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July 10, 2012

Recipe for cucumber ribbon salad with ranch-style buttermilk herb dressing {vegetarian}

Cool and refreshing cucumber ribbon salad with ranch-style buttermilk herb dressing.

Necessity -- or is it forgetfulness? or humidity? -- being the mother of invention, this cucumber ribbon salad owes its spectacular ranch-style buttermilk herb dressing to a great pantry, and to my strong desire not to drive five miles to the grocery store for a quart of buttermilk on an unbearably hazy-hot-humid day. Powdered buttermilk, a baking pantry staple that will keep perfectly happy in the refrigerator for months, contributes the characteristic tangy ranch flavor, with a boost from Greek yogurt and a small amount of mayonnaise. I like the combination of dill, parsley and chives from my garden for a vibrant herby punch. The overall result? Delicate, much more so than traditional ranch dressing. I'm planning to use the leftover dressing on grilled salmon. The cucumber salad didn't last much longer than the time it took to photograph it. I ate it for breakfast. All of it.

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July 5, 2012

Recipe for cantaloupe and yogurt soup with ginger, lime and mint {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Cantaloupe soup with ginger, lime and mint, so refreshing! #glutenfree

Once upon a time, I bought a honeydew so overripe that, when I cut into it, I discovered more juice and less solid flesh than I'd ever seen in a melon before. The juice tasted like nectar, and I couldn't bear to consign the fruit to the compost pile. It more than made up in flavor what it had lost in texture, so I thought, "Why not soup?" That first bowl, a revelation, led to many others and, eventually, to this cantaloupe and yogurt soup with ginger, lime and spearmint from my garden. If your garden gives you basil, toss a few leaves into the soup, too. Use your favorite melon, or whatever looks best at the market: casaba, crenshaw, canary, orange or yellow or green. Serve it cold, on the hottest days, for breakfast or dessert.

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March 1, 2012

Recipe for chicken and avocado lettuce boats with buttermilk Dijon dressing


Sometimes, in the bleak mid-winter when absolutely nothing is in season, you absolutely have to have a salad. Here in the northeast United States, certain foods, no matter what the time of year, always come from elsewhere, foods like avocado, lemon and olives. I'm not sure there's a season for rotisserie chicken, either. So, why not take all of these out-of-season ingredients and toss them with a great from-the-pantry dressing? For these chicken and avocado lettuce boats, I used heirloom cherry tomatoes from Trader Joe's. If you can't find decent winter tomatoes, use red bell pepper instead, for color and crunch. Close your eyes, take a bite, and you'll forget all about winter.

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January 31, 2012

Recipe for bok choy stir-fry with ginger and garlic


When I'm lucky enough to get to an Asian market (the closest is nearly 20 miles away), I steer my cart right to the produce aisles to stock up on things the grocery store in my village doesn't carry: choy sum, lemongrass, fresh bean sprouts, and my favorite baby bok choy, a miniature Chinese cabbage. You can make this stir-fry with grown-up bok choy, by trimming the head through the root into smaller wedges, but if you can find the babies, you'll love the sweeter flavor and more delicate texture. Choose heads with either white or a pale green stalks; the taste is the same, so buy whichever color coordinates with the rest of your dinner. This recipe utilizes one of my lazy-girl techniques for wok cooking: pan steaming, the same method used to make potstickers. Rather than blanching the bok choy in a separate pot, I stir-fry in the wok, then toss in a small amount of water and slap a lid on to catch the steam. The tender baby bok choy heads cook quickly this way, while absorbing the flavors of the sauce -- and I only have to wash one pan.

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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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