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February 18, 2015

Spaghetti squash boat with clams, zucchini, peppers and olives {gluten-free}

Roasted spaghetti squash boats filled with clams, vegetables and cheese. #glutenfree

Today, despite the umpteenth day of snow, The Perfect Pantry® departs the log house kitchen, where the blog was born and where my e-books and their headless videos came to life, and moves to the city. My husband Ted and I are excited to return full-time to Boston's South End, a multi-ethnic neighborhood where we've lived since 1980. I'm going to take a few days to unpack, organize the kitchen and pantry, and stock up at the wonderful local stores -- Syrian Grocery (olives, spices, pita bread), Formaggio (cheese, bread and more spices), Ming's Market (Asian), Morse Fish, Foodies supermarket (great produce and butcher) -- that are within blocks of our apartment. I also have to figure out where, and how, to take food photographs in the new space. If you're curious, I'll be sharing photos of my new kitchen in the next Tidbits newsletter, so if you're not already subscribed (it's free), click this link to sign up. In the meantime, I want you to keep cooking, so I'm leaving you with a spaghetti squash recipe, one we've made many times over the past few months, and I hope you'll try it this week. If you don't love clams, substitute shrimp or scallops or mussels, and for liquid, use a bottle of clam juice from the supermarket. I'll be back soon with more recipes -- sooner if you come and help me unpack -- and Like or Dislike will be here on Saturday morning as usual.

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February 15, 2015

Salsa verde turkey and brown rice bowl with avocado and cheese {gluten-free}

Salsa verde turkey and brown rice bowl, topped with avocado and cheese, makes a perfect one-dish meal.

When I set out to create a recipe for The Perfect Pantry, I often begin by jotting down ingredients and the quantities of each that I think will bring the dish to life. As I cook, I adjust and fine-tune. When the recipe works, you see it here. When it doesn't, I go back to the drawing board and start again. In the first notes about this salsa verde turkey, I was certain I'd add a can of chopped green chiles. Fortunately -- and here is the important lesson -- I tasted the salsa first. I used a jar of Trader Joe's Hatch Valley Salsa, a hot-hot-hot green chile salsa, and it was plenty hot enough for me. In the recipe, I caution you to taste your green salsa, as there are so many varieties of store-bought salsa that will be great in this recipe. Use a mild tomatillo salsa, or an incendiary one; it doesn't matter, as long as it's green, and you like the taste.

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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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Welcome to 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. Thanks so much for visiting.

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