey burger with some thinly sliced bell peppers, cucumber, or onions and a dollop of tasty peanut butter mixed with soy sauce and sriracha for a surprise spin on the usual fixings.
- Canned tomatoes
Even with research saying otherwise, there is the pervasive notion that fresh is always better. In the case of tomatoes, the cooking process allows one of the beneficial nutrients, lycopene, to be better utilized by the body. Instead of the usual pasta sauce or soup base, consider canned tomatoes for these dishes:
- Stewed eggs: One of the great wellness gurus here at Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Roxanne Sukol, recently shared her recipe for Shakshuka, a dish originally from North Africa that can be served for breakfast or dinner. It’s made by poaching eggs in the oven atop tomato sauce cooked with herbs and onions. Topped with parsley, it’s as visually appealing as it is tasty and satisfying.
- Cioppino: This mixed seafood Italian soup became an instant favorite of mine the first time I had it. While the tomatoes and lean seafood are nice and light, red pepper flakes and other spices give it a real heartiness. The base of the soup can be made ahead of time, and with the addition of quick-cooking seafood at the end you have an elegant crowd pleaser in short time.
Straight from the can sardines usually get a love ‘em or hate ‘em response. Nutritionally speaking, these little guys are awesome. Among the span of nutrients they provide, sardines pack omega-3s, lean protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and calcium. Bring out their best with these meals:
- Sardine Caesar Salad: Turn too-often heavy, cheese-loaded Caesar salads into a lighter, gourmet dish. Traditionally made with anchovies, sardines can be used in the dressing or as a topping for a new salad twist.
- Sardine and Caper Pasta: Use sardines, tomatoes, capers, and parsley for an ultra-quick, sophisticated pasta. The sardines can be mixed right in with the tomatoes for a delightful brininess throughout the dish.