Shelf Life

Colu Henry Shows off All the Pantry Things She Puts in Her Spaghetti

You know that friend who always seems able to conjure something totally delicious out of the barest of fridges and cabinets? Colu Henry is the superhero version of that person, especially when it comes to pasta. While working as the director of special projects at Bon Appétit, she started documenting her adventures in scraping together stellar noodle dishes outta thin air from over her stoves in Brooklyn and Hudson, New York, with the hashtag #backpocketpasta—and it was such a brilliant concept that she turned it into one of 2017’s hottest cookbooks, Back Pocket Pasta: Inspired Dinners to Cook on the Fly. The one key to your success: having ingredients lurking in your kitchen in the first place. Here’s what Colu always has in hers.


1. Barilla Dried Pasta

“My pantry is still totally full of pasta! I really like Barilla just from an easy supermarket perspective.”


2. Maille Mustard

“I always have Maille mustard around—their dijon and the whole grain for salad dressings.

3. Sauerkraut

“I usually have this stuff called the Daily Fix made locally by Hawthorne Valley Farm—it’s essentially sauerkraut juice that they bottle, and it’s full of probiotics. I also have a ton of sauerkraut—there’s this guy up in Hudson here that makes it called Sauerkraut Seth, and it’s really good.”


4. Preserved Lemon

“I will throw preserved lemon into a pasta at any point—you can sauté it with garlic and oil, or you can add it on top at the end. Or it’s great with a roast chicken or fish. I love making shakshuka—with eggs and tomatoes and peppers—and using some in there. It’s also great in marinades, and even a little bit would work in salad dressing.”

5. Spicy, Funky Condiments

“I always have Red Boat fish sauce, miso, and sambal oelek on hand just so I can give into whatever craving I’m having. I actually make Thai food pretty regularly at home. And that garlic chile paste, sambal oelek—you can put it on top of soups.”


6. San Marzano Tomatoes

“I always have at least two or three cans of San Marzano tomatoes, and now they come in these cool boxes that take up less space.”


7. Panko Breadcrumbs

“Sometimes I’ll make my own breadcrumbs, but I like the flakiness of the panko.”


8. California Olive Ranch Olive Oil

“I don’t use a ton of butter in my cooking, so instead I use mostly olive oil. California Olive Ranch is the best.”


9. Fresh Herbs

“I always have a wide assortment of fresh herbs, and, because I’m crazy, I have everything labeled and dated in quart containers. I interned at my friend’s restaurant last summer as a prep cook and was taught that’s the best way to maintain them for a long period of time and to know when to use them up. I started doing it at home, and it has been really helpful and makes me feel really organized. I always have fresh parsley, chives, and mint—I finish dishes with them. That gives a layer of brightness.”