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September 6, 2012

Recipe for spicy vegan zucchini and tomato stew with garlic and mint {gluten-free}

Spicy vegan zucchini and tomato stew with garlic and mint, from The Perfect Pantry.

When the last of Bob and Charlotte's canoe-size zucchini appeared in my car (how careless of me to leave the car unlocked in their driveway), I planned to turn that zucchini, along with a few trimmings of some very ripe tomatoes, into a curry. Along the way, however, cinnamon and cumin called out to me, and just like that, this mildly spicy vegan zucchini and tomato stew veered off toward the Middle East. A few sprigs of mint from my garden gave the dish just the right amount of brightness, without overwhelming the delicate zucchini flavor, and turmeric turned it a glowing golden color. As with all stews, this was even better on the second day, served over fluffy brown rice.

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July 10, 2012

Recipe for cucumber ribbon salad with ranch-style buttermilk herb dressing {vegetarian}

Cool and refreshing cucumber ribbon salad with ranch-style buttermilk herb dressing.

Necessity -- or is it forgetfulness? or humidity? -- being the mother of invention, this cucumber ribbon salad owes its spectacular ranch-style buttermilk herb dressing to a great pantry, and to my strong desire not to drive five miles to the grocery store for a quart of buttermilk on an unbearably hazy-hot-humid day. Powdered buttermilk, a baking pantry staple that will keep perfectly happy in the refrigerator for months, contributes the characteristic tangy ranch flavor, with a boost from Greek yogurt and a small amount of mayonnaise. I like the combination of dill, parsley and chives from my garden for a vibrant herby punch. The overall result? Delicate, much more so than traditional ranch dressing. I'm planning to use the leftover dressing on grilled salmon. The cucumber salad didn't last much longer than the time it took to photograph it. I ate it for breakfast. All of it.

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April 12, 2012

Recipe for pita pizzas with caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and pine nuts {vegetarian}


For the past five-plus years, I've been preaching the gospel of a well-stocked pantry, so when a recent medical episode grounded me for a few weeks, I dove into my pantry enthusiastically, and cooked some great meals with what I had on hand. These pita pizzas topped with caramelized onions, slow-roasted or sun-dried tomatoes, olives and parmesan cheese, epitomize pantry cooking. The small size pita, a low carb oat-and-flax flatbread from Joseph's, has few calories and fewer carbs, and it's just the right size for an individual pizza topped with whatever treasures your pantry offers up. I love this combination of caramelized onions (made two weeks ago in the slow cooker), sun-dried or slow-roasted tomatoes, olives and cheese; if you're into broccoli, or roasted red peppers, or pepperoni, pile them on. Pita pizzas are great for a party, too. Set up an array of toppings, and let each person create his or her own masterpiece.

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April 5, 2012

Recipe for slow cooker Puerto Rican black beans with sofrito and cilantro {vegan, gluten-free}


Three times I attempted this black bean recipe, as I tried to recreate a dish I enjoyed years ago in a local Puerto Rican restaurant. Three times I loaded my slow cooker with dried beans, not presoaked, just rinsed and picked over. First, I tried cooking them without any seasoning, thinking I'd add the flavorings at the end so they wouldn't keep the beans from softening. (Not enough water; the beans turned into a solid blob before I realized it.) The second time, I added sufficient liquid, but in an act of defiance, the perfectly cooked beans refused to absorb the sofrito, tomato or spices. (Blech.) The third time, success: dry beans, correct amount of water, sofrito and tomato and spices added right at the beginning, everything coming together with no more intervention on my part than a stir somewhere between hours five and six. In a pinch, you can substitute store-bought sofrito (I like Goya red sofrito, though it contains a tiny amount of MSG), but it takes just a minute to make your own from scratch.

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About The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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