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August 16, 2009

Fresh herbs (Recipe: fava bean salad) {vegan, gluten-free}

Fresh herbs

Would you call me a food snob?

I drink Fresca, sing the praises of Miracle Whip, and make a great chicken salad from a boxed rice mix. My pantry harbors no-boil lasagne noodles, curry powder, broccoli slaw and discos -- all convenience foods.

Yet, from April to October, I cook only with fresh herbs, from my summer pantry (also known as my garden), and no other herbs will do.

Continue reading "Fresh herbs (Recipe: fava bean salad) {vegan, gluten-free}" »

October 9, 2008

How to preserve the harvest, even if it comes from the grocery store (Recipe: pear chutney)


Every year in May, Candy and Dave drive down from Boston to help me prepare and plant the herb garden.

Every Monday morning in summer, before sunrise and before my first cup of coffee, I toddle out into the garden in my pajamas and cut handfuls of herbs. After I wrap the cuttings in damp paper towels, Ted delivers them to Boston in what we've come to call our very own "herb CSA."

Every September, Candy and Dave return to harvest, cook, dry and freeze the fruits (and herbs) of our summer garden into pantry items we use all winter.

This year, on harvest day, we put up two types of pesto, mint jalapeño syrup -- and the hottest chutney this side of anywhere.

Continue reading "How to preserve the harvest, even if it comes from the grocery store (Recipe: pear chutney)" »

November 6, 2007

Garlic (Recipe: pear and parsnip soup)

Updated March 2011.


Here in Rhode Island, people don't always know what to do with the letter R.

It pops up where it shouldn't: Coventry becomes "Carventry," Lydia becomes "Lydier."

And it's missing from at least one fundamental pantry ingredient: garlic, which the locals call gah-lick.

Fortunately, it's only the R that's missing, and not the garlic itself. Rhode Island is justly famous for Italian-American cuisine, with no skimping on the garlic. Two farms within a few miles of my house offer unusual and heirloom varieties, including both softneck (the most common type) and hardneck. In the supermarket, garlic is garlic, anonymous and uniform, but at the farm stands, garlic answers to many names: Rocambole, Spanish Roja, Chesnok Red, Mexican Red Silver.

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October 14, 2007

Parsley (Recipe: tzatziki) {vegetarian}


Simon and Garfunkel would feel right at home in my herb garden.

I have it all: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

Can you see them in this photo?


I have lemon thyme and lemongrass, Thai basil and purple basil, chives and garlic chives too, but for some reason, I've never been able to grow dill.

Fresh herbs are an important part of The Perfect Pantry, even though they are only available from the garden for five months of the year. Of the four herbs of song, parsley will be first to go, as night temperatures begin their descent into winter. (Most of the tender basil has bid farewell for the year, though there is a fresh batch of pesto in the freezer.) It's a shame, too, because this year my parsley field produced the most glorious plants, rich in color and flavor, and, for the first time, I began to use my flat-leaf parsley not only as a garnish, but also as a valued ingredient in my cooking.

Continue reading "Parsley (Recipe: tzatziki) {vegetarian}" »

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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