I’ve always had an interest in what people really eat and cook. Not what they say they eat, not what they blog but what they actually eat. The food media that gives me the most satisfaction is that which starts with this very obvious question- what do people eat? It’s why I adore shows like Food Safari and blogs like Smitten Kitchen and The Stone Soup, and also why one of my favourite people to follow on twitter is Pantry sniffer, who tweets entire recipes in 140 characters.

When I started Corridor Kitchen, I stressed that my photos wouldn’t be up to scratch, as my camera is a pretty basic point-and-shoot that doesn’t tend to focus properly. As a result I took hundreds of pictures of each dish. This, along with needing to photograph food in daylight hours meant I had to cook specifically to blog. In other words, I wasn’t blogging my actual daily eats, or even my once-a-week eats.

I’ve recently realised that this runs contrary to the whole ethos of Corridor Kitchen of common sense, cheap and practical food. Since I started blogging, my everyday cooking has become decidedly less creative, and I find our house filled with more baked goods than I’d care not to eat. I want to believe that the creative side of cooking, that intuitive what’s-in-the-fridge/pantry-and-what-can-I-make-from-it approach my mother taught me is blogworthy.

This dish is one I’ve made a lot lately, and something I’ve only ever cooked for myself. It’s made with things I always have on hand and is very flexible . I take my new-old favourite, spaghetti and coat it in a garlicky, lemony sauce with chunks of tuna, zucchini and spinach, sprinkling it with romano and freshly cracked black pepper. The building blocks are pasta, tuna or chicken, garlic, wine dregs, butter and oil, and a hard cheese with any green veggie you like.I always have frozen spinach on hand so I used that, and I had a zucchini this time around but I’ve used green beans, cabbage and even buk choy in the past.

Lau’s Pantry Pasta

(serves 2)
Enough spaghetti for 2 people

A generous dollop of butter
A good slosh of olive oil
1 very small onion, diced
Pinch salt
6 cloves garlic (so about twice as much garlic as onion), finely chopped
Pinch chilli flakes

The zest of half a lemon
1 individual 95g tin of tuna – I used a lemon pepper flavoured one but you can use any kind.
1/2 cup white wine dregs
1 zucchini, grated
80g frozen spinach, defrosted (microwave 1 minute on high)

The juice of half a lemon
Romano and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Put the pasta on to boil as per the packet instructions. I turn the stove up full blast, boil a jug, pour the water into the pan and once it boils, and add salt. When it comes to the boil again, I snap the spaghetti in half and cook for 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the butter and oil in a medium frypan. Add the onion and stir. Once translucent, add the garlic, chilli flakes, salt and lemon zest.

Once this is cooked, add the tuna, a ladleful of the boiling pasta water, the wine and the spinach. Cook a few minutes. Add the zucchini and cook a couple of minutes until soft.

Once cooked, add the drained pasta and some pepper and salt. Stir through while still on the heat. Serve with plenty of romano and freshly cracked black pepper.

What’s your favourite home alone dish?

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13 Responses to Pantry Pasta and what people really eat

  1. Now this is something I’d happily chomp into after work when I get home. And for lunch the next day
    john@heneedsfood recently posted…Tiki Fridays at Zeta Bar – CBD

    • Lau says:

      It is an easy-peasy dish. It combines my two favourite things- pasta and chucking whatever I have on hand into a pan.

      I actually found it really difficult to write down the recipe, as I often don’t think about what I’m doing as I cook and so can’t remember how much of something I used. But I think that’s kind of how week night cooking is.

  2. Kat says:

    I like pasta with random pantry stuff too.

    My other ultimate lazy dish is cous cous with tinned fish, tomato and salad leaves or carrot if I have them.

    I used to do it with pasta or rice, but since I’ve discovered the glory of cous cous, which is ready in 5 MINUTES!, I normally just use that.

  3. Gaby says:

    That’s the kind of dish that shows that you really can cook. And that you’re smart enough to use up everything that’s in your fridge and pantry instead of letting them go stale. As much as I love pasta I try not to eat it too often, for me pantry dishes come more often in the form of substantial salads.
    Gaby recently posted…Australia &amp NZ 2011 23 March

    • Lau says:

      I would love to see one of your salads, I know you eat crazy healthy and I’m betting you have some great tips.

  4. Hehe it’s funny because there are so many recipes that I didn’t dare post because I didn’t think they would be interesting enough but Mr NQN convinced me otherwise. Still I do love doing slightly over the top things but of course don’t eat those on an every day basis!
    Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella recently posted…How to Cook Crab! Chilli Crab Cooking Class- Sydney Seafood School- Pyrmont

    • Lau says:

      I will admit that I love having an excuse to make something totally decadent, and this blog is it. I’m much more of a simple food kinds of gal, although I appreciate an unusual twist. I loved that vegemite pasta you made, for example.

  5. Manu says:

    Great idea! I love easy and fast everyday recipes! I am always looking for more! :-)
    Manu recently posted…Comment on CRUMBED PORK INVOLTINI PALERMO STYLE – INVOLTINI DI MAIALE ALLA PALERMITANA by Manu

    • Lau says:

      So am I. P.S. I made your Milanese Risotto the other day- heaven! I used turmeric which is what I grew up with (we were too poor for saffron). It reminded me of my childhood.

  6. Chris says:

    Even though we live so close to Coles, I often find myself assembling a pasta dish out of all the leftover scraps. Prosciutto is also a nice alternative to tuna or chicken.

    I’d love to see what else you usually cook during the week.. it’s always cool trying out some of the more time-consuming or tricky recipes, but I wish I had more staple recipes to turn to during the week.

    • Lau says:

      I love prosciutto and all its variants.

      I agree its tough to come up with fast recipes to make on weekdays. When I was vego I found it harder- so much more chopping! I’m finding meals like stews, burgers and salads are my staples these days. I’ll have to post some of them.

  7. Sher says:

    Love this!
    My goal this year is to be much more food savy! I spend way too much $$ on eating out etc! Making an actual effort to keep the pantry stocked + not waste food!
    Thanks Lau :) x

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