Calgary cookbook author, CBC radio food columnist, and contributing food editor for the Globe and Mail, Julie Van Rosendaal says her pantry staples include:

  • Canned tomatoes (all kinds) useful for quick pasta sauces, soup, curries, stews, chili. I also keep tubes of tomato paste in the fridge (they last FAR longer than their expiration date suggests!)
  • The 1 litre tetra packs are perfect
  • Canned and dry pulses. They’re the most significant source of plant-based protein, versatile and convenient. They’re also cheap!
  • Grains, they’re shelf-stable and affordable
  • Dry pasta. I always have an assortment of interesting shapes – there’s no reason mac ‘n cheese has to be made with macaroni noodles… just anything small that will grip the sauce
  • Canola is my go-to as it has a high smoke point, neutral flavour, and is useful from chocolate cake to frying fish
  • Flour/sugar/yeast/baking powder/salt. With a stash of flour and leavening agents, you can make biscuits, pancakes, waffles, quick bread, and yeast bread

From her latest book, Dirty Food, Van Rosendaal’s easy pantry staple meal, Toast Crumb and Garlic Spaghetti, is a favourite for adults and kids alike.

Toast Crumb & Garlic Spaghetti


250 g dry spaghetti (about enough for 4)


2-4 slices white bread (or 1-2 cups fresh crumbs)

1-2 garlic cloves, crushed

¼ cup (ish) butter

2 Tbs (ish) (30 mL) olive oil

Pinch red chili flakes

Freshly grated Parmesan


  1. Cook the spaghetti in a big pot of salted water until al dente, and scoop out about a cup of the cooking water before you drain it.
  2. Meanwhile, whiz your bread into rough crumbs, along with the garlic, in a food processor.
  3. Set a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter and oil and when the butter starts to foam, add the garlicky breadcrumbs and chili flakes and cook, stirring, until toasty and golden.
  4. Scoop about half the crumbs out of the pan, add the drained pasta and toss to coat with the remaining crumbs, grating some Parmesan overtop and adding a splash of the starchy pasta water to moisten. Serve topped with the reserved crumbs and extra Parmesan.

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