Under normal circumstances, the arrival of pseudo springtime has us running to the grocery store in search of fresh, seasonal produce to liven up our boring meal prep rut. These days, while we embrace social distancing as the new normal, we’re forced to get creative in the kitchen and importantly, in the pantry.  

Our dear friend and cookbook author Lucinda Scala Quinn from Madhungry coined the phrases “Pantry Dive” and “Crisper Crash” many years ago, from her kitchen high above the streets of New York City, where she feeds her three sons and hubby from the pantry and veggie crisper drawer often. As you can imagine, grocery shopping as a hip NYC urbanite isn’t without its challenges (ever load the back of cab with $200 in groceries?) BRB, calling Lucinda for advice right now. 

Now is the time to seize the staples, get friendly with dry grains, become one with canned goods and get comfortable with substitutions. We’re not going to have everything we need all the time, but together we’ll work around the have-nots and make equally delicious dishes with alternate ingredients.  

So, in honor of the lessons Lucinda has bestowed upon us, we’re diving into the pantry for some easy, delicious dinners to feed your fam when the grocery store just isn’t an option. Have no fear, substitutions are par for the cooking course – you can do this!  

Lemon Mascarpone Pasta

Lemon Mascarpone Pasta

A rich assembly of flavors combine to create this decadent pasta dish.  Feel free to use any short or long pasta in your pantry. If you don’t have pea shoots, swap in any leafy greens that you do have like kale, spinach, bok choy, or even broccoli.   

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Spring Farro Salad

Spring Farro Salad

A fresh take on a traditional grain salad, this farro salad is a celebration of springtime. Don’t have farro?  Swap in quinoa, barley, couscous, or even a short grain pasta. Don’t have beets? Roast any root vegetables you have like carrots, radishes, or sweet potatoes 

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Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole

This classic favorite gets an update with a flavorful crème fraîche sauce before being topped with a sprinkle of breadcrumbs, toasted almonds and fresh goat cheese. Looking for some comfort food, but you’re out of green beans?  Swap in cauliflower, broccoli, even sweet potato would be good here. Feel free to replace the almonds with any nut that you have in the pantry. 

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Herbed Pasta with Morel Mushrooms

Herbed Pasta with Morel Mushrooms

This pasta is packed with bright lemon, lots of freshly chopped herbs and topped with a sprinkle of fresh goat cheese and red pepper flakes. You can use any pasta, short or long. It’s easy to swap in any fresh or dried mushroom, or a variety of vegetables like broccoli, kale, or cauliflower to help balance out the stress eating. 

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Harvest Farro Salad

Harvest Farro Salad

This salad combines farro, an ancient grain packed with protein, with fresh goat cheese and sweet cranberries tossed in a light lemon and olive oil dressing. Don’t have farro?  Swap in quinoa, barley, or even couscous. You can also swap out the dried cranberries for dried cherries or apricots.  You may want to chop the dried fruit slightly if it’s large like a whole dried apricot. 

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Southwestern Grain Bowl

Southwestern Grain Bowl

This grain bowl is a favorite of ours and reheats well for lunches. It's simple to make and packed with flavor and protein. Plus, it's topped with Crème Fraîche Ranch Dressing. You're welcome! Don’t have farro?  Swap in quinoa, barley, or even cous cous or a short pasta. You can also replace the chicken with roasted tofu, or any other protein of your choice. Swap the black beans for any pantry legume you have like lentils, chickpeas, or pinto beans. Top with any prepped vegetables that you have in the fridge.  

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Tomato Galette

Tomato Galette

Here’s the beauty of a galette, if you have flour and butter. You can make a savory galette for dinner that feels sort of decadent but comes together easily with a few odds and ends from the bottom of your vegetable drawer.  Top your galette dough with almost any vegetable that you have in your house add a sprinkle of goat cheese or a dollop of crème fraiche or mascarpone and you’ve got dinner.  

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Gnocchi with Sausage and Kale

Gnocchi with Sausage and Kale

Make this quick and delicious recipe with Severino herbed goat cheese gnocchi with sausage and kale in a creamy tomato sauce by Carey Nershi. If you don’t have delicious homemade gnocchi, swap in any short or long pasta. Substitute the sausage for any protein, like ground pork, chicken breasts, roasted tofu, or even cooked lentils. If you don’t have kale, use any leafy greens available like spinach, chard, or bok choy.  You could even substitute with broccoli or broccoli rabe.   

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