Easy Eats: Pantry Pasta

2:20 pm on 10 July 2024
Pantry pasta by Sam Parish

Dinner's ready in the time takes to cook some pasta with this easy Sam Parish recipe. Photo: Sam Parish

This recipe makes use of simple pantry staples like pasta, canned tomatoes, and anchovies to create a rich, flavourful sauce that's satisfying and easy to prepare. With a hint of spice from chilli flakes and the briny goodness of capers and olives, this is a moreish mid-weeker to keep everyone happy. Add a can of tuna if you need an extra protein hit.

Serves 4 / Prep time: 10 minutes / Cook time: 15 minutes


  • 500g penne pasta
  • 1 brown onion or French eschalot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 ½ Tbsp capers
  • ¼ cup kalamata olives
  • 4-5 anchovies in oil
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (or more if you like it hot)
  • ¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 400g canned diced tomatoes
  • 50g butter, chopped
  • Chopped parsley and shaved pecorino to serve


Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and cook the penne pasta for 3 minutes less than the recommended cooking time.

Meanwhile, place the onion, garlic, capers, olives, anchovies, and chilli flakes on a board and use a large knife to chop them together into a finely chopped mixture.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped mixture and cook for 3 minutes or until the onion has softened. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute to darken slightly, then add the canned tomatoes and stir to combine. Simmer on low heat until the pasta is nearly ready.

Once the pasta is ready, transfer 2 cups of the pasta water to the sauce, then strain the pasta and add it to the sauce along with the butter. Stir for 3 minutes to coat the pasta and reduce the sauce. Season to taste.

Divide between bowls and top with parsley and shaved pecorino to serve.

An image of Christchurch-based food writer and chef Sam Parish. Sam is wearing a brown and white checked jumpsuit and sitting next to a stack of cookbooks.

Photo: Sam Parish

Sam Parish is a Christchurch-based chef, writer and food stylist. Her food philosophy is ‘maximum of flavour, minimum of fuss’ (MOFMOF), which means she’s all about cooking smarter, not harder. She’ll be sharing delicious, fast, family-friendly food ideas every Wednesday (after road-testing them on her own whānau, of course). Sam’s first book, Cook Me is out now.