Culinista Kitchen®,  Recipes & Cooking

How to Spruce Up Your Pantry Staples

by The Culinistas

You’ve stocked up on shelf stable items, now it’s time to make them delicious. A lack of inspiration from pasta, nuts & dried fruit, and canned goods is not uncommon. We’ve got some hacks that will take even the most unassuming pantry items to the next level. 

Don’t have all these ingredients on hand? Our co-founder Jill is doing a ten minute Instagram livestream everyday at 2pm EST to answer your questions. Can’t make the livestream? Shoot us an email ( and we will help with substitutions.

Canned Goods

First, let’s talk beans. Adding herbs, spices, and citrus are easy ways to make canned beans delicious. We suggest making an herb oil. Take whatever hard herb you have on hand (rosemary, sage, thyme, and oregano are great) and drop a few sprigs into a pot of EVOO on medium heat; let the herbs infuse into the oil, then remove after 3-4 minutes. Don’t forget to save your fried herbs for garnish! 

Chili is an excellent way to use canned beans, corn, and crushed tomatoes. Check out our chili recipe here – a client favorite. 

Dried Pasta

We have a couple tips to make pasta the most delicious it can be. Start by salting your cooking liquid, this ensures the pasta is seasoned during every step of the process. When the pasta is done cooking (we always leave it a little al dente), reserve some of the pasta water, it’s your secret ingredient for a sauce that comes together and clings to the pasta. Whether it’s a traditional marinara, or a cacio e pepe situation, add your pasta water to the saucepan before incorporating the pasta itself. The sauce will be silkier than ever. 

Dried Fruit

We’re huge fans of dried fruit, both for snacking and cooking. We’ve been making our addictive scallion raisin chutney lately and using it to top salmon, seared chicken, and to mix into rice. The chutney is simple: soak your raisins in warm water for 10 minutes, while they’re soaking, char some scallions on a hot pan until they’re nice and dark. After 10 minutes, drain your raisins, and blend them with the charred scallion, lemon juice, zest, EVOO, and urfa (a Turkish chili, available in our spice set!)


Give rice a nutrient and flavor boost by mixing in pesto (kale and walnut pesto is our favorite!) or cooking it in coconut milk instead of water. Rice can also be a breakfast food. Make a brown rice and oat porridge by simmering the rice with milk and spices, then adding in quick oats towards the end. Garnish with your favorite fruits (dried or fresh) and seeds.

A special thanks to Nadia Agsen for the beautiful photograph.