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June 25, 2014

Spaghetti squash with spicy marinara sauce and chickpeas {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Spaghetti squash with spicy marinara sauce and chickpeas.

Lately I've been on a spaghetti squash kick, and I did a quick search to learn more about this vegetable that's such a recent addition to my repertoire. Spaghetti squash, also called vegetable squash, noodle squash, or -- get this -- squaghetti, is a winter squash low in calories, and high in Vitamin A, potassium, and beta carotene. It has no strong taste of its own, so it pairs well with sauces, spices and more aggressive ingredients that bring their own flavor. You can serve spaghetti squash just as you'd serve spaghetti, and that's what I've done in this recipe. A simple meatless marinara sauce, bumped up with red pepper flakes and tossed with chickpeas and parmesan cheese, makes this as Italian as you're likely to find in any restaurant. All that's missing are the pasta carbs and calories.

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June 12, 2014

Quick and easy slow-roasted tomato, mozzarella, pine nut and basil flatbread pizza {vegetarian}

Slow-roasted tomato flatbread pizza, with mozzarella cheese, pine nuts and basil. #pizza

As easy as it is to make great flatbread pizza, there's a trick to it, and you know me: I'm not going to hold out on you. The secret is not in the bread, because any flatbread will work. Pita bread, garlic naan, spinach tortillas, or my new favorite whole wheat flatbreads (I found these, by FlatOut, in the supermarket in my village) all provide a thin, crispy base. The secret is not in the cheese, which should be fresh and mild. It's not in the garlicky-sweet slow-roasted tomato, which you can pull out of your freezer (or use oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes). No, to make a great pizza, what you need is patience, because the pizza needs to sit for five or six minutes after it comes out of the oven. You're going to want to bite into it right away, but please don't; pizza needs time to regroup, and if you're going to top it with fresh herbs (and at this time of year, why wouldn't you?), the herbs will turn black and wilt if you add them to a hot-from-the-oven pizza. That's it. That's the trick. Have patience, and great flatbread pizza will be yours.

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June 10, 2014

Greek shrimp, feta, lemon and basil couscous salad

Greek shrimp, feta, lemon and basil salad recipe: all the wonderful flavors of Greece. #salad #couscous #shrimp

The combination of flavors in this salad -- feta, lemon, basil, olives -- transports the armchair traveler in me to a taverna in Greece, where I imagine myself sitting at a round iron-legged café table overlooking the Mediterranean, sipping ouzo in the low afternoon sun. Luckily, this simple summer recipe tastes every bit as good if you're enjoying it on your own front porch. Israeli couscous -- not Greek, but from the other side of the Mediterranean -- is a small pasta that's toasted, which gives it a firm texture; if you can't find it in your market, use regular couscous, fregula sarda, or orzo or another small pasta. The lemon dressing gets its balance from Greek seasoning, a blend of oregano, lemon zest, salt and pepper I discovered a few years ago on a visit to The Spice House in Chicago. The basil in this salad came from my own herb garden, the first aromatic leaves of the season. Greece is lovely, but home can be quite tasty, too.

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May 18, 2014

Slow cooker chunky marinara sauce, with tomatoes, bell pepper and onions {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Slow cooker chunky marinara sauce recipe, with any kind of pasta. #pasta #vegetarian

Two weeks ago my husband Ted spent a few days battling a nasty Spring cold. I plied him with soup, soup and more soup, but there came a moment when neither of us could stand the sight of another bowl of it. With comfort food on my mind, I ransacked the pantry and found all of the ingredients for this recipe, a very traditional meatless marinara sauce. I tossed everything into the slow cooker for six hours; then I added the magic ingredient, the rind from a small wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and continued to cook the sauce for an additional two hours. (For a vegan sauce, simply omit the cheese rind.) You can make this marinara recipe exactly the same way in a Dutch oven on the stovetop, except that you'll have to stir occasionally to keep the sauce from sticking. Pour the sauce over a bowl of spaghetti or gluten-free pasta, top with more parmesan cheese, and let the comforting begin.

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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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