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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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July 30, 2014

White beans with shrimp, basil, and slow-roasted tomatoes {gluten-free}

White beans, shrimp, basil, garlicky roasted tomatoes: comfort food! #glutenfree

A well-stocked pantry + an herb garden + zero motivation to leave the house on a hot and sticky day = this magical bowl of garlicky white beans with shrimp and basil. Every couple of weeks, I cook a large batch of beans in my pressure cooker, so I've always got some on hand (you can use canned beans for this recipe, too). There's shrimp in the freezer, basil in the garden, and slow-roasted tomatoes packed in baggies, ready to go. (Watch me make slow-roasted tomatoes in my new e-book, 25 Tomatoes.) The magic comes from a little pinch of red pepper flakes that kicks up the flavor, without adding a lot of heat. This comfort food recipe is going into permanent rotation in my kitchen, for quick and easy worknight dinners. It's amazing what you can create with an almost-perfect pantry.

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July 23, 2014

Pasta with slow-roasted tomatoes, basil and olives {vegetarian}, and 25 Tomatoes, my new e-cookbook

Pasta with slow-roasted tomatoes, basil, olives and cheese. So easy! #vegetarian

When tomatoes peak in the late summer, you will not find me at the farm, buying bushels of Rutgers or Big Boys or Brandywines or Box Cars. You will not find me in the kitchen processing quarts and quarts of stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, or tomato purée, enough to feed a small village through the winter. I am not that girl. However, I do crave summer tomatoes all year long, and to be sure I get my fix, I slow-roast lots of plum tomatoes and stash them in the freezer. When I run out, as I often do, I slow-roast in the winter, too.

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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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