Home cooking in the time of coronavirus

As most of you know, I live in San Francisco, which is already seeing cases of community spread for COVID-19. My partner is already on mandatory work from home, and this weekend, it felt like a good idea to do some legwork such that we could feed ourselves from our pantry for a few weeks if needed.

(I’ll leave the science to those who are more qualified (and welcome expert opinion here!) but from what I’ve gathered, social distancing is going to be critical for folks who become sick, who are at high-risk or have contact with folks at high risk, and is probably a smart & socially responsible public health move for the rest of us to help “flatten the curve” as we are able.)

After I got back from my Costco run, I saw that @cosetthetable tweeted out a series of roundups Bon Appétit has done on cooking with various pantry staples (canned tomatoes, anchovies, rice) but noted that many of them do in fact require fresh ingredients. That, plus the fact that I know a ton of people who are on mandatory work from home but fairly new to home cooking, made me think it might be worth sharing what I’m personally adding to my pantry/fridge/freezer, and recipes I enjoy that rely on those ingredients.

I’ve divided this into:

  • Recipes that include refrigerated / frozen items that, if you buy them now, they’ll probably still be good in 3-4 weeks (e.g. eggs, lemons, cheese)

  • Recipes that can be made purely with long-term shelf stable items (think canned goods)

  • Baked goods, because everybody needs a treat!

Yes, some of the recipes in category #2 include toppings + added veg that you may not have access to if you’re staying home. If I’ve included the recipe here, it’s because I’ve done it without those things and it’s still good.

Here’s a shopping list if you’re starting from scratch!

Recipes that require pantry-stable ingredients only:

Caramelized shallot and anchovy pasta (Alison Roman / New York Times)

Vegan Coconut & Lentil Stew (Bon Appetit)

Crispy white beans (Epicurious) (Note: great with a fried egg!)

Mujaddara (Budget Bytes)

Oven Fries (Smitten Kitchen)

Red lentil curry (Julia Turshen / Food52)

Easy chickpea curry (Inspired by “7 things to do with a can of chickpeas” in Julia Turshen’s Small Victories)

  • Peel, halve and thinly slice an onion into half-moons

  • Peel & mince 3-5 cloves garlic

  • Heat a few glugs of olive oil over medium heat

  • Add onions, stir occasionally until softened (~7 minutes)

  • Add garlic, 1.5 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp cumin & sautée for about a minute until fragrant

  • Add a drained, rinsed can of chickpeas and give the whole thing a stir

  • Add a can of coconut milk, bring to a boil, and simmer for ~10 minutes until the chickpeas are warmed through.

Easy chickpea soup (Inspired by “7 things to do with a can of chickpeas” in Julia Turshen’s Small Victories)

  • Peel & mince 2 cloves garlic

  • Peel and mince or grate 1″ piece of ginger

  • Heat ~2tbsp olive oil over medium heat

  • Add ginger and garlic and sautee for about a minute until fragrant

  • Add a drained, rinsed can of chickpeas

  • Add 4 cups of broth

  • Simmer for ~10 minutes until chickpeas are warmed through

  • Serve with a dollop of pesto if you like

Recipes that require long-lived fridge/freezer ingredients

Crispy fried eggs (Smitten Kitchen) (Note: serve with toast, or basically anything)

Spicy white bean stew (Alison Roman / The New York Times) (NB: the feta is more critical than the herbs here, IMO.)

Foolproof Pan Pizza (Kenji Lopez-Alt / Serious Eats)

Goat cheese & lemon pasta (Smitten Kitchen)

Frizzled chickpeas and onions with feta and oregano (Alison Roman / NPR)

Crisp smashed potatoes with fried onions (Alison Roman / The New York Times)

Roasted tomato and anchovy bucatini (Alison Roman / Dining In) (Note: I have done this with defrosted cherry tomatoes and it works great.)

Tall, fluffy buttermilk pancakes (Smitten Kitchen)

Easy fried rice (Kenji Lopez-Alt / Serious Eats)

Savory chickpea hash (Inspired by “7 things to do with a can of chickpeas” in Julia Turshen’s Small Victories)

  • Dice up some strongly flavored sausage (about 1 link per person)

  • Peel, halve and thinly slice an onion into half-moons

  • Head up 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat

  • Add sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Set aside.

  • Add onions and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened.

  • Add a drained, rinsed can of chickpeas and another 2tbsp olive oil. Turn up the heat to medium high and cook until chickpeas are starting to get a little brown and crispy. If the pan is getting sticky, add a little water or broth and deglaze it.

  • Add back the sausage and heat through. Serve with a crispy fried egg.

Baking Recipes

Quick and Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies (Bravetart / Serious Eats)

Dairy-free chocolate cake (Bravetart / Serious Eats)

Flourless chocolate cake (Bon Appetit)

Chocolate-date caramel cups (Bon Appetit)

Salted butter and chocolate chunk shortbread (Alison Roman / The New York Times)

Marbled banana bread (Smitten Kitchen) (NB: a great reason to keep bananas in your freezer!)

I’ll keep adding to this list if I think of more recipes. And if you’re new to cooking, might I recommend you buy a copy of Julia Turshen’s Small Victories, which is my absolute favorite starter cookbook?

Please let me know if you make any of this recipes, and if so, what you thought! I can be reached in the comments here and also via twitter, where I’m @AlekaGurel.