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January 14, 2014

Bay leaves (Recipe: pasta e fagiole) {vegetarian}

First published in December 2007, this updated ingredient post includes new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. Pasta e fagiole (called "pasta fazool" in some parts of New England) falls happily into the meal-in-a-bowl category. Make it ahead, and freeze it for easy worknight dinners; just add some crusty bread, a light green salad, and a glass of wine.

Pasta e fagiole (bean soup with pasta), from The Perfect Pantry.

In 1988, Richard Wilbur was asked in an interview whether, in his role as the United States' second poet laureate, he had to wear a laurel wreath. ''I wouldn't wear it outdoors because it would fall off when I played tennis,'' he answered, but he said that he might get a wreath made of bay leaves, which is a species of laurel. That way, he added, ''When I bowed my head to say grace, I could also season the soup.''

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January 7, 2014

Recipe for whole wheat penne pasta with Greek red lentil, feta and olive sauce {vegetarian}

Whole wheat penne pasta with Greek red lentil feta and olive sauce, for Meatless Mondays (The Perfect Pantry).

'Twas the week after a week of holiday parties, and all through the house, nobody felt like standing over the stove, not one single person, and especially not me. And yet, people needed to eat. The pantry presented all sorts of possibilities, and before I knew it, I'd thrown together lentils and pasta and olives and feta. What evolved was this Greek-inspired pasta dish with enough protein and heft to satisfy vegetarians and meat lovers alike. Lentil sauces for pasta are more common than you'd imagine, and tossing a handful of lentils into a traditional marinara boosts the nutritional value by adding plenty of fiber. I pulled the sauce off the heat before the lentils collapsed, because I love the more rustic texture, but you can let them cook a few minutes longer and watch them melt into the tomato sauce. Opa!

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December 17, 2013

Recipe for baked samosa wontons with potato, pea and broccoli filling {vegetarian}

Baked samosa wontons filled with potatoes, peas and broccoli (The Perfect Pantry).

You've heard the saying, You never get a second chance to make a first impression. No wonder I'm always stressed when I have to prepare appetizers. Apps create excitement and anticipation, as they set the stage -- with or without drinks -- for the occasion to follow. When I serve the same old same old dips and chips, my guests are probably wondering if they're in for a ho-hum dinner. The solution to the pre-dinner blahs is a repertoire of easy, yet impressive, appetizers, like these samosa wontons. The dip is store-bought mango chutney, and the wontons are baked, not fried, so nobody starts the meal with a mouth full of grease. The traditional mashed potato and pea filling gets a kick from Madras (yellow) curry paste, which is easy to find in the Indian foods aisle of many supermarkets. You can make the filling ahead and refrigerate it. Or, make and bake the wontons ahead, and freeze them to reheat at party time. Either way, these apps, easy on the cook, will surely be a hit for your holiday entertaining.

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November 24, 2013

Sophie's noodle kugel recipe {vegetarian}

Noodle kugel, for any holiday celebration.

Judy, a longtime reader who lives in the Philadelphia area, sent me a favorite recipe for her grandmother's noodle kugel, a casserole my own grandmother used to make. I loved the note Judy wrote with the recipe, and she graciously allowed me to share it, and the recipe, with you. In the year of the Thanksgiving and Chanukah convergence, this noodle dish is a perfect addition to the holiday table, no matter which holiday you're celebrating this week:

My grandmother Sophie, who lived to be 98 years old, was an amazing cook. She spent a number of years in the 1930s and 1940s running the kitchen of a "resort" for union workers, and she never really adjusted her recipes to cook for just a few people (a tradition I seem to have continued). Grandma didn't wrote down her recipes, so I would cook with her and write down the ingredients and measurements as best I could.

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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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