During a raging rain storm, when you can't work in the garden, you have time to do many things. Read a book. Take a nap. Build a fire in the fireplace. Talk to the cats. Root around in the pantry. This tomato vegetable soup with cheese ravioli is a forgiving soup. If you want to use up a bit of potato, toss it in. Fresh chives from your garden? Add a handful. Some shreds of rotisserie chicken? Sure, why not? Let Mother Nature have her temper tantrum. After all, you have a perfect pantry, and you can always make soup.
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I'm glad you can't really tell from my photographs that these turkey pesto meatball sliders look a bit, well... green-ish. Yes, the meatballs are wearin' the green for St Patrick's Day, thanks to a good bit of garlicky basil pesto that perks up both the color and the flavor. I formed the meatballs with a two-inch ice cream scoop, a perfect fit for my favorite slider buns, but they'd be equally delicious in a smaller size, tossed with some pasta, garlic and olive oil. It takes just a few minutes to make your own pesto, or you can use good-quality store-bought pesto, if that's what you have in your pantry. Like all of the many turkey meatball variations I've shared here in The Perfect Pantry, these pesto meatballs freeze well, so whip up a double batch when you have time, and store the cooked, cooled meatballs in ziploc bags for easy worknight dinners or party fare.
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After years of feeding our vegetarian kids and grandkids every possible permutation of pasta-sauce-cheese, I've been mining the pantry for new ideas. A recently discovered package of farro, purchased ages ago at one of Providence's Italian markets, inspired a main course dish that pairs this nutty, chewy grain with earthy mushrooms, crisp broccoli, crunchy almonds and salty feta. It's an explosion of taste and texture that satisfies, as an entrée for vegetarians, or a side dish with roast turkey. You can buy instant farro at Trader Joe's; it cooks in ten minutes, but the texture isn't as chewy as the regular farro that takes only a few minutes longer. In the time it takes to cook the farro, prepare all the rest of the ingredients, so the whole dish comes together in less than half an hour.
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First published in July 2006, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. I've been making these veggies for more than twenty years, and I've never tired of the fresh flavor and crunch of lightly-cooked vegetables in a pan vinaigrette. All of the ingredients are available year-round, so you can bring color to the table even in mid-winter.
Kalamata, picholine, frantoio, arbequina, souri ... I've never met an olive I didn't want to take home, but good old black olives in a can are the only ones that merit a permanent place in my pantry.
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