At the end of every year, when I compile my list of The Perfect Pantry's top recipes, I set some criteria for my choices. This year, I measured each recipe against just one factor: did we lick the plate clean?
Each of these eleven recipes passed the clean-plate test, and left us wanting seconds.
Kung pao chicken, a restaurant favorite, makes use of my well-stocked Asian pantry. You can kung pao anything -- shrimp, beef, tofu -- using the same seasonings and technique. My cooking assistant, Kathy, who doesn't love spicy food, couldn't get enough of this.
Throughout the summer and Fall, I made this broccoli slaw salad with cranberries, almonds and yogurt dressing at least once a week, for my husband Ted and me, and for every potluck and picnic. It's the perfect companion to grilled chicken or turkey.
Spicy and salty, this miso-Sriracha glazed salmon tickled every one of our taste buds. I made four portions, and Ted and I ate them all. It's that good.
Last summer Chelsea, my intern, and I fell in love with this spicy tuna and avocado ceviche with a bit of Sriracha. I'm so glad my local fishmonger sells sushi-grade tuna year-round, because I've made it many times since.
Susan, a long-time reader, sent me the recipe for the chickpea, quinoa and spinach salad with preserved lemon vinaigrette that became an instant favorite, making good use of the jar of preserved lemons I always have in my refrigerator.
I could make a meal of rice and beans, especially the Cuban-style moros y cristianos. With a jar of sofrito from the supermarket, and pre-cooked rice and beans, this quick and easy black beans and rice comes together in minutes.
It's not often that I toss over a lifelong favorite for a new love, but this lemon-dill egg salad won my heart the first time I tasted it. Lemon: who'd have thunk it?
Though I no longer eat much beef, I couldn't resist trying my own Northern version of green chile cheeseburgers this summer. Chelsea and I made them slider size, with a spicy slather and cheese inside and out. Simply irresistible.
Just before Thanksgiving, Kathy and I decided to try roasting carrots the same way we roast potatoes. Not a huge fan of cooked carrots, I gave these oven roasted carrots two thumbs up for their sweet insides and just enough crunch on the outside.
I don't often call a dish "the world's best", so you know that the world's best bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich had to be something special. Homemade basil mayonnaise kicked this everyday sandwich up a few hundred notches, and the mayo-in-a-jar method was fun, too.
Apple crisp wontons might not be my personal favorite (I'm more of a cookie gal), but they were your favorite. Easy to make, best served warm and sprinkled with powdered sugar, these are a treat at any time of year.
So, those are my top 11 recipes of 2011, recipes that use what we already have in our pantries. Did I forget any of your favorites?
Thank you for being here to share these dishes with my family, Kathy, Chelsea and our taste-testing friends. More recipes to come in 2012!
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