Sunday Food: Meals From Emergency Supplies

Canned food for emergency.

(Picture courtesy of

Since the numerous natural disasters have made us all conscious of the need to have on hand supplies for a few days of emergency conditions, I picked up a recipe from a friend for something good that can be made from canned food.   This may never have to occupy your planning time, but if it does, I hope you’ll be able to manage.

This recipe is not limited entirely to canned things, of course, and you can throw in your own favorites.  However, if it comes to that, you can do it with charcoal/sterno in a house where electricity has gone off so your refrigeration is caput.

This has the silly name of ‘slut spaghetti’, indicating that it’s a favorite of those who can’t be bothered to do elegant.  I’ll put this in the same category as another friend’s ‘white trash salad’, also made almost entirely of canned stuff.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 anchovy fillets, drained and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced, crushed or grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or 1 to 2 tablespoons jarred or canned jalapeno peppers (preferably red), drained, sliced, and diced, or to taste
  • Salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped drained pitted black olives
  • 2 tablespoons small capers, well rinsed and drained
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish, optional
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water, for the pasta, to a boil over medium heat, though you don’t need to get started on the sauce until the water is pretty well boiling.

Pour the oil into a wide, shallowish frying pan, Dutch oven, or wok, and put it over medium heat.

Add the anchovies and cook for about 3 minutes, pressing and pushing with a wooden spoon, until the anchovies have almost “melted”. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes or jalapenos and cook, stirring, for another minute.

This is probably the stage at which you will want to salt the boiling water and adding the spaghetti to cook, following the package instructions.

Going back to the sauce, add the tomatoes, olives, and capers to the pot with the anchovies and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every now and again, by which time it will have thickened slightly. Taste for seasoning.

Just before the pasta is ready, remove and reserve about an espresso cupful of cooking water.

When the pasta is cooked as desired, drain and add the spaghetti to the tomato sauce, adding a little reserved pasta water, if needed, to help amalgamate the sauce. Scatter with chopped parsley, if there’s some to hand, and serve in slatternly style, preferably with an unfiltered cigarette clamped between crimson-painted lips.

Of course, almost anything can be found in a canned form, so if you have the fresh version on hand or want to throw in something yummy like fresh chard from the garden or fresh onions, go for it!

When your power is out may be a little late to gather up these ingredients, so having things on hand may be something to think about now.   Of course, when all your refrigerator’s contents are going bad might be a perfect time to get together with neighbors who share the crisis and have a block party with everything available.

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