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November 16, 2014

Warm Brussels sprouts, almond and goat cheese salad with maple mustard dressing {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Warm Brussels sprouts salad with almonds and goat cheese. #Thanksgiving #vegetarian #glutenfree

I'd forgotten how much my husband Ted loves Brussels sprouts until I watched him devour a bowl of this salad for lunch the other day. I don't love them quite as much, but I could bathe in the warm maple syrup and mustard dressing that gives these particular Brussels sprouts their sweet, tangy character. Country-style grainy Dijon, speckled with whole mustard seeds, adds texture to the dressing, which is made right in the pan with the vegetables. For a holiday meal, do your prep ahead of time, and cook the sprouts at the last minute. The heat of the sprouts will melt the cheese just a little bit. If you don't like goat cheese, use feta, or omit cheese for a vegan salad. Substitute cashews or pecans for the almonds. You'll want to serve this salad warm -- not hot, and definitely not cold. It's perfect for the holiday table, yet quick and easy enough for an everyday side dish with chicken, fish, or steak.

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November 5, 2014

Curried butternut squash and apple soup {vegan, gluten-free}

Curried butternut squash and apple soup, with Thai flavors. #glutenfree #vegan

In our house, Fall doesn't begin officially until the first pot of butternut squash soup hits the stove. Most often, I combine butternut (my favorite, though buttercup, acorn or Hubbard are wonderful substitutes) with apples from our local orchards, and bind them together with Indian curry spices like cumin, coriander and turmeric. Lately, I've been craving the raw heat of Thai red curry paste, and that sent this year's butternut squash soup in a new direction. (The recipe calls for a tablespoon of curry paste, which won't make the soup very spicy, but please use half that amount if you're worried about too much heat. You can always add more.) The thick and creamy soup is vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free, thanks to coconut milk. A little bit of brown sugar and a hit of fresh lime juice add a light, bright finish. If you're doing a soup swap this winter, put this soup on your make-ahead-and-freeze list.

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November 2, 2014

Spanish rice with onion, garlic and bell peppers {gluten-free}

Spanish rice, a perfect kid-friendly side dish with beef, chicken or fish.  #glutenfree

Oh, the places you can go with this basic Spanish rice -- which isn't Spanish at all, to be honest. It's American, or Southwestern, or Mexican, depending on what you add to it. Some recipes call for canned tomato with its juice, which can overwhelm the dish and make it taste like a can of tomato rice soup, or maybe a 1950s school cafeteria lunch. Here, the emphasis stays on the rice; the combination of fresh tomatoes and slow-roasted tomatoes (made with garlic and thyme) adds depth of flavor, without drowning out the toasted grain's nutty flavor and firm texture. As is, this is a family-friendly side dish that makes it fun to eat your colors. Mix-ins can transform it into a one-pot main course; add mild or hot fresh or canned chile peppers, chorizo or your favorite sausage, shrimp, leftover rotisserie chicken, meatballs, or cubes of grilled pork or beef. Olé!

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October 26, 2014

Egg and cheese breakfast casserole with butternut squash, bell pepper and leeks {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Egg and cheese breakfast casserole with butternut squash, bell pepper and leeks. #meatlessmonday #glutenfree #vegetarian

In my house, we're big on breakfast-for-dinner. We also love breakfast in the morning, at brunch, and for light lunches. Whether I'm feeding a crowd, or just want to cook once and make enough for several breakfast portions during the week, I love egg and cheese casseroles. Mix in any vegetables you have on hand (use up leftover steamed or roasted vegetables, if you have those). Stir in some beans, or shrimp, or roast chicken. Play with color. For this casserole, I started with half of a butternut squash left from a soup-making day. Using the large-holed side of a box grater, I (carefully!) shredded the squash so it would cook quickly and evenly. Red bell pepper added sweetness and color, and the one leek (also left from soup-making) contributed its own sweet onion flavor. In my egg casseroles, I often prefer a store-bought low-fat Italian cheese blend; you can swap in shredded mozzarella and provolone mixed with a bit of parmesan cheese. Served with crusty bread and a simple green salad, this vegetarian dish would be perfect for Meatless Monday.

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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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