When you set out to create a new recipe, where do you start? Seasonality of the ingredients? Color? Shape? Texture? Sweet versus tart? All of the above? In the case of this easy pan-made farro with butternut squash and pears and dried cranberries and feta, I began with pears so ripe and ready for action that they practically jumped into the frying pan. I diced and sautéed those pears along with a bit of leftover peeled butternut squash, added some of my new favorite ten-minute farro, and the dish began to come together. Tart feta cheese balanced the sweet fruit, and some acidity from the dressing brought everything together. Intended as a side dish, it became an irresistible main course, perfect for a meatless lunch.... Read more →


When readers of my old soup blog asked me for bouktouf, I winced just a little bit. The recipe for this Algerian vegan soup calls for two bunches of cilantro, and I am one of those people to whom cilantro tastes like soap. It turns out that the bright orange color isn't the only surprising thing about this soup; the addition of a large amount of lemon juice tames the flavor of the cilantro, in a good way, and gives the soup a lovely freshness. Here's the original recipe from The Soup Peddler's Slow & Difficult Soups, word for word (because nobody could improve on it). I halved the recipe and ended up with five cups of soup, which I cooked in a Dutch oven.... Read more →


The idea for this rustic fish and fennel pot pie came to me in a dream, and unless you are Sigmund Freud (you're not, are you?), I'm not going to bore you with the details. Somewhere in the dream, I was planning a menu for La Vigilia, the traditional Italian Christmas Eve feast of seven fishes, which in real life I don't celebrate, so I'm sure it wasn't real. One of the dishes on my imaginary menu was a fish pot pie, and if I were making this for La Vigilia, I'd stuff it with several kinds of fish, and perhaps some shrimp or scallops, too. A brightly flavored bulb of fennel will make a real difference, but if you don't like the anise overtones... Read more →


I've got a secret. During the past few weeks, for many house guests, friends and family, I have been creating the World's. Best. Sandwiches. Ever. Now I feel badly that I've kept this from you for so long, and I'm here to make amends. I can't put my finger on what makes these sandwiches (panini, really) so remarkable. Could it be the caramelized onions? The home-cooked corned beef? The quick and easy cole slaw? The slices of Swiss cheese? Or could it be all of that forced together under the weight of the panini press, until the layers fuse and the cheese begins to ooze? I don't know for sure, but what I do know is that, once you've tasted this sandwich, you'll never go... Read more →


After ten years of soup recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, do you still need proof that combining any fresh ingredient -- fruit, vegetables, sausage or leftover turkey -- with a well-stocked pantry will produce a very fine soup? You can do it, and do it without a recipe; the secret is to be fearless and plunge right in. That's the way this sausage and black bean soup started out, but it ended up being so good that I'm glad I took notes as I was making it, so you can replicate it in your own kitchen. The soup began with the gift from my cousin of a couple of packages of Al Fresco Chipotle Chicken Chorizo Sausage with mango and adobo that were languishing... Read more →


Until I learned to cook, I was always a little bit afraid of chowder. I can't imagine why. Chowder began as a throw-together dish made by fishermen on the dock, using the odds and ends of what they had caught. So, really, how complicated could it be? Not difficult at all, as it turns out. Sauté aromatic vegetables in fat (butter or bacon fat), add flour to make a roux, pour in some stock, and when it thickens, add the fish. You can use any fish, or a combination of fish, or fish plus shellfish. I buy packages of frozen cod chunks at Trader Joe's. If you have clam stock or fish stock, substitute it for the chicken stock. You can make chowder with any... Read more →


This sausage, pepper and mushroom frittata -- quick and easy to make -- takes inspiration from one of New England's favorite Italian-American sandwiches. It's a great combination that makes a filling main course. Read more →