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July 30, 2014

White beans with shrimp, basil, and slow-roasted tomatoes {gluten-free}

White beans, shrimp, basil, garlicky roasted tomatoes: comfort food! #glutenfree

A well-stocked pantry + an herb garden + zero motivation to leave the house on a hot and sticky day = this magical bowl of garlicky white beans with shrimp and basil. Every couple of weeks, I cook a large batch of beans in my pressure cooker, so I've always got some on hand (you can use canned beans for this recipe, too). There's shrimp in the freezer, basil in the garden, and slow-roasted tomatoes packed in baggies, ready to go. (Watch me make slow-roasted tomatoes in my new e-book, 25 Tomatoes.) The magic comes from a little pinch of red pepper flakes that kicks up the flavor, without adding a lot of heat. This comfort food recipe is going into permanent rotation in my kitchen, for quick and easy worknight dinners. It's amazing what you can create with an almost-perfect pantry.

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July 27, 2014

Grilled chicken, zucchini and nectarine spinach salad with honey-lime dressing {gluten-free}

Grilled chicken, zucchini and nectarine spinach salad, tossed with honey-lime dressing. #glutenfree

Our grill died. It was not a death with drama (no flames, no explosion); the poor thing just faded away, perhaps from working too hard, and because we're planning to move later this year, my husband Ted and I decided to face this summer without a grill. Instead, I've been using my panini press, and that's how I grilled the chicken, zucchini halves, and nectarine chunks for this salad. A cast iron stovetop grill pan would work just as well. First, cook the chicken breasts, and while they are resting, throw the zucchini and nectarine cut side down on the hot grill and sear them until you have nice grill marks, just about two or three minutes. Chop everything into same-size chunks, and tie it all together with honey-lime dressing you can make far in advance. The warm chicken and vegetables will help to wilt the spinach leaves a bit, without rendering them a soggy mess. Peaches make a fine substitute for nectarines, and yellow or patty pan squash can stand in for zucchini. You can use shrimp in place of chicken, too. This is a great salad for picnics or potlucks.

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July 16, 2014

Slow cooker shredded hoisin beef, for sandwiches, sliders, or lettuce wraps

Slow cooker shredded beef wrapped in lettuce leaves: sweet and light.

Although the kitchen has been hot, hot, hot for the past few weeks, I'm keeping my cool, with a little help from the slow cooker. In the summer, I eat cold salads more often than not, but when I do cook, I make enough to stash in the freezer, to carry me through the dog days. This shredded hoisin beef appeals to eaters of all ages, it freezes perfectly, and it's a flexible filling for sandwiches or sliders, or light and lean lettuce wraps, depending on who wants what. Hoisin sauce contains sugar, and though rice vinegar cuts the sweetness a bit, we still call this "hoisin beef candy" in our house. When you're slow cooking to shred, please try my technique of cutting the meat into quarters, and browning each piece on all sides. With more surface area, the edges get nice and "burnt", almost like barbecue. The lip-smacking sweet sauce will dribble down your chin, also just like barbecue. Top sandwiches or wraps with some raw crunchy vegetables (I like radishes and carrots) for contrast.

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July 13, 2014

Couscous with broccoli, peas, mushrooms and tomato {vegan}

Israeli couscous with broccoli, peas, mushrooms and tomatoes. #vegan

My friend Jennifer, who used to take cooking classes from me, never cooked the same dish twice, and I always thought that was a little bit nuts. After all, how do you get good at something if you don't make it more than once? Food blogging gives you the opportunity to keep trying new things, but when you've been at it as long as I have, it also gives you the push to revisit some recipes and tweak them to perfection. This vegan couscous with broccoli, peas, mushrooms and tomato was ripe for an update. My supermarket now carries "rainbow" Israeli couscous, with vegetable-tinted grains of orange and green; I've finally discovered a store-bought vegetable broth I really like; and I love the addition of peas. For non-vegans, add some poached shrimp, chunks of feta cheese, or shredded rotisserie chicken. The dish tastes best at room temperature, which makes it perfect for a picnic.

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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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