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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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October 12, 2014

Basque chicken with bell pepper and tomato {gluten-free}

Basque chicken baked with bell peppers and tomato. #glutenfree

The older I get, the more I like to keep my cooking simple. Honestly, I like to keep everything simple. So, when I revisited this recipe for chicken basquaise, originally published in 2007, I knew I could streamline the steps without sacrificing any of the flavor. The Espelette pepper lends a muskiness to the chicken; if you haven't got it on your spice rack, substitute mild smoked paprika, Aleppo pepper, or urfa pepper. As good as the chicken is on the day you make it, the dish is that much better the next day. Enjoy this stew hot, served with noodles or rice, or cold. It's a great make-ahead entertaining dish, too.

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October 8, 2014

Smashed white bean, chicken sausage and kale soup {gluten-free}

Smashed white bean, sausage and kale soup, great to make ahead and freeze.

In retail, October means Halloween. At the farmstand, October means pumpkin. In The Perfect Pantry's kitchen, October means soup, and signals the return of dark leafy greens to the cooking rotation. The first of many new soup recipes to come, this white bean, chicken sausage and kale soup draws on ingredients I always have in the pantry, plus a bunch of fresh kale. All of my local grocery stores stock a good variety of chicken sausages these days, and I always have a few varieties in my freezer. Use something like tomato and basil, or garlic and onion, in this recipe. Or, if spicy is your thing, try this soup with your favorite spicy sausage. Use a wooden spoon to smash some white beans against the side of the pot; aside from being lots of fun and a great way to purge yourself of any frustrations, this helps to thicken the soup base without any additional thickening agents needed. This is a quick and easy soup to make ahead and freeze, or toss together at the last minute for weeknight dinner.

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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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