Easy Entertaining Pantry Staples

June 23, 2015
By: Elizabeth P.

Nobody likes scrambling at the last minute to pull together appetizers or a meal for surprise guests or company. To prepare yourself for all types of last minute gatherings or celebrations, a well-stocked pantry is your best friend. These staples have a long shelf life, and will serve you well in a pinch, whether you’re making a romantic dinner for a date, a celebratory brunch with girlfriends, or just some light bites to set out with cocktails or wine, these staples have you covered!

If you have the extra fresh ingredients suggested, and a minute more time, take these recipes a step further by adding fresh minced herbs, an extra drizzle of good finishing olive or truffle oil, a dash of hot sauce, a sprinkle of good parmesan cheese or a dollop of your favorite cashew cream. Just a little extra effort will really make these recipes shine! And I think it goes without saying, but no stocked pantry would be complete without a good bottle of champagne chilling in your fridge. You never know when you’ll have something wonderful to celebrate!

Pantry Items:

  • Quinoa
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Whole wheat or quinoa pasta
  • Black beans
  • Olive oil
  • Flaked sea salt and good black pepper
  • Hot sauce

Freezer/Fridge Items:

  • Frozen peas
  • Frozen spinach
  • Bread (freeze it and it’ll last forever! Toast in the oven when you need it)
  • Corn tortillas (freeze these and heat to order in your oven)
  • Eggs
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Vegetable liquid bullion (for instant vegetable stock)

Frozen Peas:

  • Make a quick and healthy take on pasta primavera. Toss fresh pasta with frozen peas, frozen spinach, lemon juice & zest, olive oil, and Parmesan for a quick and elegant dinner.
  • For an easy entertaining appetizer, sauté frozen peas with minced garlic and olive oil, smash with a potato masher, and spread on crackers or crostini for a quick appetizer perfect with wine or cocktails. Top with fresh mozzarella and chopped mint to take it a step further.
  • For a quick and super healthy soup, just boil frozen peas for 1-2 minutes in vegetable stock with a garlic clove, then puree until smooth for a healthy and light soup you can enjoy hot or cold. Garnish with chopped basil and a drizzle of olive oil for extra flavor.

Dried Pasta: (substitute your favorite gluten free or whole wheat pasta easily!)

  • For a decadent tasting pasta with caramelized onions, spinach and Parmesan, just heat a pan and add a splash of olive oil, and sauté a thinly sliced onion until caramelized. Add some chopped garlic, and then toss in cooked pasta, and frozen or fresh spinach. Cook until the spinach is warmed through, toss with Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs if desired.
  • Make the classic Italian dish Cacio e Pepe. Just toss cooked pasta with good olive oil, fresh Parmesan, and lots of fresh cracked black pepper. Add some fresh herbs, a pinch of red pepper flakes, or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to up the ante.

Black Beans:

  • Who doesn’t love burritos? Sauté black beans with garlic, onion, and your favorite hot sauce, and fold into a burrito with avocado, salsa, or your favorite toppings. Or make tacos!
  • For a Heat a healthy and satisfying soup , just cook black beans with canned tomatoes, vegetable stock, and your favorite Tex-Mex spices, and puree. Or leave it chunky for a chili-style soup. Take it to the next level with cashew cream, hot sauce, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
  • Make quick and healthy nachos: Top your favorite chips with black beans, shredded cheese, and tomatoes. Warm until toasty and melted, and serve with avocado and salsa. Perfect for late night snacks with friends!


  • Make a quick frittata perfect for brunch entertaining. Sauté onions, garlic, and any leftover cooked veggies you have in a deep oven-safe skillet. Whisk your eggs, pour over the vegetables, and bake in a 400-degree oven until firm and puffed, about 15 minutes. Top with cheese for extra decadence, and broil until melted. Finish with fresh chopped herbs.
  • Scramble eggs with some onions and hot sauce, and make breakfast burritos or tacos. Serve with avocado and salsa, and fresh chopped cilantro to kick it up a notch.
  • Hard boil your eggs, mash the yolks with low fat mayo and Dijon mustard, and fill for some classic deviled eggs. Top with fresh chopped chives to dress it up a bit.


  • Make a grown up version of the classic grilled cheese. Toast your bread in a pan with olive oil, then top with cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, a spoonful of fig jam, and some fresh arugula if you have it. Add some avocado if you like! Make a sandwich, and toast until the cheese is melted. Any combination of these ingredients would be delicious.
  • For a super quick and simple appetizer, toast a few slices of bread, and drizzle with olive oil. Slice into toast points, and serve alongside some ricotta with a drizzle of honey and olive oil stirred in. Garnish with fresh chopped herbs if you like, and let your guests help themselves.

What do you keep in our pantry for a rainy day? Share with me in the comments below.