Pasta is a pantry staple in my home. I live in a rural area that is about 20 minutes from the nearest supermarket, so we thrive on shelf-stable foods such as pasta, canned sauces, soups, and other pantry fillers. So when our food supply starts getting a little sparse, we often experiment with a variety of on-the-fly pasta sauce recipes to keep us well-fed until we get back out to the grocery store. Here are some of my family’s favorite pasta sauce concoctions.
Pasta a la Cream of Mushroom Soup
One day when I was out of tomato sauce for my freshly cooked pasta, I scrambled through my cupboard looking for some kind of replacement. I had salt, soy sauce, guacamole mix, a few cans of corn, some fried onions, and a couple of cans of cream of mushroom soup. Nothing in that wild mix of pantry foods seemed remotely useful as a pasta sauce, save for the cream of mushroom soup.
What you need:
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
¼ cup of milk
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Garlic powder to taste
Just add everything in a saucepan and cook on medium heat until thoroughly warm. Add the sauce to the cooked pasta and stir, or serve the sauce over the plain pasta and enjoy! You can spruce it up if you have vegetables such as broccoli or cut green beans (fresh preferably). My family loves it. They had no idea it was just soup, really.
Fake Alfredo Sauce
When I was a kid, my mom would make something she called “creamed vegetables,” with cauliflower, peas, and carrots. I loved it. I thought she was a culinary genius until I learned how easy the sauce was to make. It’s just milk, flour, butter, salt and pepper. I used this sauce with pasta and vegetables, but I warn you, this saucy pasta dish is not something to eat very often in terms of health.
What you need:
1 cup of milk
¼ cup of flour
¼ cup of butter
2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese (optional)
Melt the butter in a saucepan using a low heat. Add the flour to the melted butter and stir until well-blended. Slowly add the milk while continuing to stir so that it doesn’t get lumpy. At first, the sauce will seem a little thin, but as it continues to heat, it will thicken. Add the salt, pepper and parmesan cheese then mix the sauce into your pasta.
Easy Clam Sauce
My local dollar-only store sells 6.5 ounce cans of clams for just a buck. My mother used to make linguini with clam sauce often, and I have always really loved it, so I keep some canned clams in my cupboard as another pantry staple. Since that store also sells jars of minced garlic, I’ve found a good way to make one of my favorite pasta sauces fairly inexpensively. It’s also super easy to make.
What you need:
2 cans of chopped clams
2 tablespoons of minced garlic (more or less, but I love garlic)
½ cup of olive oil (although from experience, generic butter will work too)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a saucepan set to medium heat, add the minced garlic and cook it until it gets a little golden in color. Add the clams and about a quarter of the water that was in the cans with them. Stir it up, add the olive oil and spices, and heat until you’re ready to pour it on your pasta. I’ll tell you that I’m not even this technical when I make it. Sometimes I just add it all together, cook the sauce until it’s nice and heated, then pour the clam sauce right onto my pasta.