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July 20, 2014

Cucumber salad with roasted lemon, mint and basil dressing {vegan, gluten-free}

Thinly sliced cucumber dressed with roasted lemon, mint and basil. #vegan #glutenfree

What happens when you roast a lemon? It morphs from a fruit that's impossibly sour, to one that's improbably sweet. Squeeze the juice from that sweet lemon and blend it with bright, fresh herbs and fruity olive oil, and you create a salad dressing that's a little bit magical. For this simple salad, I sliced a seedless English cucumber into paper-thin slices on the mandoline, drizzled it with the dressing, and let it sit for 15 minutes so some of the dressing seeped into the cucumber. Try this with zucchini, or beets, or thin slices of boiled potato, or nectarines. I had some dressing left over, and slathered it on grilled salmon -- and yes, it was perfect.

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July 9, 2014

Shakshuka: eggs in fiery tomato sauce {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Shakshuka, a Tunisian-Israeli dish of eggs poached in a fiery tomato sauce.

My recipe for this popular Tunisian-Israeli vegetarian dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato and bell pepper sauce is the second-best shakshuka I've ever tasted. The best, the very best, my husband Ted, cousin Martin and I practically inhaled at breakfast at The Gingerbread in Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica, where Eyal Ben-Menachem, the Israeli chef-owner, works his magic. (I'm sharing the secret to Eyal's recipe in my new e-cookbook, 25 Tomatoes, which comes out next week.) Even though I'm admitting my shakshuka is second-best, it's really pretty great, and I use ingredients you already have in your pantry. The one requirement is heat, in some form: chile peppers (fresh or canned), chile powder, hot smoked paprika. It's up to you, and your heat tolerance. If you're serving shakshuka for breakfast, as is traditional, you might want the sauce mildly spicy; on those breakfast-for-dinner days, kick the heat up by adding more red pepper flakes, a pinch of cayenne, or even a few shakes of hot sauce. The recipe yields enough sauce for six people; make the whole batch, and keep any leftover in your freezer for a super quick worknight supper or weekend brunch. Serve with slices of toasted crusty bread, for mopping up the sauce.

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June 29, 2014

Asparagus and lemon risotto (pressure cooker or stovetop) {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Asparagus and lemon risotto, made easy in the pressure cooker. #glutenfree

It's almost the end of asparagus season here in Rhode Island, and I'm begging my friends for a few spears here and there, whatever crumbs of the harvest they're willing to toss my way. Every spear is precious when you know it will be ten months until local asparagus returns to the farm stands. I freeze some to use for soup later in the year, but the texture doesn't hold up for a dish like risotto, where the crisp bite of barely-cooked asparagus makes such a perfect contrast to the creamy rice. Two things conspired to create this recipe: the no-longer-dreaded pressure cooker was sitting on the counter, having just been used to cook something else; and the grocery delivery service brought me not the one lemon I'd ordered, but a whole bag of lemons. With a few spears of asparagus in the refrigerator, it was almost too easy. Of course you can make this recipe on the stovetop, too, by following the directions and proportions for this risotto with shrimp and asparagus.

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June 25, 2014

Spaghetti squash with spicy marinara sauce and chickpeas {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Spaghetti squash with spicy marinara sauce and chickpeas.

Lately I've been on a spaghetti squash kick, and I did a quick search to learn more about this vegetable that's such a recent addition to my repertoire. Spaghetti squash, also called vegetable squash, noodle squash, or -- get this -- squaghetti, is a winter squash low in calories, and high in Vitamin A, potassium, and beta carotene. It has no strong taste of its own, so it pairs well with sauces, spices and more aggressive ingredients that bring their own flavor. You can serve spaghetti squash just as you'd serve spaghetti, and that's what I've done in this recipe. A simple meatless marinara sauce, bumped up with red pepper flakes and tossed with chickpeas and parmesan cheese, makes this as Italian as you're likely to find in any restaurant. All that's missing are the pasta carbs and calories.

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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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