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June 10, 2014

Greek shrimp, feta, lemon and basil couscous salad

Greek shrimp, feta, lemon and basil salad recipe: all the wonderful flavors of Greece. #salad #couscous #shrimp

The combination of flavors in this salad -- feta, lemon, basil, olives -- transports the armchair traveler in me to a taverna in Greece, where I imagine myself sitting at a round iron-legged café table overlooking the Mediterranean, sipping ouzo in the low afternoon sun. Luckily, this simple summer recipe tastes every bit as good if you're enjoying it on your own front porch. Israeli couscous -- not Greek, but from the other side of the Mediterranean -- is a small pasta that's toasted, which gives it a firm texture; if you can't find it in your market, use regular couscous, fregula sarda, or orzo or another small pasta. The lemon dressing gets its balance from Greek seasoning, a blend of oregano, lemon zest, salt and pepper I discovered a few years ago on a visit to The Spice House in Chicago. The basil in this salad came from my own herb garden, the first aromatic leaves of the season. Greece is lovely, but home can be quite tasty, too.

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June 8, 2014

Traditional New England crab cakes

New England crab cakes taste best with a spicy aioli mayonnaise sauce.

When I stopped at my local fish market to buy some crab meat, I asked the fishmonger what he had available. He told me had frozen crabmeat, and when I inquired whether I'd have to pick it over to get out little pieces of shell, he shot me a look and said, "This crab meat is without equal." How could I pass that up? He was absolutely right, and the crab, which is not local to New Engand though we have made crab cakes our own, was plump and sweet, and clean. This recipe, which I got many years ago from my friend Jennifer, makes eight large crab cakes, which would be a perfect lunch for four people, or a dozen smaller bite-size treats for appetizers. Tartar sauce or aioli mayonnaise make the perfect slathering sauce.

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June 3, 2014

Coconut peanut rice bowl with turkey, broccoli and mushrooms {gluten-free}

Rice bowl with turkey, broccoli and mushrooms in a coconut peanut sauce. #glutenfree

Early in my adult life, I realized I don't have the rice-cooking gene. No amount of measuring, and rinsing, and simmering, and steaming will help me produce a perfectly cooked pot of rice. I have proved to be equally inept with white rice, brown rice, basmati and jasmine rice, though I can make a pretty great pot of risotto. For everyday rice, I rely on my little electronic rice cooker, which never lets me down. (I use it for quinoa, too.) I like to make as much as the rice cooker will hold, and keep leftover rice in the refrigerator to make dishes like this coconut peanut rice bowl recipe, which I created for Lynne, my friend Bev's daughter, who eats gluten-free and dairy-free. You can make this recipe vegan by omitting the turkey and adding more vegetables, and make it spicier with a squirt or two of Sriracha sauce.

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May 29, 2014

Shrimp and coconut curry noodle soup

Shrimp and coconut curry noodle soup recipe. #soup

My pantry might not be 100 percent perfect, but it seldom lets me down. The cupboards, fridge and freezer harbor lots of great stuff, and when I'm in the mood to play in the kitchen, I can find inspiration on every single shelf. That's how this shrimp and coconut curry noodle soup recipe came together. Craving a bowl of tom kha gai, the popular Thai chicken coconut soup, I foraged in the pantry. In the freezer, I found shrimp instead of chicken. There was plenty of red curry paste (there always is), and coconut milk, and scallions from the garden. With the addition of some thin fideo noodles that I usually use for Middle Eastern rice pilaf, I borrowed some mushrooms bought for a different recipe, and I had my soup. A word of caution: start slowly with the red curry paste; you can always add more. I might have made my soup just a bit spicier than the recipe indicates.

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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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