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September 18, 2012

Recipe for ginger-lime tuna with buckwheat (soba) noodles

Ginger lime tuna with buckwheat (soba) noodles, from The Perfect Pantry.

Do you ever have days when you want to run away from your everyday meals? Days when you don't want oatmeal or eggs or cereal for breakfast, a healthy-but-uninspired salad for lunch, or chicken and vegetables for dinner? Me, too. And on those days, the "run away" days, I head straight for my pantry, where I stash a large variety of Asian noodles for this exact type of culinary emergency. A bowl of ginger-lime tuna with buckwheat noodles pulls me right out of my mealtime rut. It hits all of the taste notes, tangy and slightly salty and umami-rich, without any spicy heat. (You could certainly add a squirt or two of Sriracha sauce. I'll never tell.) Make the dish vegan by substituting chunks of extra-firm tofu for the tuna, and make it easy by starting with pre-cooked and shelled edamame, which you can find in the produce section of many supermarkets. If you don't have soba noodles on hand, use any firm Asian noodles (ramen noodles work well, without the seasoning packet), or spaghetti.

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September 4, 2012

Bottled salad dressing (Recipe: hot roasted vegetables with couscous)

First published in April 2007, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and a few tweaks to the recipe. If you don't keep bottled salad dressing in your pantry, skip right to the recipe, which you can make with your own favorite creamy vinaigrette and any seasonal vegetables you find at the farm stand.

Hot roasted vegetables with couscous, from The Perfect Pantry.

Psssst. I've got a secret.

Paul Newman is playing peek-a-boo in my refrigerator. And he's not alone.

You'll always find three or four bottled salad dressings hiding in there with him.

These salad dressings aren't for salad; they're the best, quickest marinades in the world.

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August 28, 2012

Five favorite pasta salad recipes, for picnics or potluck

Greek pasta salad with sun-dried tomato vinaigrette, from The Perfect Pantry.

Pasta salad. The mere mention of it sends shivers up the spine of anyone who's stood on line at a buffet, and by the time they got to the pasta salad, discovered the soggy mess at the bottom of the serving bowl of overdressed noodles. Rest assured, my five favorite pasta salads in no way resemble those scary buffet dishes. No undercooked pasta, no glop at the bottom of the bowl, no slimy mouth feel. The secret? Underdress the pasta, reserving a bit of the dressing. Then, right before serving, taste the salad, and add only as much dressing as needed, and not a drop more. Now you know.

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July 29, 2012

Tomato paste (Recipe: my own meat sauce)

First published in September 2006, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and a few tweaks to the recipe. Please enjoy some fun facts about cooking with tomato paste, and the recipe for my "house special" meat sauce. In Rhode Island, we call it gravy, and we make it all year round.


My mother, like many "let's have TV dinners" cooks in the 1960s, made spaghetti sauce with Spatini, which I think was mostly a packet of salt mixed with a few flavor enhancers.

I don't blame her. After all, it was the Age of Convenience Foods, and my mother worked and didn't have a lot of time to cook. Her mother never cooked pasta, or made sauce, either, so my mother really didn't have a role model.

My own spaghetti role model was Patty, my freshman-year Italian-American roommate, who taught me to make her grandmother's sauce with canned tomatoes, onions, peppers, oregano and tomato paste. It was the perfect college meal; pasta was cheap, and the ingredients for sauce were cheap, too. And it was so easy to make the real thing.

Bye bye, Spatini.

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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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