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September 17, 2014

Italian vegetable soup {vegetarian}

Italian vegetable soup, packed with garden goodness and couscous. #vegetarian

With summer nearly at an end, I decided to celebrate the change in season by stirring up a giant pot of Italian vegetable soup, full of the bits and pieces left in my friends' gardens and passed along to me: zucchini, green beans, a couple of potatoes, fennel, kale, a few heads of garlic. This soup welcomes most stragglers, in any amount, so if your garden didn't give you fennel, but did leave you with more than a few zucchini, simply use what you've got. I added canned tomatoes, which are always on my pantry shelf, but if you have fresh tomatoes, or your own home-canned stewed tomatoes, by all means use those instead. If you're gluten-free, omit the couscous. Vegans can skip the parmesan cheese. And busy moms or dads can make a batch of this soup at the beginning of the week, and add leftover chicken or turkey sausage to make quick school night dinners.

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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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August 10, 2014

Roasted ratatouille with fresh basil and balsamic vinaigrette {vegan, gluten-free}

Roasted ratatouille, with eggplant, zucchini and pepper. #vegan #glutenfree

When eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes all show up at the farm stand at exactly the same time, my cooking brain goes right to ratatouille (rat-a-too-eee), the Provencal vegetable stew that fills omelets, tops rice, and snuggles up to grilled fish or chicken. I've made pots and pots of ratatouille in my day, some in the slow cooker, some with chicken, and while I love it, I'm not always in the mood for something stew-ish. I decided to try a different method; I diced and roasted a variety of summer squash I found in the kitchen -- a green zucchini, a yellow crookneck squash, and a pattypan -- with an onion, bell pepper, and eggplant. Then, I tossed the roasted vegetables with fresh tomatoes and some basil from the garden, plus a mustardy vinaigrette. The result was more like a salad than a stew. The next day, I combined the leftover vegetables with white beans and cooked shrimp, added a bit more dressing, and created a spectacular one-dish dinner, perfect for a summer night.

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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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