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February 1, 2015

Thai pineapple fried rice {vegetarian}

Thai pineapple fried rice, with curry, cashews and raisins.

The continuing process of pantry downsizing and clean-out, in preparation for our move from country to city in a couple of weeks, has energized my cooking. Recently, my cleaning yielded a huge bag of jasmine rice (who knew?) and an almost equally large bag of curry powder, never opened. When a grocery delivery came with a free pineapple, I took it as a sign, and began to pull together the rest of the ingredients for this Thai fried rice. Although the dish typically contains fish sauce, I used soy sauce to keep it vegetarian. (For gluten-free, substitute tamari or other gluten-free soy sauce.) If you have time, make the rice ahead, and refrigerate it for a few hours, or overnight, or days in advance; you'll have a much less gluey fried rice. Canned pineapple (not in syrup) can swap in for fresh, and currants can stand in for raisins. Like all fried rice variations, this one is flexible; it's the combination of soy (or fish) sauce with curry powder that sets it apart.

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January 25, 2015

Pressure cooker chickpea gremolata with green olives, pine nuts and raisins {vegan, gluten-free}

Chickpea gremolata with olives and raisins #vegan #glutenfree

Other than in hummus, chickpeas don't turn me on. Or they didn't, until I tried this chickpea gremolata and pumped it up with pine nuts and raisins and green olives. This dish was the kind of perfect storm that can occur when you have a perfect pantry: a long-forgotten gift package of dried chickpeas discovered on the back shelf of the cupboard; a bag of giant mixed raisins from Trader Joe's; and a pressure cooker standing empty. The best thing about this dish is the texture of the chickpeas. Without any presoaking, add the dry chickpeas to the pressure cooker, and what comes out is not in the least bit mushy or overcooked, without any canned-chickpea aftertaste. Then, toss those un-mushy chickpeas with robust fresh ingredients for a quick marriage of sweet and salty and olive oil and heat. Divine.

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January 18, 2015

Turkey, brie, roasted red pepper and arugula panini with honey mustard sauce

Turkey, creamy brie, roasted red pepper, spicy arugula: piled into one great sandwich!

Nothing, but nothing, beats a really great grilled cheese sandwich. If you've seen the movie Chef, you know how much of an event a grilled cheese sandwich can be. Like the dad in the movie, my father was our family's official grilled cheese master, carefully buttering white bread, precisely positioning a few square slices of yellow cheese, pressing it flat under a plate in a frying pan on the stove, tending it until the bread turned perfectly golden. Well, that was a bit of heaven to me. Nowadays my grilled cheese creations tend to end up in the panini press, and there's usually more between the pieces of bread than just one type of cheese. Greens, meats, multiple cheeses, roasted vegetables: anything goes. In this sandwich, the honey-mustard sauce marries the mild turkey and cheese with the spicy arugula and red pepper. You can swap rotisserie chicken for the turkey.

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January 14, 2015

Pan-seared tuna burger with Sriracha mayonnaise

Spicy Sriracha sauce kicks up this pan-seared tuna burger.

Photography not being my strong suit, the only way I can convince you that these tuna burgers are lick-the-plate good is to confess that two of us ate enough for four, and probably would have kept going if I'd made a larger batch. Everything except the fresh tuna comes right from the pantry, making these burgers quick and easy for weeknight dinners or weekend lunch. For sliders, divide the tuna mixture into eight patties insead of four. If you're like me and get mad cravings for Sriracha, you'll love the spicy sauce slathered on top of each burger. Although you can cook these on a grill or panini press, a stovetop frying pan works best, because fish burgers are a bit delicate and like to be settled on a flat surface. When you're in the mood for a burger but want something lighter and healthier than beef, this recipe will surely satisfy.

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December 28, 2014

Mango-jalapeño turkey meatballs

Healthy baked mango-jalapeno turkey meatballs. #appetizer

For the past few years, before he retired, my husband Ted spent several nights each week in Boston, where he had no kitchen save for a tiny fridge and microwave. So, for the past few years, I would cook on the weekends and send him off for the week with bags and containers of frozen food, including tons of turkey meatballs. Ted's favorite way to eat them was in a bowl of crispy salad, which I have to admit tasted pretty good. One week, I hadn't cooked anything, and he'd run out of frozen meatballs, so we headed to the market and found mango-jalapeño chicken meatballs. Oh, so good. After all, they were loaded with sweet mango and brown sugar! I decided to adapt the concept to my basic turkey meatball formula, by adding a bit more heat and reducing the sugar. Ted loved these little sweet-hot meatballs in his salad; I served them as an appetizer, alongside chunks of crunchy jicama. I think they'd make a great starter at a New Year's Eve party. Look for cans of mango nectar in the Latin foods aisle at the grocery store.

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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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