BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Pantry Purge

34 Comments

“Keeping a well stocked pantry” would be a very generous way of describing my penchant for collecting odd ingredients. A certifiable food-shopaholic, any interesting spices, unusual beans, new strains of rice that catch my eye are destined for the cart, no questions asked. Entirely new dishes could be unlocked with that one secret ingredient, and I’ll be damned if I let it slip through my fingers, just because I couldn’t see the final results right then and there. Vegan “skallops“? Sounds crazy, so I’ll take a can! Asafoetida? Translated roughly as “devil’s dug,” that simply sounds too enticing to walk away from. And thus, the pantry shelves at home groan beneath the weight of my bizarre, allegedly edible treasures, a collection of odds and ends that inspire, but fail to make it into the daily rotation.

Come spring, my inner neat freak pops back out of hibernation, and is horrified at the stock pile that’s been accumulating, slowly but steadily, for years. Living in the same home for nearly two decades allows one to hold on to many more possessions of dubious value than you’d think, as I’m now learning. Though the Skallops continue to mystify, horrify, and intrigue me, this latest round of pantry purging still failed to find a proper use for them. Instead, it seemed like a more worthwhile venture to tackle the easy stuff, the pantry staples that have simply overgrown their allotted space. Prepared for either an unannounced party of 30 or the coming apocalypses, whichever comes first, there are plenty of perfectly good foods buried beneath the oddities, and it’s a shame to let them gather dust.

Taking out numerous canned goods and both dried beans and pasta in one dish, my Moroccan-inspired chickpea creation turned out to be the best thing I ate all week. Rather than merely an easy way to “take out the trash,” so to speak, and clear out the pantry, this was a genuinely delicious surprise. Spicy, but more warmly flavored and highly aromatic than merely hot, this is the kind of recipe that a well stocked pantry and spice drawer was made for. A study in contrasting flavors, the salty, briny olives pair beautifully with the gently acidic tomatoes, all blanketed in a thermal blanket of paprika, cumin, and coriander. In such a simple dish, the star players matter immensely, so make sure you have excellent green olives that can pull their weight in this jovial riot of flavors.

Moroccan-Style Olives and Chickpeas

1/4 Cup Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
1 Large Yellow Onion, Diced
1 Tablespoon Finely Minced Ginger
1 Tablespoon Finely Minced Garlic
1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
2 Teaspoons Smoked Paprika
1 Teaspoon Hot Paprika
1/2 Teaspoon Turmeric
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 14-Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes, with Juice
1 Cup Vegetable Stock
1 14-Ounce Can Whole, Pitted Green Olives, Drained and Rinsed
4 Cups Cooked Chickpeas
Salt and Black Pepper, to Taste

Zest of 1 Lemon
2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Parsley

Cooked Israeli Couscous, Regular Couscous, or Another Small Pasta or Grain, to Serve

Heat your oil of choice in a medium or large pot over moderate heat on the stove. Add the chopped onion, and saute gently for about 5 minutes to soften. Toss in the garlic and ginger next, and continue to cook, stirring periodically, until the onion begins to take on a light brown, somewhat caramelized color; around 10 minutes more. Next, incorporate all of the spices, from the coriander through cayenne, and stir well. Keep everything in the pot moving so that the spices don’t burn, and saute for an additional 5 minutes to toast and temper them.

Pour in the entire contents of the can of tomatoes, along with the vegetable stock, green olives, and chickpeas. Give it a good mix to distribute all of the ingredients throughout the stew. Turn down the heat to medium-low, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, to allow the chickpeas to take on all that spicy liquid and for the flavors to further meld. Add in a splash of water or additional stock if the liquid seems to evaporate too quickly.

Add salt and pepper to taste, but be careful with the salt- Olives bring a lot of sodium to the party already, so you shouldn’t need more than a pinch.

Serve over a bed of cooked couscous, and top each serving with a pinch of lemon zest and chopped parsley.

Serves 4 – 6

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah (BitterSweet)

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

34 thoughts on “Pantry Purge

  1. For a pantry purge that looks outstanding. Love it!

  2. As a fellow hoarder I unsurprisingly have all of the ingredients to make this right here in the house!

  3. Pantry purge – I love it! It’s Spring cleaning for foodies.

  4. I have been meaning to purge my pantry for weeks! Thank you for re-inspiring me to do so. I have all the ingredients on hand, even the perfect olives (just bought from an Italian man at our local market, Ooooh, they are the BEST!).
    I had to laugh about the Asafoetida powder, as I have that in my pantry as well. Adding a pinch into deviled eggs and coleslaw adds a whole new dimension to the flavor. It is my “secret” ingredient.

  5. ha ha, YES. I can totally relate. I just purged some giant Lebanese couscous this weekend… but there’s still a long way to go – canned rambutan, canned chestnuts, way too many varieties of mini pasta shapes… sigh!

