Remember when spinach salad meant warm bacon dressing and chopped hard-cooked eggs, and we all loved it and felt oh-so-sophisticated when we ordered it at a café? Did you know (I didn't) that spinach salad, an adaptation of a German dish of dandelion greens with a bacon-vinegar dressing, probably originated in Pennsylvania Dutch country, and not in the kitchen of a French chef? These days, when it comes to spinach salad, there are no rules, as this version with bell pepper, olives, feta cheese and pine nuts proves. There are a few secrets to making great salads that draw on ingredients in your pantry, and they all come down to this: be fearless! Combine unlikely ingredients, using whatever's in season. Take a sauce you'd made for pasta, or a chutney, and thin it with some water to make a salad dressing. Don't be afraid of color. If you don't have baby spinach for this salad, pluck a few lettuce leaves from your garden. And if you don't have good feta, try ricotta salata or another salty cheese.
Continue reading "Recipe for spinach salad with bell pepper, olives, feta, and pine nuts" »
All blogging is personal.
When I wrote my first blog post in June 2006, I had no idea how much that sentence would set the course for my writing over the next seven years. A blog doesn't have to be confessional, but it is always about the blogger. After all, that's why you're here, isn't it? To get my take on recipes, pantry ingredients, and healthy cooking.
If you've been reading The Perfect Pantry for a few months, or a few years, or from the very beginning, here are a few things you've learned about me.
Continue reading "Seven things I want to know about you (and The Perfect Pantry celebrates seven years)" »
Do you know?
An onion is an onion is an onion, right? Wrong. To everything there is a season, and that includes onions. I've been making batches of caramelized onions lately, sometimes in the slow cooker, to stir into frittatas and strew on pizzas. Which onions are best for caramelizing: onions planted in the fall and harvested in the spring, or onions planted in spring and harvested in the fall? (Extra credit if you know why.)
Continue reading "The Pantry Quiz #39" »
Everything about the Sriracha hot sauce bottle screams "heat alert!", yet I'm here to tell you that there's more to this complex sauce than pure pepper power. Think garlic, vinegar, and sugar -- and, yes, ripe Thai chile peppers -- and you begin to get an inkling of what's in that squeeze bottle with the bright green top and the rooster on the front.
Continue reading "How to use Sriracha (and five favorite recipes)" »