Once your pantry is fully stocked, and you’ve settled in to an extended period of staying at home, it’s time to get cooking. While you may not be firing off restaurant-level dishes at home every day, there are plenty of chef-driven recipes that hit at the nexus of delicious and doable. Better yet, many make use of a mix of pantry staples and a few fresh items that should be easy to come by even on socially distanced, once-a-week grocery outings (once people stop panic buying, that is).
But in the black hole of the internet, those actually-doable recipes can be hard to uncover. So we’ve gone ahead and rounded up those that are both interesting and reliable.
Before you get started
- Organize your pantry and refrigerator in a way that allows you to see and grab all ingredients easily. Group things like pastas, grains, canned goods, baking supplies, fresh produce, pickled/fermented things, spices, and oils and vinegars together, so you’re not scrambling to find a bottle or jar that’s floating in space. And make sure everything is visible — you’d be amazed at how easy it is to lose track of a bag of rice or a can of tomatoes, for example, when they’re shoved into the dark recesses of your cabinet.
- Use the “first in, first out” mentality when it comes to fresh items — that means cooking and eating the most perishable goods first. It’s partially because that’s when they taste best, and partially to reduce waste — the goal is to make every meal count.
- Along those same lines, remember that whole “nose to tail” dining trend a few years ago, followed by its produce-centric cousin, “root to leaf”? That use-it-all mentality chefs love to wax poetic about applies in the home kitchen, too. Veggie stems, roots, and leaves can be turned into stocks, sauces, and pickles (here’s a good primer) that are often more flavorful than what you’d get in the store, and have the added benefit of keeping you… away from the store. Odd bits of meat and bone can be saved to add flavor to soups, sauces, and stews, or collected to make a stock that serves as a foundation to countless dishes.
Still, at some point, you will probably have to restock. Be swift and strategic when you go outside to shop; now is not the time to be running around to three different specialty shops in search of some hard-to-find vinegar. Recipes are, at their best, a template; the idea is to use them as a guide, but modify them to suit what you have and what you like. Ingredients can often be substituted (even in baking — here’s a handy guide to common swaps), and part of the pleasure of cooking is in learning to trust your own taste. As New York Times cooking editor Sam Sifton puts it, with a suggested tweak: You don’t [always] need a recipe.
Got all that? Okay, good. Now to the recipes, from acclaimed chefs and tried-and-true resources, grouped according to ways of cooking a meal.
Cut down on dirty dishes with these all-in-one recipes from the pros, all of which lean heavily on pantry ingredients.
A sheet pan (also known as a baking sheet or cookie sheet) is one of the most useful pieces of cooking equipment you can have — to make on-trend, full multicomponent meals, yes, but also to roast big batches of meats or vegetables to keep on hand for mixing and matching into meals.
Sure, this is a nice time to experiment with new recipes. But it’s also a great time to sink into something a little more comfortable — and these recipes are classics for a reason.
When you’re craving something that feels fresh, turn to these restaurant-level recipes that make good use of both pantry staples and all kinds of produce.
Instant Pot Go-Tos
If you’re one of the millions of people who already know and love the Instant Pot, great. Carry on. If you are, like me, one of the people who remains perplexed by the appliance, now is as good a time as any to get to know it.
Baking and Desserts
Have you heard of this thing called bread? It’s pretty cool and you can make it at home. You can also spend a few minutes making extra-thick chocolate chip cookies, or a few hours making extra-gooey chocolate babka — dealer’s choice.