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The Perfect Pantry's top 10 recipes of 2009

Penne with roasted red pepper pesto

Here in The Perfect Pantry, we're all about the ingredients, but there's no point in having ingredients in your pantry if you're not going to cook with them. That's the rationale behind this blog: get those ingredients out of the cupboard and into your cooking!

So, really, we're all about the recipes, too.

Here are my top ten recipes from 2009 (all with a printer-friendly version). Some I made for the first time this year, others are old favorites. Many are -- or could be, with some ingredient substitutions -- vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free.

They're not listed in any order; as with children, it's impossible to choose one over the others. I hope you enjoy them.

1. One day I realized I had a glut of store-bought roasted red peppers on the pantry shelf, left over from a series of classes on Spanish cooking. That's what inspired penne with roasted red pepper pesto (photo above), and it was the surprise hit of the year. It's quick to prepare, made entirely from pantry staples, including pine nuts from the freezer.

Fennel, pear and olive salad

2. Fennel, pear and olive salad is one of those great winter salads that doesn't leave you wishing for edible tomatoes. Made with the "everyday" red wine vinegar you always have on hand, this salad singlehandedly has turned me into a fennel lover.

Leek, potato and salmon soup

3. Two dishes from my husband's Welsh heritage rolled into one, leek, potato and salmon soup sounded improbable at first, but turned out to be absolutely delicious and a new favorite in our house. Made with dried dill weed from the spice rack and frozen salmon fillets from Trader Joe's, the soup is rich and satisfying and, if you omit the fish, very budget-friendly.

Chicken satay

4. No satay will ever top the ones Ted and Cousin Martin and I practically inhaled at a roadside restaurant in Malaysia (picnic tables, a perfect sky, the Muslim call to prayer in the background), but this chicken satay, marinated in coconut milk and pantry spices, was very good indeed. Cook it on the grill or under the broiler.

Shrimp potstickers

5. The thing about the potstickers you get at Chinese restaurants, even the "vegetable" ones, is that they almost always contain pork. Made with dumpling wrappers from the supermarket, these guaranteed-pork-free shrimp potstickers are easy to make at home, especially with a $1.00 dumpling press, and you can store the formed dumplings (cooked or uncooked) in your freezer.

Salmon tikka

6. My first experiment with chickpea flour, in this salmon tikka, was a great success. The dish would be the perfect centerpiece to an Indian-inspired dinner, and can be made with other types of fish (halibut or cod loin would be delicious).

Pasta with clams and vegetables

7. A recipe I've resurrected after 15 years or more, pasta with clams and vegetable sauce defines a dish made from the pantry. With the addition of just a few fresh vegetables, this dish relies on dried pasta and canned clams; in fact, it just doesn't taste quite right when made with fresh clams. Go figure.

Herbed cheese spread

8. The only appetizer on my top ten list this year, herbed cheese spread is another oldie-but-goodie I hadn't made for many years. I can't imagine why not; it's fast, easy, and a much less expensive alternative to the Boursin you find in the market. Bump up the garlic a bit, if you dare.

Mushroom bhaji

9. Who could have predicted the popularity of this mushroom bhaji, which gives common button mushrooms a starring role? With umami to spare, this vegetarian dish gets its rich flavor from cumin and garlic, two pantry staples, and from slow cooking.

Pear spice cupcakes

10. Though I'm not much of a dessert eater, I do have a weakness for the aroma of fruit baking with cinnamon. These pear spice cupcakes embody everything I love about autumn in my part of the world, and I (and you!) can make them any time, with powdered buttermilk from the pantry.

What were your favorite recipes in 2009? Did you create something new? Did you find a recipe you loved in a magazine, cookbook, or on a food blog?

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Ooh, those mushrooms look good! Nice list!

I'd love to have these recipes ready and waiting for me for the next week. They all sound so yummy, and I'm soooooo tired of cooking after the holidays! Thanks for sharing them all.

