Five adaptable recipes, all from your pantry – The Denver Post

By Melissa Clark, The New York Times

I’ve cooked my way through some pretty rough times. I baked countless batches of brownies for my local firefighters after 9/11, and waited out Hurricane Sandy next to a simmering pot of pork ragù. When my father died a couple of years ago, there were some days I could barely get dressed. But the ritual of making breakfast for my daughter and husband — buttered toast and jammy eggs, extra-crisp bacon and bowls of creamy, steel-cut oats — lured me into the kitchen and soothed me when I got there.

Cooking something good to eat is a comfort that I always feel grateful for, but especially now. And I can see, from social media and the emails I’m getting, that I’m not alone.

Whether seasoned chefs or complete novices, many people are cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner, day after day, perhaps for the first time in their lives. We’ve all stocked our pantries as best we could, and are now trying to figure out what to do with all those beans and cans of tuna.

This month, as the coronavirus expanded its reach, I began contributing pantry-focused recipes to The Times’ live blog. Each dish — some of which are riffs on old favorites — is highly adaptable, and all keep perishables in mind. Yes, some may mention optional fresh ingredients for color and verve, but use them only if you have them on hand. The idea isn’t to send you to the store for a bunch of cilantro, but to empower you to substitute those celery leaves you already have, or to skip the greenery entirely.

The five here are recipes you can build on, taking them apart and putting them back together again to use available ingredients, and to suit yourself and whomever else you might be sheltering with.

The first solves the “what to do with all those beans” conundrum. A big vat can be a hearty meal unto itself, the starting point of so many others, or both. Eat some right after cooking drizzled with good olive oil and sprinkled with flaky sea salt, and save the rest — yes, they freeze well — for turning into chili or soup.

There’s breakfast, too: baked steel-cut oats made creamy and rich with almond butter. Baked oats aren’t faster than the simmered kind. But they are more convenient, since you don’t have to worry about stirring them. And the pot won’t boil over if you get distracted.