  6. I have a minor kitchen hoarding problem. I have learned that cleaning out my pantry completely doesn’t work too well though, because I then instantly feel compelled to restock it. My current solution is to force myself to use some ingredient from the stack completely every 2 weeks.

  7. For me, the addiction to stockpiling food is genetic. My mom still does it for just her and my dad. I love that you made a nice meal from the pantry, because sometimes my fridge is not as stocked as the cupboards!

  8. I love to cook this way! I just wrote a list last night of odds and ends in our pantry to plan meals this week. This looks delish. I love being veg because it makes me feel happy and healthy. And I’m all about the happy! Look for twinkles, follow the winks, find your happy. ;)

  9. I also spent this weekend spring cleaning my cupboards, I seem to end up hording different types of flour and various assortment of seeds, so when I was quite proud to have used up a lot of the slightly ageing ones in 3 different loafs! I discovered 4 packets of pearl barley too, which is surprising because I don’t think I’ve ever had a call for that in my kitchen!

    I’m a regular curry eater though, so all those ingredients are right at the front of my cupboards!

  10. I love recipes like this!! I need more of them, as I always try to keep my pantry stocked and so often have to throw out expired items. This is a great way to use things up. It looks delicious! Thanks for sharing!

  11. I’m not sure if my comment went through or not, so please excuse it if this is a duplicate…

    I’m the same way with my pantry staples — I have one cupboard in particular that’s a real problem. I’m afraid to even open it for fear of everything tumbling out, which is what usually happens, lol! This dish is proof that pantry staples can make the best meals though. :)

  12. Some of my favorite meals have come from the pantry (or fridge) clean-out process! Yours looks like a keeper. :) Oftentimes, having a sparse pantry really forces your creativity to flow. It’s a great exercise for anyone, and it definitely helps stretch a budget from time to time also.

  13. Funny, asafoetida is sort of on my to-buy list right now. I think it is Brendan Brazier’s cookbook that has a recipe or two w/ asafoetida as an ingredient.

  14. Hannah this looks fantastic! I too have a penchant for creating a “well stocked” pantry (a.k.a buying every interesting ingredient I come across). Some people have a clothes shopping compulsion…mine compulsion is vegan foodstuffs.

    I bet the left-overs were even better as the spices had a chance to develop. Yum!

  15. I think it would be very wonderful if you could come and make such a dinner of magnificence out of my pantry ingredients. Something that could use up some of my three bottles of tamari and endless stocks of vinegars and nori, perhaps?

    Mmm olives and chickpeas. So gooderest.

  16. My pantry DESPERATELY needs a cleaning as well! And so does my freezer…I have meat still frozen in there from my pre-veg days. Which is well over a year now and will DEFINITELY never be eaten.

    This moroccan dish looks nothing like a clean-out-the-pantry dish to me…it just looks delicious!

  17. We have moved a lot in the last few years and it’s always such a welcome time to clean out the pantry. We are coming up on the time that we would normally move and…we aren’t. It is getting quite crowded!!

  18. I can only wish I had a pantry like yours – looks incredible :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  19. Great pantry dish. Even nice enough to serve guests!

  20. Haha I can definitely relate to being a pantry hoarder. This looks delicious!!

  21. This dish looks absolutely amazing! I love that you can make something so flavorful & beautiful out of pantry odds & ends. I’m all over the bed of cous cous too. Yum!

  22. Glad to know I’m not the only one who has a fetish for the odd and rare food items! Love the description, of the dish, I felt like I was actually tasting it!

  23. This looks absolutely fantastic. I’ve been meaning to make something Moroccan. I love all your recipes though!

    I buy so many dry goods I think I have 4 different brown sugars right now. Agar Agar powder? Yes, of course! I still don’t know what to do with this and have the sneaking suspicion I was supposed to choose the “flakes.” Asafoetida has been on my list for months thanks to the Indian blogs I love so much. Let the spring cleaning commence.

  24. I love your generous use of spices — no delicate teaspoon of this and that! Looks like a deeply flavored and delicious stew. My pantry is filled to the brim with odd lots of “interesting” ingredients. Maybe people who like to cook should hold ingredient swaps in the same way those who like to shop hold clothing exchanges!

    • YES, that is such a great idea! If there was an “unloved ingredient” swap in my area, I would show up with an armload of goodies. It would be an excellent way to start experiment with odd things or try new tastes.

  25. Wow, I have a feeling I would love this. Some of my favorite flavors on that dish. Nothing feels better than using up all the odds and ends in your pantry and refrigerator!

  26. Okay, I may have to make a batch of this for dinner as soon as I can get my hands on some decent olives. Looks amazing!

  27. You are a talented person to come up with a recipe like this one. I’m so happy you decided to share it with the world. :-D

  28. Great idea. I will be using this for my catering clients.

  29. that is one delicious pantry purge.. the paprika.. chickpeas.. olives.. yum!

  30. Just want to let you you this is one of my favorite recipes! It turns out restaurant-quality every time. Thanks for sharing!

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