Great list... One of my goals for the next year is to have more pantry recipes so I can throw together a great meal in a flash instead of lamenting that there is no food in the house and ordering take out. These appear to be great starts and I am anxious to try a few out. Thanks for sharing.

Well, if we're voting, I give a thumbs up to #1 and #2 because I'm getting hungry just looking at the pictures again. As for my own cooking and baking - I became a fan of Strawberry Ice Cream Cake, and probably my favorite soup recipe is from Everyday Food - a simple Carrot Soup seasoned with curry.

Great list! I'm hungry for chicken satay now.

They all look delicious but I am going to start my grilling season with the Chicken Satay (sometime in April if we are really lucky!)

Nice list you have.. Chicken satay looks perfect..

Hi Lydia...

Not only 10 yummy-sounding recipes, but also 10 delicious photos!

Wishing you a healthy, happy and peaceful 2010...

best, Stephen

Those in the Pantry household have eaten VERY well in 2009. Cabn't wait to see what 2010 has in store.

For whatever reason, the two that caught my eye immediately were the salmon dishes. Maybe it's an omen that I need some omega in my diet.

Whatever you do is delicious. It must have been difficult to single out 10!

out of the 10 I managed to only make one, number 9: mushroom bhaji

It was beyond great and has been made several times since you first posted the recipe.

Not that anyone is asking but my 2 favourite recipes of all from PP: jambalaya and the curry pasta recipes.

Lydia, a colourful and taste-wise, varietal top 10 of dishes.

May 2010 bring you many, many more delicious dishes!

Those all look so tasty and wonderful. YUM! I am such a big fan of chicken satay too ... ever since I tried it years ago at a bridal shower.

Holy delicious!! I am definitely going to have to try some of these babies! Especially that penne recipe!

ok I am printing the mushroom bhaji! oh yes.

Delicious, what great recipes! And some really pretty dishes too.
I have bookmarked the shrimp potstickers, I have some wrappers in the fridge.
Hey, maybe for New Year's!

Mmm, the potato and salmon soup gets my vote.

Everyone: thanks for your good wishes for the new year, and for "voting" for your favorites from this list.

Dawn, one of the things about living as far from town as I do is that there's not much takeout, so the pantry has become more important to me.

TW, curried carrot soup sounds delicious. I'll have to try that.

Stephen, thanks; I keep trying to improve my photography. I'm still learning.

Joan, the salmon tikka would be in my top 5, if I had to whittle down this list.

Natashya, the potstickers would be perfect for New Years!

my find of 2009 was coconut flour (and brown rice flour). Trying to incorporate more gluten free products into my life (and my son's life, as he was recently diagnosed w/ a high functioning form of Autism, Asperger's Syndrome), I have been doing GF baking.

The recipe on the back of the Bob's Red Mill Coconut Flour for the pancakes is a hit!
The pancakes melt in your mouth and are truly delicious. The coconut flour lends just the sweetest flavor and tenderness.

I have also used the coconut flour and brown rice flour combo to make sugar cookies which not only were delicious, but had a great shelf life.

Good stuff. I would highly recommend the coconut flour even for non GF baking. You can sub out up to 20% regular flour for the coconut flour.

everything looks so delicious!! :)

Nice wrap up to a great year. Have a wonderful 2010 and keep us supplied with great food ideas, OK?
best from MaeFood.blogspot.com

Oh thanks for reminding me about the muffins!! Happy New Year.

Sharon, thanks for the suggestion. I have never tried coconut flour or brown rice flour, but I'd like to learn more about GF baking.

BNDQ8, Mae, EB: Thanks, and happy new year to all!

They all look good, but especially the Leek and Salmon chowder, the Salmon Tikka, and of course the Mushroom Bhaji!

Wonderful list, Lydia -- lots to try, but first the salmon, leek and potato soup. All the best in the teens!

.., this is indeed a good thing to have.. very interesting... they all look good...

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