What do you always have in your pantry. Beans and rice and spices of every denomination are standard in mine, but my answer differs vastly depending on when my last trip out of India was, and where.
My personal benchmark of a well stocked pantry is a situation where I can cook a meal I am happy about without having to step out of the house. Handy in situations when I get into one of these strange moods I was in last night - I don't feel like eating what my cook made out of the last vegetables in the fridge and I don't feel like eating out.
So I made this pasta. Set the macaroni to boil in plenty of salted water. In the meantime, I chopped and pureed two tomatoes in the blender. Before you object, let me assure you that tomatoes are not vegetables in my world - my mom's always told me that they are, like onions and potatoes, a staple. So we stick to pureed tomatoes, and also finely mince two cloves of garlic.
Heat olive oil in a pan, add the garlic and let it brown a little. Now add the tomato puree, a tbsp of white wine vinegar, a generous pinch of herbs de provence and another pinch of salt. Give it a stir, then add a cup of water. Cover and let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes or so.
Your pasta should be done by this time so drain and keep it aside. Also to while away the time while your sauce cooks, finely chop a handful of olives and a couple of sundried tomatoes. When the sauce has reduced to half, add olives, sundried tomatoes and a tbsp of capers. Continue to simmer until the sauce is thick, then add the pasta and mix well. Top with parmesan, or any other hard cheese you like.
I had this pasta with my latest addiction : bread toasted then topped with smoked chipotle sauce and softened cream cheese.