Stock Your Pantry to Be Ready for Back Pocket Pasta on Any Night
Colu Henry’s Back Pocket Pasta is one of those cookbooks that is scarily true to how we really cook at home. We make these hodge-podge pastas and eat them on our couch, the couch we said we’d never spill food on. Colu knows. And her recipes will make you a better couch pasta chef all the same, with recipes that range from unexpectedly easy to wow-that’s-a-lot-of-cheese. Both are great qualities to have in a cookbook. Below is her list of pantry items that are essential for excellence in back pocket pasta artistry. —Alex Beggs
Stocking Your Back Pocket Pasta Pantry
The true beauty of back pocket pasta is that it prevents that last-minute dash to the supermarket on the way home from work. But any improvised cooking is only as good as a cook’s pantry. So for the most versatility, stock up on flavorful essentials that have some shelf life, then fill in the gaps with fresh produce and herbs. You may not want to go out and buy all of these ingredients at once. Start with the basics that you’re familiar with (olive oil, garlic, Pecorino Romano, lemons), then slowly add an ingredient or two (capers, nuts, anchovy paste) to keep you interested and inspired.
In the Pantry
Olive Oil: When I can get to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, I stock up on unfiltered, grassy Sicilian olive oil, which I pick up at Teitel Brothers. But California Olive Ranch and Lucini are frequently found stoveside in my kitchen. I cook with extra-virgin, which is the highest quality (recommended when cooking with so few ingredients). It should taste fruity, spicy, and a little bitter in flavor.
Garlic: I keep two to three heads around, just in case. They make an appearance in most of my recipes. Sometimes you want garlic bread, too!
Capers: Briny and pungent, capers add great flavor to any dish. I buy mine packed in salt. Make sure to rinse them well (let them hang out in a bowl of water, sometimes changing the water once) before using to ensure you don’t end up with a salt bomb.
Nuts: I’m never without a large variety, including almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts. They offer great crunch and healthy fats and make a good addition to most pastas. They’re versatile, too, equally good raw or toasted and tossed in salads.
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