The key to simple, quick and delicious meals is a well-stocked pantry. If you’ve got the basics of a meal already in the cupboard, you can spend less time running up and down the supermarket aisles and more time picking the best of the fresh ingredients on offer.
Many of my favourite cookbooks start with a chapter on what to store in the larder. Mark Bittman advises that “cooking at home becomes exponentially easier, faster, and more spontaneous when you have basic foods at arm’s reach.”
However there’s a fine balance between stocking up on essentials and hoarding little bits in bags. I try to keep my pantry stocked with my most used ingredients, though a jar of exotic spice or a specialist Asian sauce has been known to sneak in.
Nigel Slater has a cramped London kitchen (I empathise) and notes that “cupboard space is at a premium. My store cupboard is lean and restricted to essentials rather than groaning with all manner of ‘things that may just come in useful’.”
Nigel notes that if he had to whittle down his pantry to three ingredients to take on a desert island, he’d choose lemons, olive oil and Parmesan cheese. If he and I wash up on the same island, he’d have my dried pasta, capers and parsley and we’d be able to make a version of this dish (with the tuna we catch from the sea).
Many of the ingredients required for this recipe are already in your pantry, or they should be.