Oh I wish I had a pantry. We have two cupboards of dry goods, plus some more things hanging about on top of the microwave, and a while ago they were both so full as to make opening them a bit of a hairy business. After both of us had nearly sustained an injury from falling wasabi I thought I'd better take it in hand and a) tidy it, and b) start actively trying to use up some of the hundreds of different pasta types I seem to have accumulated. Here is the offending shelf after tidying (note box to minimise falling condiment damage):
So I now have a new aim - to cook one dish a week based on the storecupboard. This week: a squash pasta bake (though actually the pasta I used was one of the microwave-toppers, so I have yet to make a dent in the box!). The reason we've ended up in this woeful state of cupboard-carb-overload is that we don't eat pasta too much, although we both like it. So this should be quite a pleasing challenge, especially as the days start to move gradually and irrevocably towards autumn. There's little that hits the spot better on a cold day than a hearty pasta bake. For this one I roasted a small squash (grown in Hampshire, coincidentally, where The Scientist hails from), and made a simple tomato and herb sauce with some borlotti beans added to it because that's what I had to hand. I cooked the pasta shapes separately, and then combined everything in the dish, sprinkled it with some nice goats cheese, and baked it for about 25 minutes in a hottish oven. Hardly rocket science, but pretty healthy and balanced.
I was very pleased with the results. The squash was meltingly soft, the beans added nice protein and a bit of texture, and the cheese had a lovely mild flavour and a bit of crunch where it had crisped up (don't you think that's always the best bit?). So far so good with the storecupboard challenge. I even persuaded The Scientist to take care of another packet from the box, though I was disappointed that it popped up white. I was hoping for pink!