Way easier than calculus

Pantry staples are the key to success for a budget-friendly lifestyle

Way easier than calculus

Photograph by Jessica Darmanin; Getty Images

As a student, pantry staples are the key to success for a budget-friendly lifestyle. Stocking up on basics such as olive oil, canned tomatoes and beans will come in handy when the fridge is running low.

Elena Mammoliti
• 500 g bag of penne pasta
• pint of cherry tomatoes
• generous handful of basil
• 1 cup of grated ricotta salata (goat’s cheese can be substituted)
• just less than ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Cook your pasta according to the instructions. Meanwhile, slice your cherry tomatoes in half, grate your cheese (medium) and chop up your basil. Place these ingredients, along with the olive oil, into a big bowl and toss (the cheese and oil will form a creamy sauce). Once you drain the pasta, add it to the bowl. Toss until the sauce coats all the penne. (Optional: add a big handful of baby arugula at the end for a salad plus an entrée all in one bowl.)

• 2 kg fresh mussels
• 1 tbsp vegetable oil
• 1 red onion, sliced
• 2 tbsp curry powder
• 3 large tomatoes, chopped
• 398 ml can light coconut milk
• 1 tsp salt
• ½ cup chopped cilantro
Rinse mussels. If any are open, firmly tap on the counter. If they do not close, discard. Mussels can have a beard, little brown fibres that poke out from the shell. Pull hard on them to remove before cooking. Heat a large pot over medium. When hot, add oil, then onion. Cook, stirring until onion softens, 3 min. Stir in curry powder and cook 1 min. Add tomatoes, coconut milk and salt. Increase heat and bring to a boil, stirring often. Add mussels. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until they open, 7 to 9 min. Discard any mussels that don’t open, then stir in cilantro. Serve mussels in large deep bowls with crusty bread for dipping.

Adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking
• 3 leeks (white parts only, cut length-wise and rinsed)
• 3 potatoes
• 6 cups water
• 1 tbsp salt
• 2 tbsp butter
• fresh chives
Dice potatoes and slice the halved leeks into half-moons. Add these to a pot filled with six cups of water. Add salt. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer until potatoes are soft. Remove from heat and mash up the potatoes and leeks until you reach your desired consistency. Alternatively, mix with a hand blender. Stir in the butter. Garnish with finely chopped chives.

Anna’s House Salad
(from Bonnie Stern’s Friday Night Dinners)
3 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp roasted sesame oil, optional
1/3 cup vegetable oil
12 cups torn Romaine hearts or iceberg lettuce
In a bowl, combine vinegar, garlic, salt, soy sauce, honey and sesame oil, if using. Whisk in oil.  Just before serving, toss lettuce with dressing to taste.

Vegetarian Chili
Serves 4

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 large jalapeno, finely chopped
1 can black beans, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained
2 cans kidney beans, drained
1 can corn niblets, drained
1 – 28oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup water or vegetable stock
1 packet veggie meat
2 tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

Garnishes: dollop of sour cream and tortilla chips


1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and
sauté until almost translucent.
2. Add chopped pepper and jalapeno and sauté until softened, about another
5 minutes.
3. Stir in chili powder, cayenne and garlic.
4. Add veggie meat and break up with the side of wooden spoon.
5. Add tomatoes, water, beans, corn and season with salt and pepper. Bring
to a boil and reduce back down to a simmer.
6. Simmer uncovered until thickened and the flavors have fully melded,
about 30 minutes.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and tortilla chips.

Click to watch: The Hot Plate – Vegetarian Chili episode

Additional recipes and episodes can also be found on The Hot

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