3 Easy Pasta Dishes To Make With Almost Nothing In Your Fridge

Take a moment to imagine your average day. You likely worked long hours, ate a below-average sandwich or salad at your desk, and endured a sweaty (and jam-packed!) commute home. By the time dinner rolls around, you're most likely starving. That's when you open your fridge, only to find a hodgepodge of anything but real food.

For many New Yorkers, standing famished in a less-than-stocked kitchen happens with Groundhog Day-level frequency. And, it's usually not until we're gazing at a bunch of barren shelves that we realize we haven't hit the supermarket in weeks. 

That's where Colu Henry comes in, the culinary mastermind behind the #backpocketpasta sensation, and author of a forthcoming book of the same name. Using the most basic of ingredients, she concocted three super-easy dinner recipes for the next time you're facing off with your kitchen's slim pickings — which will inevitably be tonight!
Photographed by Eric Helgas.
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Farfalle With Salami & Peas    
Serves 3-4  

Ingredients
 
3/4 lb farfalle 
3 tbsp olive oil
7 oz hard salami, diced 
1 cup frozen baby peas
1/2 cup pasta water reserved 
1/4 cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese 
1/4 cup minced chives
Salt and ground pepper to taste
Photographed by Eric Helgas.
Instructions
1. In a large pot, boil water for pasta. 

2. When water comes to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt. Once the water returns to a rolling boil, add farfalle. Cook until al dente.

3. While pasta is boiling, add olive oil to a 12-inch saucepan over medium-high heat.  

4. Add diced salami and cook until crisp and starting to brown, stirring occasionally for about 7 minutes. Add peas to pan and cook until heated through, about 1 minute more.

5. Strain pasta, add directly to pan, and toss with the peas and salami. Add pasta water by the tablespoonful as needed.

6. Add grated cheese to pan and cook for 1 minute, until cheese has melted and sauce has thickened.

7. Serve in bowls and garnish with chives.     
Photographed by Eric Helgas.
Spaghetti With Chili Oil, Capers & Lemon
Serves 3-4  

Ingredients

3/4 lb spaghetti
4 tbsp olive oil 
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tbsp chili flakes
3 tbsp capers, rinsed (if in salt)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon (around 2 tbsp juice and 1 tbsp zest)
1 cup pasta water, divided 
1/4 cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese 
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Salt and ground pepper to taste     
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Photographed by Eric Helgas.
Instructions
1. In a large pot, boil water for pasta.

2. When water comes to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt. Once water returns to a rolling boil, add spaghetti. Cook until al dente.

3. While pasta is boiling, add olive oil to a 12-inch saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and chili flakes, and cook together for 3 minutes, being careful to adjust the heat so the garlic does not burn. Your oil should turn a reddish-brown.

4. Add capers, lemon juice and zest, and cook 2 minutes more.

5. Add 1/2 cup pasta water to pan and cook 2 minutes more.

6. Strain pasta and add directly to pan.

7. Add remaining pasta water, grated cheese, and parsley to pan and cook for 1 minute, until the sauce thickens. Toss together to coat pasta with the sauce.

8. Serve in bowls. Garnish with more cheese, salt, pepper, and parsley to taste.
Photographed by Eric Helgas.
Orecchiette With Italian Tuna & Jalapeño  
Serves 3-4

Ingredients
3/4 lb orecchiette 
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 tbsp jalapeño peppers, minced
1 6-oz can Italian tuna packed in oil, drained and flaked 
1/2 cup dry vermouth 
1 cup pasta water, reserved    
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste 
1 lemon (optional)     
Photographed by Eric Helgas.
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Instructions
1. In a large pot, boil water for pasta.

2. When water comes to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt. Return to a rolling boil. Add orichette and cook until al dente.

3. While pasta is boiling, add olive oil to a 12-inch saucepan over medium-high heat.

4. Add jalapeños and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.

5. Add tuna to pan and cook together for 3 minutes.

6. Turn heat to medium-high. Add vermouth and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes more until the liquid has almost evaporated. 

7. Strain pasts and add directly to the pan. Add parsley and toss, cooking for a 1 minute more. Add pasta water as needed to loosen up sauce.

8. Serve in bowls. Add more salt, pepper, and parsley to taste. Top with a squeeze of lemon, if desired.          
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