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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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November 30, 2014

Risotto alla Milanese, stovetop or pressure cooker method {gluten-free}

Risotto alla Milanese, the ultimate classic risotto rich with saffron and cheese.

My love affair with risotto began with this saffron-tinged risotto alla Milanese, and now that I'm learning to make risotto in the pressure cooker, I'm more in love than ever before. There are only a handful of ingredients in this dish, so each one needs to be the very best you can find. Real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, good Italian arborio rice, pure saffron threads (expensive, but you only need a pinch), creamy butter, and broth that isn't too salty. When you're cooking with short-grain rices, note that the proportion of liquid to rice is approximately 4-to-1, compared to the 2-to-1 ratio for cooking long-grain white rice; however, in the pressure cooker, which retains more liquid in the cooking process, the proportion is slightly different. I've given you both methods, because I really want you to fall in love with this risotto, too. (And here's a tip for parents: when preparing this for your kids, call it "yellow cheesy rice." It works for us.)

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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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  • 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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