Ok, first of all, put down that roll of paper towels.
Yes, I’m talking to YOU.
I see you loading up your 3 carts with toilet paper, paper towels and water.
Now, before you say “but, wait, Lisa, I neeeeed these in case I can’t leave my house for weeks“, hear me out for just a quick sec.
Of COURSE, you need toilet paper, and depending on where you live, you also need water. Although, I haven’t heard the coronavirus affecting the water supply yet, but, I get that you want to be prepped and ready just in case.
Paper towels are one of those things you actually don’t need — dish towels and cloths work just as well. And are sooooo much better for the environment.
BUT, don’t forget you need actual food, too.
Because if you get sick, don’t want to leave the house, are told to work from home or quarantined, you need real, wholesome food.
Sooooo…..don’t forget the pantry essentials (you can download the entire checklist for your pantry, fridge and freezer right HERE).
There are always certain items you should have on hand in order to make easy dinners. And now is the absolute perfect time to take inventory and stock up.
Here are 4 easy pantry dinners you can whip up for a crowd. (because odds are with schools cancelled, and people working from home, you’re probably cooking for a full house these days).
So, yes, you can buy toilet paper OF COURSE.
But don’t forget to add some actual real food to your cart, too.
Carrot and Coconut Soup
Carrots are a super hearty veggie that will last awhile in your fridge, and, when you get tired of roasting them, I highly recommend you try them in this soup.
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 pound carrots, peeled, chopped
- 1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 medium leeks, white and pale-green parts only, 1 chopped, 1 thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon finely grated peeled ginger
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 13.5-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
- Harissa (you can also use Siracha or your favorite hot sauce)
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add carrots, apple, onion, chopped leek, garlic, and ginger. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5–7 minutes. Once the vegetables soften, add broth, coconut milk, and 1 cup water. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are very tender, 20–25 minutes. You’ll know the vegetables are done when you can easily pierce them with a fork. Take the Dutch oven off the heat and with an immersion blender puree the soup. You can also puree the soup, in batches, in a blender.
While the vegetables are cooking, heat remaining oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced leek and cook, stirring often, until crispy and golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain; season generously with salt.
Serve soup topped with Harissa (or Siracha, or your favorite hot sauce) and crispy leeks.
Recipe by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen
Tomato Cheddar Soup
Canned tomatoes are something that should always be in your pantry.
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup onions, roughly chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced (optional)
- 1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, with juice
- 1 1/4 cups of chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian version)
- 1 1/4 cups of water
- 1/2 cup of sour cream
- 8 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- salt and pepper to taste
In a large 3 quart sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and saute until soft. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add tomatoes and their juices, stock, and water. Bring to a simmer then remove from heat. Let cool for 10 minutes.
Add one-half of the sour cream. Whisk until well-blended, then add the remaining sour cream.
Whisk until sour cream is combined.
Stir in pepper and cheese to blend. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
Gently reheat to serve.
Shrimp and Grits
Frozen shrimp can be turned into so many dinners, and this is a definite winner. You can also use mashed potatoes, rice, couscous or pasta instead of grits.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
- 1 1/4 cups ketchup
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons Tabasco
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- For the Grits:
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup old-fashioned grits
- 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the ketchup, bourbon, cider vinegar, molasses, honey, Tabasco, thyme and cayenne. Simmer over low heat, until thickened, about 40 minutes.
Transfer the barbecue sauce to a blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour 1/3 cup of the sauce into a small bowl and reserve the rest.
Preheat a grill pan. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and brush on both sides with the 1/3 cup of barbecue sauce.
Grease the grill pan with the oil. Grill the shrimp over moderate heat, turning once, until cooked through, about 4 minutes.
Transfer to plates and serve with cheese grits and the remaining barbecue sauce.
TIP: The barbecue sauce can be refrigerated for up to a week.
For the Grits: In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the garlic and slowly stir in the grits. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, stirring frequently, until the grits are tender, 20 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the cheese, butter and cream.
Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Recipe from Amber Huffman, Food and Wine magazine
Roasted Red Bell Pepper Pasta
You can easily substitute jarred roasted red bell peppers.
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- Sea salt and ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups milk (you can use whole milk, 2%, or almond milk)
- 1 ½ tablespoons of flour
- Pinch red pepper flake
- 1 package of your favorite pasta (you can use gluten free pasta or spiralized zucchini
- Parmesan cheese
- Finely chopped fresh basil
Heat oven to 500 degrees F and roast red peppers on a baking sheet until charred – about 25-30 minutes. Cover in foil for 10 minutes to steam, then gently peel away the charred skin, seeds and stems. Set aside.
While the red peppers are roasting, bring a large skillet over medium heat and sauté shallots, onion and garlic in 2-3 tablespoons olive oil until golden brown and soft, about 4-5 minutes. Season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper, then remove from heat, and transfer to a blender. Add the roasted peppers, milk, red pepper flakes and flour to the blender.
Blend until creamy and smooth, taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt and pepper or red pepper flakes, as needed. When the taste is to your liking, pour the sauce back into the skillet and simmer it over medium low heat until it thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. If you’re using spiralized zucchini, start preparing it now.
Once sauce is thickened to desired consistency turn heat to low, and add noodles (or zucchini), a drizzle of more olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to coat the noodles (or zucchini).
Serve with Parmesan, red pepper flakse and fresh chopped basil.
Inspired by Minimalist Baker