Pandemics and Pantries

Pandemics and Pantries

Hey, folks. I hope you are all staying healthy and sane amidst these challenging times. Other than wishing health and ease to everyone, all I can do is continue to offer what I have: food options. These are all foods that can be cooked up from pantry items or minimal ingredients for times when you have a smattering or odd assortment of ingredients.  I am including some recipes, some links, some simple explanations when an actual recipe is overkill. Book mark it for easy reference over the next few weeks. Also, maybe go wash your hands. And then again later.



2 cans chickpeas, drained

Juice of ½ lemon

2 tbsps tahini (optional)

1 clove garlic

Tsp kosher salt

⅓-½ cup olive oil


Blend all ingredients in a cuisinart or high speed blender.  Adjust salt and oil level to your liking. Serve with cut vegetables and bread/chips of your choice.

Black-Eyed Peas With Tomatoes and Capers


1 small onion, diced

4 large tomatoes (one 28 oz can if making this off season)

2 cans black eyed peas, drained mostly but not totally

2 tsps dried oregano or 1 tbsp fresh

2 tbsps capers

Olive oil

Scant salt


2 cups of your favorite cooked grain/grain-like food


Heat a skillet over medium and coat lightly with olive oil.  Add the onions and cook until translucent and softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and oregano and cook another 5 minutes. Toss in the black eyed peas and capers and stir in until just heated through.  The dish likely will need very little or no salt, due to the capers, but add salt and pepper to your liking. Serve over your grain of choice.  I prefer whole wheat couscous but this is equally delicious over rice, orzo, farro, riced cauliflower, etc, etc, or scooped onto crusty bread.

Tomato Rice


1 ½ cup rice (see note)

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed

1 14 oz can diced tomatoes

Enough water to make 3 cups total liquid with the liquid from the canned tomatoes

Olive oil




Coat the bottom of a saucepan with oil and cook the garlic over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, being careful to not let it brown.  Drain the liquid from the tomatoes into a 4 cup liquid measure, if you have it, or whatever measuring cup you have. Add water to this liquid to equal 3 cups total.  Add the rice to the pan with the garlic and pour in the tomato water and tomatoes. Cover, bring to a boil and then down to a simmer. Cook for about 45 minutes for brown rice, 20 for white.  Once cooked, remove from heat, salt and pepper to taste and finish with a generous drizzle of olive oil.

Fish Cakes (check the notes for doing full pantry item style)


1.5 lbs cooked fish (see note below)

1 egg

¼ cup chopped scallions or chives (see another note)

⅔ cup bread crumbs

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

Olive oil


Mix all ingredients well.  Form into 4ish inch patties.  If you can take the time, refrigerate these for about 20 minutes as this will help them hold together.  Cover a skillet with a thick layer of olive oil and heat over medium high. Carefully place several cakes (depends on the size of your skillet) in the pan, keeping room to easily flip them.  Cook on one side for about 5 minutes, until it is golden brown and a bit crispy. Repeat on the second side. Serve, if you like, with sriracha mayo (mayo with sriracha mixed in).

Note about fish:  You can use any fish you like, including a mixture.  For example, I have used ½ – 1 lb of freshly baked salmon or cod with a couple of cans of sardine or tuna.  I have also used only canned sardines or only fresh salmon. It all works beautifully – do watcha like!

Note about scallions/chives: If you don’t have or don’t want to buy fresh chives or scallions it is perfectly fine to use any dried herbs or spices that you like, about 2 tsps for herbs, 1 for spices.  Some great choices are dried chives, chervil, tarragon, dill, paprika, Old Bay.

Black Bean Barley Roasted Pepper and Corn Soup


2 cans black beans, drained

1 10-12 oz jar (they vary) roasted red peppers, drained and chopped

1 cup barley

2 cups frozen corn, charred in a pan – optional (hint: Trader Joe’s sells a bag of already roasted)

4 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock

1 small onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar


Grated parmesan for topping


In a soup pot, heat a little oil over medium.  Add the onions and cook for about 3-5 minutes, until they are softened.  Add the garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes. Add in the barley and the stock.  Bring this to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, until the barley is tender.  Add in the beans, peppers, corn salt, and vinegar. Bring this all up to warm and then adjust the salt and vinegar level to your liking.  Serve with parmesan for the top.

