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July 9, 2014

Shakshuka: eggs in fiery tomato sauce {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Shakshuka, a Tunisian-Israeli dish of eggs poached in a fiery tomato sauce.

My recipe for this popular Tunisian-Israeli vegetarian dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato and bell pepper sauce is the second-best shakshuka I've ever tasted. The best, the very best, my husband Ted, cousin Martin and I practically inhaled at breakfast at The Gingerbread in Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica, where Eyal Ben-Menachem, the Israeli chef-owner, works his magic. (I'm sharing the secret to Eyal's recipe in my new e-cookbook, 25 Tomatoes, which comes out next week.) Even though I'm admitting my shakshuka is second-best, it's really pretty great, and I use ingredients you already have in your pantry. The one requirement is heat, in some form: chile peppers (fresh or canned), chile powder, hot smoked paprika. It's up to you, and your heat tolerance. If you're serving shakshuka for breakfast, as is traditional, you might want the sauce mildly spicy; on those breakfast-for-dinner days, kick the heat up by adding more red pepper flakes, a pinch of cayenne, or even a few shakes of hot sauce. The recipe yields enough sauce for six people; make the whole batch, and keep any leftover in your freezer for a super quick worknight supper or weekend brunch. Serve with slices of toasted crusty bread, for mopping up the sauce.

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February 25, 2014

Recipe for roasted chickpea salad with creamy tahini dressing {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Roasted chickpea salad (deconstructed hummus!), from The Perfect Pantry

HERE'S THE THING: I love hummus -- the creamy, garlicky, nutty Middle Eastern spread made with chickpeas and tahini -- but I don't really love chickpeas. It's got to be a texture issue because, well... I love hummus. So, a couple of weeks ago I had the idea to take hummus apart and put it back together, to see if I could combine all of the flavors I love in a dish that would help me love chickpeas, and what I created was this simple salad. Roasting the chickpeas gave them just enough crunch to change the texture but not the flavor, and all the remaining components of hummus went into the dressing. I added some crisp chopped iceberg lettuce, which seemed perfect. You could keep going and pile on more fixings like olives, tomatoes and cucumber, to make a main course salad.

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February 9, 2014

Cayenne pepper (Recipe: doro wot, Ethiopian chicken in red pepper sauce) {gluten-free}

Originally published in November 2006, this updated ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. In the way that pad Thai is often the first dish people try at a Thai restaurant, doro wot might be the most popular dish at Ethiopian restaurants in America. It's great for parties.

Doro wot (Ethiopian chicken in red pepper sauce), from The Perfect Pantry.

Twenty or so years ago, the City of Boston, in a brief spate of urban beautification that would have made Lady Bird Johnson proud, bestowed upon us a Norway maple sapling to fill the empty tree hole in the brick sidewalk in front of our house.

We loved that little tree. So did every dog in the neighborhood.

To discourage the small gifts those dogs left us (in the days before pooper-scoopering was mandatory), we sprinkled cayenne pepper around the tree hole. It worked. Every so often we'd hear a little sneeze... and we'd watch a very surprised puppy move along, perhaps to find a kinder and gentler tree hole.

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February 6, 2014

Instant couscous (Recipe: sweet couscous for a crowd) {vegetarian}

Originally published in August 2006, this updated ingredient post features new photos and links. The recipe -- so simple, I feel funny calling it a recipe -- is something I've been making for decades. It's a perfect accompaniment to spicy chicken or vegetable stews.

Sweet couscous with raisins and pine nuts (The Perfect Pantry).

Last winter, I treated my kitchen to a couscoussier, a double-decker pot used to create traditional Moroccan stews and couscous. The stew goes in the bottom, and rising steam infuses and plumps the couscous resting in the perforated top compartment.

It's a beautiful thing, but I have yet to use it.

I tried. I really did. My cooking group made a menu called Preserving the Lemon, which included three dishes inspired by Moroccan cuisine. We used our tagines, but when it came time to set up the couscoussier — and start the slow process of rinsing, drying, steaming and steaming again — we looked at each other and, in unison, said, "Instant couscous!"

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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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