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July 29, 2015

Greek chicken chopped salad with creamy poppy seed dressing {gluten-free}

Add shredded Greek-flavored chicken to this crisp chopped salad for a meal-in-a-bowl.

One of my pet peeves is a recipe that requires you to make another recipe first (remember the beloved China Moon cookbook, filled with recipes composed of sauces you needed to make before you even got started?). Yet here I am, asking that very thing of you. Forgive me. If you didn't make a batch of shredded slow cooker Greek chicken right away when I shared the recipe last week, you can do it now, or substitute rotisserie chicken or even grilled shrimp in this chopped salad. Or, omit the protein and have yourself a dandy meatless salad. However, trust me when I tell you that the Greek chicken absolutely makes this dish. The hints of lemon and garlic work their way all through the salad, balanced by the sweet poppy seed dressing. It's irresistible. And you can freeze leftover chicken for roll-ups, salads or pasta dishes at another time. My husband Ted and I make the whole salad recipe, and the two of us eat every bit of it for our main course dinner. It's that good.

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July 22, 2015

Burgers, burgers, burgers! The Perfect Pantry's favorites for summer grilling

Nothing beats an old-fashioned cheeseburger!

Nothing tops a juicy cheeseburger cooked to perfection on the grill. Nothing. I'm pretty sure I'd opt for a burger over my favorite jambalaya or garlic chicken skewers for my last meal. I love turkey burgers, and salmon burgers, and the occasional veggie burger, but at heart I'm a purist and adore my dribble-down-the-chin beef burgers. However, when it comes to toppings, I'm open to new ideas. Salsa and avocado, feta cheese, hummus -- I'll try it. How about you? Are you open-minded when it comes to burgers?

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July 19, 2015

Slow cooker Greek chicken roll-ups with tomato, olives and feta cheese

Shredded Greek chicken, made easy in the slow cooker, piles into tortilla wraps with tomato, olives and feta.

For the past three months, I've made a batch of this slow cooker Greek chicken at least once a week. From the first bite, it's been a family favorite, used for filling pitas, mixing in salads, or topping a pizza. The method is simple: start building flavor with Greek seasoning (my favorite Greektown "Billygoat" Seasoning comes from The Spice House) and then add more of each of the individual ingredients like oregano, lemon zest, and pepper to bump up it up even more. Bind the ingredients together with a bit of olive oil, and let the slow cooker do the rest. A quick shredding with two forks (or, as one of my readers suggested, a whir in the KitchenAid stand mixer) yields a large batch of ready-to-use or ready-to-freeze chicken. I love to toss some of this shredded chicken into a baby kale salad, with poppyseed or vinaigrette dressing, or into a chopped vegetable Greek salad. For picnics, roll-ups made with colorful spinach and tomato tortillas are lots of fun, easy to pack and transport, and everyone loves them.

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July 12, 2015

Quick and easy chicken and corn chowder

Quick and easy chicken and corn chowder really is a meal in a bowl!

Here in the Northeast, we love our chowder all year long. I'm partial to traditional New England clam chowder, packed with fresh clams and chopped potatoes swimming in a creamy base, and I love a fish variation, with chunks of cod and whatever is fresh at the market. (I've heard there is a red chowder, made with tomatoes, from a very large city southwest of Boston with a rival baseball team. We don't speak of it.) Although chowder usually contains seafood, we New Englanders make allowances for people who cannot, or prefer not to, eat fish or shellfish. Corn, abundant in the summer, often stands in for clams, and brings its own sweetness to the chowder. In this recipe, I omit the potatoes and add some chopped rotisserie chicken. It's a great combination that turns the soup into a complete meal-in-a-bowl. A roux made right in with the vegetables thickens the soup; you can substitute gluten-free flour to make the chowder gluten-free. Serve some crusty bread or salty crackers on the side.

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July 5, 2015

Smoky egg salad lettuce boats with caramelized onions {vegetarian}

Smoky egg salad lettuce boats, a picnic-perfect twist on the classic.

When it comes to egg salad, I'm a straight-up gal. Hard-boiled eggs, really good mayonnaise, black pepper, and nothing more. Oh, occasionally I'll toss in a bit of celery. Perfection. And yet... sometimes, I have to cut loose, and when I do, I turn to my spice rack and pantry for inspiration. The combination of eggs and caramelized onions takes me back to childhood, when my grandmother used to combine the two with chopped liver for the classic Jewish appetizer. I think if she'd had smoked paprika on hand (I'm sure she never heard of it), she might have added a pinch of that as well, because I love how just the tiniest bit of smoky pepper plays off the sweet onions. Depending on whether you like your egg salad with a kick, use mild or hot smoked paprika (it also comes in a bittersweet variety, which is midway between the two on the heat scale). If lettuce boats aren't your thing, stuff this egg salad into a pita or crusty roll, or fold it into a tortilla wrap. You can make all of the components a few hours (or days) ahead, and assemble at the last minute, so it's great for picnics.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives. Thanks so much for visiting.

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