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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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December 3, 2013

Peanut oil (Recipe: latkes/potato pancakes) {vegetarian}

First published in December 2009, this updated ingredient post features new links and tweaks to the recipe. Even though we associate latkes with Chanukah, they're a crowd pleaser at any time of year. Make small ones for your Sunday football parties, or large ones for a vegetarian dinner main dish. Kids love latkes smothered with sour cream or apple sauce.

Latkes (potato pancakes): appetizer, side dish, or main course.

Rudolf Diesel had a dream.

When the German inventor and Utopian idealist demonstrated his new engine at the 1900 Paris World Exposition, it ran not on petroleum, but on peanut oil.   

In the perfect world, Diesel believed, renewable biofuels like peanut oil could power farm machinery and automobiles. In our imperfect world, my car still drinks gasoline, but peanut oil powers my frying.

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September 24, 2013

Recipe for roasted green beans and potatoes with creamy sesame dressing {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Roasted green beans and potatoes with creamy sesame dressing.

A new-to-the-blog reader, who happens to live nearby in Rhode Island, mentioned recently that she's been reluctant to try some ethnic recipes because she doesn't believe in single-purpose ingredients. Of course that's the premise behind this site, to use what's in our pantries in more than one way.  This recipe for roasted green beans and potatoes with creamy sesame dressing proves the point. If you have a tin of tahini (sesame paste) in your pantry, odds are you're planning to make hummus. I love hummus, and I've shared recipes for asparagus, lemon-onion, and roasted red pepper and garlic hummus, but there's so much more you can do with tahini. Like peanut butter, which makes a good substitute, nutty tahini blends with tangy ingredients like buttermilk, lemon or yogurt to make wonderful and unexpected salad dressings and sauces with Middle Eastern flair. Use any vegetables you have on hand; I like beans and potatoes, but bell pepper, onion, broccoli, zucchini or eggplant -- or all of them together -- also would be delicious in this recipe.

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September 10, 2013

Recipe for barley, artichoke, sun-dried tomato and feta salad with zahtar dressing {vegetarian}

Barley, artichoke, sun-dried tomato and feta salad.

For years -- well, for decades -- I cooked barley only one way: in soup, with mushrooms and carrots and rich beef or chicken stock. So I missed out on decades of amazing warm and cold barley salads, and now I'm making up for lost time. Or for lost tastes. This barley, artichoke, sun-dried tomato and feta salad came together after a quick pantry raid and a short hop to the herb garden for some of the curly parsley I'm growing this year for the first time. The strong, salty flavors of the artichokes, tomato and cheese, plus the lemony flavor of a zahtar-based dressing, provide just the right counterpoint to the creamy barley. For a vegan salad, omit the cheese, and add some kalamata olives.

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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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