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September 14, 2014

Slow cooker Caribbean pepper pot {gluten-free}

Caribbean pepper pot, filled with chicken, shrimp, squash and kale.

A few weeks ago, I awoke in the middle of the night, craving Caribbean pepper pot. Can you imagine what I was dreaming about? Adventures on the high seas? Salsa dancing on the beach? Bright colored head scarves and flowing tunics? Johnny Depp? I wish I could remember. Not to worry, though: I remembered the important part: spicy stew, filled with the goodness of the islands, and I absolutely had to make it. In my dream there was shrimp and rice and callaloo, a typical dark leafy green grown throughout the Caribbean. It's not impossible to find callaloo at specialty supermarkets, but I swapped kale, which was perfect. Most pepper pot recipes call for fiery hot habañero peppers in terrifying quantities. I substituted several milder jalapeños, and there was still plenty of kick. Please do not omit the pepper. If you don't like spicy food, make another dish. After all, this one is called pepper pot for a reason. I made enough for Ted, Christine, Rebecca, Shweta and Robby, who had his portion for breakfast, and when they polished it off, I regretted I hadn't made more. May the recipe bring you amazing food-filled dreams.

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September 10, 2014

Tex-Mex taco sauce {gluten-free}

Tex-Mex taco sauce fills a tortilla.

When I went off to college and had to cook for myself, I made lots and lots of spaghetti with red sauce. One of the few things I knew how to cook, it would feed a crowd, and leftovers went right into the freezer. Maybe there was something meditative about stirring the sauce pot, or maybe I was avoiding doing my homework, or maybe both. All these (many) years later, I prepare spaghetti sauce basically the same way, and this Tex-Mex taco sauce is a peppy riff on that sauce I used to make in my college dorm. You can spice this up or down, by playing with the canned green chiles and chili pepper proportions, but don't leave out all of the hot pepper ingredients. After all, it wouldn't be Tex-Mex without a little something to make you kick up your heels. Cook the full amount of the recipe, and freeze it in smaller portions for tacos, quesadillas, burritos or Sloppy Joes.

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September 7, 2014

Green herb and kale risotto, pressure cooker or stovetop {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Green herb risotto with kale (pressure cooker or stovetop).

In September 2007, when I first posted this recipe for green herb risotto, life was simpler. My herb garden consisted of a few tiny beds, with one plant of this, and one of that. I didn't own a pressure cooker; in fact, I still lived in fear of them. And I hadn't fully embraced kale; the earlier recipe calls for spinach and zucchini, in keeping with the green theme. Seven years later, things have changed. My herb garden overflows with all five of the herbs used in this risotto recipe and dozens more. I fearlessly use my electric pressure cooker at least once a week, to keep the kitchen cool and to speed up dishes like this one. And kale? Well, I love it, and I prefer its more assertive flavor. So, as times have changed, this green risotto recipe has changed a bit. I'm giving you pressure cooker directions here. For the stovetop version, please click through to the original recipe.

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August 24, 2014

Salad Nicoise-style, with tuna, green beans, olives and potatoes {gluten-free}

Salad with lots of Nicoise ingredients: beans, olives, potatoes.

Before seeing Julia Child make it on an episode of The French Chef, way back when, I'd never heard of salade Nicoise. Julia dressed each element of the classic composed salad individually, arranged everything artfully on a platter, and presented it (to her television audience) with great fanfare. I took a few shortcuts in preparing my version, which was precipitated by the gift of some beautiful crispy green beans from my friend Donna's garden. I had fingerling potatoes left from another recipe, plus local tomatoes and some pitted kalamata olives. A hard-boiled farm egg with a golden yolk. Baby cucumbers, almost seedless. A red bell pepper. I added a small piece of roasted tuna (vegetarians can substitute chickpeas), and used my favorite balsamic vinaigrette dressing to pull together the melange of cooked and raw components. Not 100 percent authentic, but very good indeed. The recipe multiplies easily, to serve a crowd, and you can make all of the pieces ahead of time for last-minute assembly. Bon appétit!

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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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