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March 27, 2014

Recipe for iceberg lettuce (or green salad) with lighter Thousand Island dressing {vegetarian}

Iceberg lettuce wedge with lighter Thousand Island dressing (The Perfect Pantry).

As a child in the 1960s, I couldn't help but fall in love with bell bottom pants and tie-dyed T-shirts, Doris Day movies, the Beatles, and iceberg lettuce wedges. Going out for a fancy dinner meant starting with a perfect triangle of crispy, ice-cold iceberg topped with sweet Thousand Island dressing. I know it's hard to imagine now that this was a delicacy way back when, but it was a treat we always anticipated with glee when we went to the "fine dining" restaurants in the suburbs. Today, it's a retro salad that will bring smiles to the faces of everyone at your table, for the same reason we loved it when I was a child -- because it's good. I've lightened up the mix a bit with nonfat Greek yogurt and reduced-calorie mayonnaise, though the amount of mayo is small enough that it really doesn't make a huge difference if you use the real thing. If you don't have a bottle of sweet green relish in your fridge (it always comes in the picnic packs with ketchup and yellow mustard), chop some pickles and capers instead, and add a tiny bit of sugar. Now, does this salad bring back memories for you?

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March 9, 2014

Recipe for corn and black bean salad with sweet lime dressing {vegan, gluten-free}

Black bean and corn salad (The Perfect Pantry). #vegan #glutenfree

Here in New England, corn season lasts for six weeks, and these middle-of-March weeks are not the weeks for fresh corn. Don't let that stop you from enjoying this gorgeous vegan and gluten-free side salad. Buy frozen organic corn kernels or frozen fire-roasted corn (if you're lucky enough to have a Trader Joe's market nearby). Combine the corn with canned or cooked black beans; I'm using my new pressure cooker to make large batches of beans, so I always have some on hand. Add a squirt of lime for a bright, fresh flavor. You'll forget that it's winter. When corn season arrives, make this salad with fresh corn kernels and bell pepper from your garden, and it will be that much better. Serve it with salmon (oh, the colors!) or roast chicken.

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January 23, 2014

Barbecue sauce (Recipe: meat-free split pea soup) {vegan, gluten-free}

Originally published in October 2006, this updated ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. Just in time for National Soup Swap, this make-ahead-and-freeze soup is vegan on its own, or you can add leftover shredded chicken or cooked sausage for an omnivore's delight.

Meat-free split pea soup, from The Perfect Pantry.

Recently, I spilled the beans about my relationship to Miracle Whip. My friends were aghast, my cooking buddies appalled, my family amused. Now, hold on to your coffee mug, because I've got another shocking pantry revelation: I keep a bottle of barbecue sauce in my refrigerator at all times.

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January 12, 2014

Recipe for old-fashioned slow cooker pot roast with gravy

Slow cooker pot roast with gravy (The Perfect Pantry).

A couple of weeks ago, I dreamt about a good old-fashioned pot roast with brown gravy, roast potatoes and carrots, the kind of dish we got in the school cafeteria when I was a kid. To satisfy my adult craving, the taste had to be rich, meaty, and traditional. No hot sauce, no random Asian ingredients thrown in for fun: I wanted the pot roast I remembered from childhood. I can't explain why; as cravings go, this one was quite specific. Of course, nothing prevented me from using really good ingredients, and improving on my taste memory with a terrific rendition of pot roast. I loved it all the more because I made it in the slow cooker, which perfumed the house with lovely aromas while I went about the other work I'd planned for the day. Except for a nice piece of beef chuck, everything for this recipe came directly from my well-stocked pantry.

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December 22, 2013

Sweet Rhode Island coffee-dunked turkey appetizer meatballs recipe (slow cooker)

Sweet coffee (decaf!) meatballs, made in the slow cooker. (The Perfect Pantry)

Did you grow up in a meatball house? In the house where I grew up, there were two kinds of meatballs: big red ones, cooked in sauce made with a packet of Spatini, and small sweet-and-sour ones, made by my dad in nothing smaller than five-pound batches. Never did we have anything approaching the sheer nirvana of these sweet Rhode Island coffee-dunked turkey appetizer meatballs. This recipe, from my e-book A Flock of Meatballs: Easy turkey recipes with around-the-world flavors, pretty much requires that you buy a bottle of real Rhode Island coffe syrup (my favorite local product, hands down, is Dave's All-Natural Decaf Coffee Syrup), used to make Rhode Island's official state drink, coffee milk. You can substitute strong brewed decaf coffee plus molasses, and it will be good, though not authentically Rhody. These meatballs freeze so well that you might want to double the quantity, and stash some for last-minute holiday appetizers.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives. Thanks so much for visiting.

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