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May 15, 2014

Pasta with Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, onions and bell pepper in white wine mustard sauce {vegetarian}

Pasta with Brussels sprouts, mushrooms and bell pepper in a white wine mustard sauce. #pasta

Somewhere in the world, there's a retail marketing genius I need to thank. I don't know who came up with the idea to thinly slice Brussels sprouts and sell them in a bag in the produce department of my local supermarket, but my hat's off to that person. Although I've never been crazy about whole Brussels sprouts, I've incorporated these shaved sprouts in lots of recipes, like this Brussels sprouts and bacon quiche and Brussels and broccoli with maple vinaigrette. All it takes is a quick rinse, and a trim of any woody stems, and you have ready-to-cook tender bits of Brussels sprouts. For this dish, use any long noodle like spaghetti or angel hair pasta; I've used curly ramen noodles, just for fun. Wouldn't this be a perfect recipe for Meatless Monday?

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April 8, 2014

Recipe for orzo and shrimp salad with asparagus, bell peppers and feta cheese

Orzo and shrimp salad with asparagus, bell peppers and feta cheese. #salad

At our local discount store, Ocean State Job Lot, you never know what you'll find: garden hoses, fleece pajamas, super-cheap small appliances, chlorine pool tablets. As random (and fun) as the shopping can be, there are a few constants; the store stocks the entire line of Bob's Red Mill products, plus foods from around the world like pastas, nuts and spices. On a recent trip, I found whole wheat orzo, and that's what inspired this shrimp salad. I put it together with gently cooked shrimp and asparagus, out-of-season but too tempting to pass by at the supermarket. My "house" vinaigrette, of which there's always a jar in my refrigerator, pulled it all together. As good as this was on the day I made it, the leftovers were equally good the following day, and it will be a perfect salad for picnics in warmer weather.

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February 11, 2014

Spicy rice noodle stir-fry recipe

Spicy rice noodle stir fry.

When I first encountered banh pho dried rice noodles -- the noodles often sold as pad Thai noodles, or rice vermicelli -- I thought they were, well... astonishing. After a brief soak in a bowl of warm water, these brittle, opaque noodles got tossed directly into a wok -- no boiling, can you imagine? -- where the heat softened them to chewy perfection in just a minute or two. Wow. Everything, sauce and noodles, cooked in the same pot, and that made a believer out of me. The noodles have no real flavor of their own, and happily soak up any sauce and spices that surround them. This recipe is a template for all kinds of rice noodle stir-fry dishes. Swap turkey, chicken or pork for the beef; add snow peas or bok choy, or any vegetables you have on hand. Banh pho keeps in the pantry cupboard for a year or more, and offers a easy, inexpensive, gluten-free alternative to wheat noodles.

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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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