I distinctly remember the first meal I made for my husband. It was great because not only was it from scratch, but it also didn’t require making several ridiculous substitutions. (Celery, it turns out, isn’t a great substitute for ham — I learned that the hard way.) It was a recipe from his family’s online recipe book, and I have no idea what drew me to it, except that it sounded interesting: tomato dumplings. I had no idea what to expect, but I followed the directions and presented my husband with a bed of flavorful diced tomatoes topped with a soft pillow of steamed bread. We were both shocked by how good it was — way better than the packaged pasta dishes we’d been living on in the weeks since we’d been married.
Nearly nine years later, that dish is still a favorite at our house. We always have a couple of cans of diced tomatoes around just in case we need to whip up a meal that’s quick, tasty and healthy.
In fact, many of our favorite go-to dishes start from a can, which is great. Not only does it save me the time of, say, chopping, roasting, and pureeing my own pumpkin, but it also allows me to feed my family delicious, healthful food even in the off season – which I love because even if it is the right season, I don’t have a garden in my little Brooklyn apartment or the resources to can the food myself. I’m ever so grateful that someone else is willing to harvest the food and preserve it for me to use when it is at the peak of its nutrition.
Here are some of our family’s go-to meals from the “cantry.”