Healthy and Sane

Pantry staples quick pasta dish

January 3rd, 2012 · 18 Comments · favorite recipes, Italian, pasta

Happy New Year!!! I have a very good feeling about 2012. It’s going to be a great one. For all of us. Open-mouthed smile

I know that January is a month of healthier resolutions. We’ve all used the excuse of the holidays to indulge in too many desserts, cheese and wine (You did, right? Don’t leave me here confessing to sins all on my own). The beginning of a new year is a good time to reassess what worked and didn’t the year before, to get a bit of a kick to recommit to old goals or start fresh with a “clean slate.” It’s like the ultimate “Monday.” I dig it.

And while I’m not really into New Year’s resolutions (at least not this year) in recent weeks my fire for healthy cooking and exercise has been reignited. And I’m hoping the newness of the year will keep it up. Even on days when “there is nothing in the fridge,” I keep at it. Last night the digging turned up a crazy delicious pasta dish, created from pantry staples and a few random bits in the fridge. I have an archive of recipes to share with you, but this one wins today. 


Pantry staples (and a few random bits) pasta

Adopted from the Eating Well cookbook, serves 4


  • 8oz dry whole wheat pasta
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 15-oz can of diced tomatoes with chiles
  • Two 15-oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed.
  • 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 2T finely shredded pecorino cheese


  • Boil pasta according to instructions on package
  • Fry bacon and blot on paper towels (reserve bacon grease).
  • Heat 1T of reserved bacon grease on medium heat, add garlic.
  • When garlic is golden brown, add cannellini beans, basil, spinach, diced tomatoes, olives and grape tomatoes and stir.
  • When the spinach has wilted, add cooked pasta, crumbled bacon and pecorino cheese.
  • Taste for seasonings (a little more salt or pepper may be needed) and enjoy.

This was so quick and easy and the flavor blew us away. I love the smokiness of the bacon, the saltiness of the olives and the slight heat from the chiles in the tomatoes (if you just have diced tomatoes and want a bit of heat, add a sprinkle of hot pepper flakes). I’m adding the recipe to my favorites list!

Here is to keeping at it. Always. And eating delicious and healthy meals! Open-mouthed smile

What do you make on nearly bare-fridge days? You can say make a phone call for delivery Winking smile

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18 Comments so far ↓

  • #1 - kitchenbelle

    Looks delicious, Elina! I love your energy for the new year and your description of it as the “Ultimate Monday.” When we don’t have any food in the fridge we almost always resort to beans!

  • #2 - Michelle

    Love this clean out the fridge kind of dish! Happy New Year to you and Adam!

  • #3 - Bridget

    This is the type of recipe I LOVE! Definitely remembering this one! On empty fridge days a lot of times we end up with egg dishes haha…either straigh up breakfast for dinner or maybe an egg buritto. I also try to keep a TJ’s frozen meal on hand.

    • #4 - Elina

      Hehe, I used to keep a TJ’s frozen pizza for such occasions, except I liked it too much and was too lazy/tired to cook too often as a result :) Love the egg idea!

  • #5 - Hogger & Co.

    Add bacon to anything that’s pasta, and I’m a fan.
    Love this!

  • #6 - Ranjani

    Looks yummy! I make similar things when the fridge is running low – usually rice or another grain with canned tomatoes, canned beans, frozen veggies, and cheese/olives/capers if we’ve got them. Or sometimes we do an Asian version – brown rice, cut up nori, sesame seeds, a fried egg, and whatever veggies are around (kale is my favorite) with a little soy sauce and sriracha on top. and some avocado always helps if we’re lucky enough to have it around =)

    • #7 - Elina

      I need to try your Asian version sometimes. Sounds awesome, even on nights with a stocked fridge :)

  • #8 - Emily @ A Cambridge Story

    I not-so-secretly love meals like this. Mine usually are similar and include chicken sausage for an easy dinner!

  • #9 - Megan

    Definitely a great pantry staple dish. I end up making pasta creations pretty often when we don’t have much in the house.

  • #10 - Lauren at Keep It Sweet

    I almost always make pasta with veggies when I am short for time or don’t have any other ideas… not sure why I never think to add a little bacon, though!

  • #12 - shannon

    dang, definitely a delicious dinner pulled together :) i don’t know if i have a go-to when things are low? depends on what I find!

  • #13 - Katie

    My go-to when I’m low on ingredients tend to be breakfast foods – particularly pancakes and french toast….although I admit to making these even when the fridge and cabinets are full – sometimes breakfast for dinner is the best thing after a long day;)

  • #14 - Hillary Gras @ GRAS Pizza

    THat looks awesome! I’m also a go-to pasta girl when the pantry/fridge looks sad. The other night I was craving baked ziti and practically threw my fridge in a casserole (well two… this baby was big) inluding a pound on campanelle, leftover italian cheeses, a bottle of sauce, a leftover bag of frozen spinach, half a jar of ricotta and (I should have used that Morningstar farms frozen meat that I’ve had for.. longer than I’ve lived in my apartment) spicy sausage.

    I’m claiming it healthy because of the spinach.

    • #15 - Elina

      Hehe, sounds fabulous. And I love adding spinach to everything too… such an easy way to boost the veggie content of a dish! 😀

  • #16 - Sophie @ LoveLiveAndLearn

    Mmm that looks delicious, pasta is always the food that I go for if I have very little left in my fridge and pantry (happens a lot more often than I’d like when I’m at uni!).
    Sometimes I just eat a second breakfast though 😛

  • #17 - Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen

    This looks so good! My pantry/leftover meals are never this delicious looking :)

  • #18 - grace

    this is a holy trinity for some–bacon, pasta, and cheese. count me among those and color me delighted. :)