Note: If you want more protein in this, a cup or two of chopped chicken or shrimp or sausage are all great additions.

Artichoke Olive Onion Pasta

This one is simple enough that I don’t think you need an actual recipe.  Cook some onions in oil, with garlic, too, if you like. You can simply soften them or take the time to caramelize.  Toss with canned or jarred artichokes, your favorite olive variety, pasta, and oil.  

Curry Lentils

Add one cup of lentils, one can of coconut milk, about a cup and a half of water, and couple of teaspoons of curry powder into a sauce pan.  Cover and bring to a boil,then turn down to a simmer. Cook for 20-30 minutes, until tender. This is the basic recipe but you can add cooking onion, garlic, ginger first and any added spices, or your own mix of things like cumin, coriander, turmeric in place of the curry powder.  You can eat this with rice, added veggies, other proteins.

Canned Tuna Variation

Instead of mayonnaise, mix the tuna with a little dijon, balsamic vinegar, capers.

Roasted Chickpea Snack

Drain and dry well 2 cans of chickpeas (reserve the liquid – see below what to do with it).  Heat oven to 400 and spread the beans onto a baking sheet. Into the oven for 10-15 minutes for further drying.  Remove from the oven then either right on the pan or in a bowl, tosse with a tbsp of oil and a tbsp or two of your favorite spice blend.  I love to use Trader Joe’s Chili Lime or just a bunch or coriander. Bach into the oven for another 20-30ish minutes, until crispy.

Aquafaba Meringue

Aquafaba is the water from a can of beans, or from dried beans that you have cooked yourself. Whip this with a few tbsps of powdered sugar, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a pinch of cream tartar until stiff peaks form.  Use as a dip for graham crackers.

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

3-4 oz sun dried tomatoes, soaked in hot water for 5-10 minutes to soften

¼ cup olive oil

2 tbsps nuts – pine, walnut, almond

Optional: parmesan cheese, garlic, fresh basil, splash of vinegar or lemon

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Add more oil if a looser consistency is preferred.

Hey, Hey, It’s Superfood Sunday!

Hey, Hey, It’s Superfood Sunday!

Hello and Happy Sunday! Glad you are here because I have something to talk about. It’s superfoods. I am guessing you have heard this term – it’s been a bit of a buzz word in recent years. In a nutshell, a superfood is a food that packs a lot of nutrition into its calories. Blueberries, salmon, walnuts, broccoli – superfoods. Brie and ice cream – sorry, no. But here is my point of this post today – if you love brie and ice cream, EAT THE BRIE AND ICE CREAM. Or the mac and cheese. Or the bread, or whatever other food that we think we should not ever have anywhere near us, unless we are using it to deliver 40 lashes to ourselves.

Just Superfood It.

What do I mean by superfood it? I mean have that thing that you enjoy, that brings you pleasure, that makes your tummy and taste buds go YAAAAAAYYY!!!. Just add in some extra nutrition. If you are consuming calories anyway, might as well make them do some good work for you. Let me lay out some examples:

Let’s talk about that brie. One of my favorites, actually. Yes, it is divine slathered thickly onto a baguette, which you could do, but you could also put it onto a seeded dark, sour Scandinavian bread. You can sprinkle it with crushed flax seeds. You could spread the bread with kale pesto. Add the nutrition.

Here’s another one. Do you know how easy it is to make homemade flatbread? It is really easy. So, if you make it at home you can sub some of the white flour for whole wheat. Add psyllium husk for fiber, seeds for omega-3, finely chopped spinach for folate, vitamin A, vitamin K. Delicious. Eat the bread. It’s good for you (unless it isn’t, of course, due to a medical condition – then don’t – it’s not good for you),

Now, let’s get to that ice cream. This is an easy one. Pile on the blueberries, walnuts, ginger. Try some dark chocolate, pomegranate seeds, almonds. Add the good, don’t worry about denying what you love.

I will be talking plenty more about superfooding your life. Check back!

Get The Latest From JuliaCooks

Meal Plans, Recipes & More

Sign up for our mailing list today and get recipes, cooking tips, instructional videos (and the ocassional free meal plan, too!) Come join the fun - your tummy will thank you! And when you join our mailing list, we promise not to send you any spam, we hate that stuff (unless you fry it and serve it with eggs then it is surprisingly good...)

Thanks for subscribing. We think you are awesome!

Pin It on Pinterest