What I Make When I Clear Out the Cupboards for a Kitchen Sink Meal

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

After back-to-back weekends out of town and a seriously silly weekday schedule, the only thing left to cook for dinner was well, nothing at all. My cupboards looked like they’d been ransacked by some crazed food burglar. Exhausted by this insufferable, never ending New York winter, the odds of me putting on a coat to walk to the grocery were slim to none. I was determined to make something out of nothing for dinner, one of my favorite challenges that almost always results in a good old fashioned kitchen sink pasta.

At the end of a busy week or vacation, I dream of cooking a big, satisfying meal in my own kitchen. There’s no better way to feel right at home than blasting a great playlist and stirring up something delicious. Lacking the actual ingredients to do this recently, I instead embarked on a super gratifying purge of the kitchen. Leaving the refrigerator door open far longer than my mother might advise, the ingredients that were either downright unidentifiable or flat out questionable were chucked straight into the garbage while anything still useful was lined up for inspection.

Questions I began asking myself: Why are there so many cans of pumpkin puree and yet nothing useful like a can of black beans? When is the last time I actually step foot in a grocery store? Why do I keep buying quinoa like it’s a going out of business sale?

Left with a surprisingly minimal amount of ingredients to work with, my kitchen sink pasta dreams paired down into one of the most simple and delicious meals: pasta dressed with garlic, olive oil, lemon, red pepper flakes, and a shave of parmesan. It was just what the doctor ordered — comforting on a cold night, easy to whip up, and vaguely nostalgic of my college years when I’d often cook up this sort of thing. As an added bonus, that the simple pasta dish was the final result of a big sweep of the cabinets and fridge made it all the more gratifying.

What do you cook when you’re clearing out the cupboards?