We’re all fast becoming pantry ninjas, experts at whipping up something delicious from what we happen to have stocked in our cabinets. That said, there is always room for inspiration. The PA Wine Land Post is happy to share some of our favorite pantry meals.
And, before you ask: Yes, your wine rack definitely counts as a pantry. It’s a place where tasty shelf-stable essentials live until you’re ready for them. Pair these dishes with Pennsylvania wines for the ultimate stay-at-home shindig.
Pasta Puttanesca paired with Pennsylvania Cabernet Franc
This Italian classic is a dump-and-stir delight. Olives, capers, anchovies, and red pepper flakes add briney punch to canned tomatoes. With its high acidity and deep umami notes, this dish is destined to be enjoyed alongside a glass of wine. We suggest Cabernet Franc, a bold red with earthy notes of tobacco and green pepper that will provide a ballast for the intense sauce.
Salmon Cakes paired with Pennsylvania Chardonnay
Canned fish is underrated. Think beyond tuna and stock your pantry with other salty delights — sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon — to add heft to your meal. For this dish, bind canned salmon with eggs, breadcrumbs, and mayo. The rest of the flavor profile is up to you: dill and mustard, or sesame seeds, ginger, and soy, or lemon zest and hot peppers. Form into cakes and sear them in a pan until brown and crispy. Serve with a side of fluffy rice. Pair this dish with a seafood-friendly white such as a crisp, dry, unoaked Pennsylvania Chardonnay. No matter what seasoning you use on your salmon cakes, the lemon zest and green apple notes will underline the flavors.
Mushroom Barley Soup paired with Pennsylvania Chambourcin
Dried mushrooms are magic for boosting flavor in stocks, sauces, and soups. This soup is a classic. It can be as simple as dried mushrooms, stock, barley, salt and pepper, or as complicated as throwing all the vegetable and herb odds-and-ends from your fridge into a pot along with mushrooms and barley. Either way, the dominant pleasure is deep earthiness. Balance that loamy charm with a bottle of Chambourcin — the dry red wines made from this hybrid grape are fruity, high in acid, and herbaceous.
Spam Musubi paired with Pennsylvania Pink Catawba
Spam has become something of a punchline for many people, but in certain parts of America, the love affair with this canned pork product endures. The iconic Hawaiian snack food spam musubi is sure to turn any skeptic into a believer. Sear slabs of the meaty loaf in a pan with soy sauce and brown sugar, then bind them to a ball of sticky sushi rice with a salty sheet of nori (the seaweed used in sushi rolls). The resulting dance of salty, sweet, and savoury is irresistible — and it all came out of the pantry. Pair this indulgent snack with a zippy and sweet Pink Catawba. Its bright, smooth finish will prepare you for the next bite. If you’re feeling extra fancy, choose a sparkling version.
Vegetarian Chili paired with Pennsylvania Lemberger
The key to a killer veggie chili is using flavor boosters to elevate the canned beans. Some of our favorite additions include miso, chipotles in adobo, masa, unsweetened chocolate, and soy sauce (the dish won’t taste Japanese, just deeply savory). If you aren’t feeding actual vegetarians, fish sauce and anchovies are also welcome. Reach for a full-bodied Lemberger — the wine’s aromas of blackberries, chocolate, and spice will complement the bold chili.
Sesame Noodles paired with Pennsylvania Riesling
Pasta is THE pantry staple. Mix up your offerings with an Asian twist. Throw together a dressing of peanut butter (or tehina), soy sauce, sugar, vinegar (rice or black), and sesame oil. Then, if you like, raid the fridge or freezer for vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, red pepper, scallions, or kale. Cook up some spaghetti or ramen noodles and toss everything together in a bowl. Make enough to last for a few days since these taste even better cold. Choose a white wine with lots of acidity and a bit of residual sweetness to underline the balance of the dressing. Riesling is an excellent choice.
Chickpea Curry paired with Pennsylvania Vignoles
Perhaps, like the rest of Instagram, you fell for Alison Roman’s #TheStew back in winter 2018/19. The rich blend of coconut milk, chickpeas, turmeric, and greens is a tasty venue for all those ingredients, but we hope it was just the beginning of your chickpea curry journey. Raid the spice cabinet and take this canned staple in any direction you like — throw in Thai curry paste, a handful of masala, or your favorite curry powder. Serve with basmati rice or quick flatbreads (flour, water, salt). When it comes to wine, choose something bold and aromatic. Vignoles is an exciting white hybrid with flavors of pineapple and orange blossom to cut the spice.