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February 4, 2014

Recipe for potato, onion and blue cheese frittata {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Potato, onion and blue cheese frittata (The Perfect Pantry).

A blizzard can be a cook's best friend. Trapped in the house, with only my pantry and whatever I can scrounge in the refrigerator, I do some of my best, and most relaxed, cooking. On the day I made this frittata -- a kind of omelet finished under the broiler, to give it a bit of a crusty top -- I found a small piece of Stilton cheese left over from our New Year's Eve celebration with friends (thanks, Mary), and a couple of red-skinned new potatoes that were no longer brand new. Of course I always have eggs and onions, and soon enough, this frittata came to life. Use your favorite blue cheese, strong or mild. If blue cheese isn't your thing, try feta or goat cheese, or whatever you have on the day the snow strands you indoors. Be sure to use a frying pan that's oven-safe (no handles that will melt).

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January 14, 2014

Bay leaves (Recipe: pasta e fagiole) {vegetarian}

First published in December 2007, this updated ingredient post includes new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. Pasta e fagiole (called "pasta fazool" in some parts of New England) falls happily into the meal-in-a-bowl category. Make it ahead, and freeze it for easy worknight dinners; just add some crusty bread, a light green salad, and a glass of wine.

Pasta e fagiole (bean soup with pasta), from The Perfect Pantry.

In 1988, Richard Wilbur was asked in an interview whether, in his role as the United States' second poet laureate, he had to wear a laurel wreath. ''I wouldn't wear it outdoors because it would fall off when I played tennis,'' he answered, but he said that he might get a wreath made of bay leaves, which is a species of laurel. That way, he added, ''When I bowed my head to say grace, I could also season the soup.''

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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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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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