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January 7, 2014

Recipe for whole wheat penne pasta with Greek red lentil, feta and olive sauce {vegetarian}

Whole wheat penne pasta with Greek red lentil feta and olive sauce, for Meatless Mondays (The Perfect Pantry).

'Twas the week after a week of holiday parties, and all through the house, nobody felt like standing over the stove, not one single person, and especially not me. And yet, people needed to eat. The pantry presented all sorts of possibilities, and before I knew it, I'd thrown together lentils and pasta and olives and feta. What evolved was this Greek-inspired pasta dish with enough protein and heft to satisfy vegetarians and meat lovers alike. Lentil sauces for pasta are more common than you'd imagine, and tossing a handful of lentils into a traditional marinara boosts the nutritional value by adding plenty of fiber. I pulled the sauce off the heat before the lentils collapsed, because I love the more rustic texture, but you can let them cook a few minutes longer and watch them melt into the tomato sauce. Opa!

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November 21, 2013

Recipe for sautéed escarole with garlic and parmesan cheese {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Sautéed escarole with garlic and parmesan cheese.

In any selection of offerings on the holiday menu, a cook should always sneak in a couple of no-stress side dishes. Sautéed escarole with garlic and parmesan cheese is easy on the cook, yet absolutely worthy of a place at the table. One of the antioxidant-rich dark leafy greens, escarole plays a starring role in Italian vegetable soups and stews, but here it's the star of its own show. Cooking in olive oil softens the leaves and mellows the bitterness that's common to many dark greens. Add garlic and real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and a few red pepper flakes for fun, and you have a simple, yet stunning, side dish. Make this at the very last minute, before you're ready to serve.

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November 10, 2013

Recipe for slow cooker turkey breast stuffed with ricotta, tomato and basil {gluten-free}

Slow cooker turkey breast stuffed with tomato, ricotta and basil.

Continuing my experiments with cooking boneless turkey breast in the slow cooker, I decided to go back to my roots. No, I'm not Italian, but one of my earliest, and best, experiences as a food writer came courtesy of a well-known Italian-American Boston police officer. I'm pleased to share this reinvention of his recipe for stuffed chicken, which works so perfectly with turkey breast. The slow cooker frees your oven for all those amazing side dishes that taste best when cooked at the last minute, and the slow braise helps retain moisture in the meat. Be sure to buy a turkey breast that hasn't been shot full of salty brine, or stabbed with a plastic pop-up timer. Your butcher will be happy to butterfly it for you; unless you have mad butchering skills, leave this step to the professionals. You can do the rest. Stuff, roll, tie, cook, and collect the oohs and aahs when you bring this turkey to the table.

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October 29, 2013

Recipe for spinach and feta phyllo cups {vegetarian}

Spinach and feta phyllo cups, a quick and easy appetizer.

Mini phyllo cups just might be the best thing that ever happened to appetizers. To be honest, apps aren't really my thing; give me a bowl of hummus or salsa and something to dip, and I'm all set. However, every now and then, especially during the holiday season, I like to present my guests with something a bit more, well... polished, and that's when I turn to phyllo cups. I always have a few boxes stashed in the freezer; each box contains fifteen little cups, which means you don't need a lot of filling, and you can make multiple batches without much more effort. These spinach and feta phyllo cups are one-bite treats (or, for the very dainty, two bites), and offer a burst of flavor without a heavy filling. It takes less time to put them together than it takes to preheat the oven. How easy is that?

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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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