February 8, 2015

Brussels sprouts, bacon and greens salad with roasted shrimp {gluten-free}

Brussels sprouts, bacon and greens, topped with roasted shrimp (optional), make a fabulous main course salad. #glutenfree

As it turns out, downsizing the pantry, in preparation for our move from the log house to a small apartment in the city, hasn't been the nightmare I'd feared. Instead, I've been discovering hidden treasures in the deep recesses of the shelves, and letting those ingredients inspire new and interesting combinations. Three boxes of powdered buttermilk packets -- enough to make 12 quarts (!) of buttermilk -- revealed themselves last week, and immediately I thought of using some in a salad dressing. The remaining ingredients in this Brussels sprouts, bacon and greens salad came from the pantry, the fridge (bacon and yogurt), and the freezer (shrimp). Lately we've been into raw Brussels sprouts, something I hadn't tried until just a few months ago, and those form the base for this all-seasons salad. In summer, toss in a ripe tomato, or omit the protein altogether and add some nuts or chickpeas for a vegetarian main dish.

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February 4, 2015

Moroccan beef stew/tagine with apricots and onions {gluten-free}

Moroccan beef tagine with apricots, onions, and a hint of cinnamon.

Packing continues for our move to Boston in a couple of weeks, and as I pack my kitchen, I'm downsizing like crazy. This means that every pot, pan, dish, and utensil undergoes scrutiny. Have I used it enough to give it precious shelf space in the tiny kitchen I'll have in the new apartment? My Dutch oven makes the cut, of course, and my favorite tagine pot -- one with a cast iron bottom and a ceramic top that looks like an inverted flower pot, made by my friend Bob -- earns its place, too. As I was about to pack the tagine, I decided to give it one more turn in the log house kitchen, and this beef stew with apricots and onions was the happy result. The combination of meat and dried fruit, so popular in North African and Middle Eastern countries, along with cinnamon, elevates this beef stew with a sweet and sour note that's both unusual and pleasing, giving the stew a brighter flavor. I used organic dried apricots, which have a dark, musky color; for little pops of orange in your tagine, choose regular dried apricots, found in the produce section of your supermarket. Ras-el hanout is a spice blend that contains cumin, along with a dozen other spices, and if you can't find it, cumin makes an acceptable substitute.

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January 25, 2015

Pressure cooker chickpea gremolata with green olives, pine nuts and raisins {vegan, gluten-free}

Chickpea gremolata with olives and raisins #vegan #glutenfree

Other than in hummus, chickpeas don't turn me on. Or they didn't, until I tried this chickpea gremolata and pumped it up with pine nuts and raisins and green olives. This dish was the kind of perfect storm that can occur when you have a perfect pantry: a long-forgotten gift package of dried chickpeas discovered on the back shelf of the cupboard; a bag of giant mixed raisins from Trader Joe's; and a pressure cooker standing empty. The best thing about this dish is the texture of the chickpeas. Without any presoaking, add the dry chickpeas to the pressure cooker, and what comes out is not in the least bit mushy or overcooked, without any canned-chickpea aftertaste. Then, toss those un-mushy chickpeas with robust fresh ingredients for a quick marriage of sweet and salty and olive oil and heat. Divine.

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January 7, 2015

Confetti spaghetti squash with peppers, zucchini, lemon and capers {vegan, gluten-free}

Scrape out strands of spaghetti squash topped with colorful vegetables. Fun for kids and adults! #vegan #glutenfree

When I first shared this recipe in a post about capers, in January 2008, I thought that, because I found it in a kids' cookbook, it would be typical kid food. Au contraire. Capers give the vegetable sauce a sophisticated profile, but honestly, I imagine my grandkids would take great pains to pick out each and every caper berry. Two changes I've made in the way I prepare this recipe now: I use smaller amounts of both capers and lemon juice, which tend to overwhelm the delicate vegetables, and I add a teaspoon of garlic. I like to serve the vegetable topping right in the spaghetti squash, so each person can scrape out his or her own squash as they go along. Sometimes, I grate some parmesan or asiago cheese on top. Not vegan, but delicious.

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December 17, 2014

Sweet and sour slow cooker red cabbage with apples and onions {vegan, gluten-free}

Slow cooker red cabbage, just as good on hot dogs as on the holiday table! #vegan #glutenfree #crockpot

Nothing revolutionary here, just a reliably delicious traditional side dish that you can serve hot or cold. In fact, my husband Ted's first reaction after taste testing was, "This would be great on a hot dog!" And so you see it, served at room temperature, piled on an organic beef hot dog. Ted was absolutely right; it's a great pairing. I'd love to see this sweet and sour cabbage on the holiday table, slightly warm and oh-so-holiday-red. The stunning color and tangy flavor, which comes from a mix of vinegars, compliment a range of menus, from Christmas goose to roast chicken to fish tacos. The recipe calls for pomegranate vinegar, which I buy at Trader Joe's (or online); if you can't find this, substitute a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar plus a teaspoon of red wine vinegar, or swap in pomegranate juice. Top a rice bowl with red cabbage and some chunks of cheese, for a quick vegetarian lunch. With five minutes of prep, you can set cabbage in the slow cooker to do its thing all day, while you are at work or running errands. Make it a few days ahead, and let it get happy in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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About The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, 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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