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July 20, 2014

Cucumber salad with roasted lemon, mint and basil dressing {vegan, gluten-free}

Thinly sliced cucumber dressed with roasted lemon, mint and basil. #vegan #glutenfree

What happens when you roast a lemon? It morphs from a fruit that's impossibly sour, to one that's improbably sweet. Squeeze the juice from that sweet lemon and blend it with bright, fresh herbs and fruity olive oil, and you create a salad dressing that's a little bit magical. For this simple salad, I sliced a seedless English cucumber into paper-thin slices on the mandoline, drizzled it with the dressing, and let it sit for 15 minutes so some of the dressing seeped into the cucumber. Try this with zucchini, or beets, or thin slices of boiled potato, or nectarines. I had some dressing left over, and slathered it on grilled salmon -- and yes, it was perfect.

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July 19, 2014

The Pantry Quiz #96

Four herbs

Photo ID

What do four herbs of the herbs in this picture of my garden have in common? (Hint: it's musical.)

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July 16, 2014

Slow cooker shredded hoisin beef, for sandwiches, sliders, or lettuce wraps

Slow cooker shredded beef wrapped in lettuce leaves: sweet and light.

Although the kitchen has been hot, hot, hot for the past few weeks, I'm keeping my cool, with a little help from the slow cooker. In the summer, I eat cold salads more often than not, but when I do cook, I make enough to stash in the freezer, to carry me through the dog days. This shredded hoisin beef appeals to eaters of all ages, it freezes perfectly, and it's a flexible filling for sandwiches or sliders, or light and lean lettuce wraps, depending on who wants what. Hoisin sauce contains sugar, and though rice vinegar cuts the sweetness a bit, we still call this "hoisin beef candy" in our house. When you're slow cooking to shred, please try my technique of cutting the meat into quarters, and browning each piece on all sides. With more surface area, the edges get nice and "burnt", almost like barbecue. The lip-smacking sweet sauce will dribble down your chin, also just like barbecue. Top sandwiches or wraps with some raw crunchy vegetables (I like radishes and carrots) for contrast.

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July 13, 2014

Couscous with broccoli, peas, mushrooms and tomato {vegan}

Israeli couscous with broccoli, peas, mushrooms and tomatoes. #vegan

My friend Jennifer, who used to take cooking classes from me, never cooked the same dish twice, and I always thought that was a little bit nuts. After all, how do you get good at something if you don't make it more than once? Food blogging gives you the opportunity to keep trying new things, but when you've been at it as long as I have, it also gives you the push to revisit some recipes and tweak them to perfection. This vegan couscous with broccoli, peas, mushrooms and tomato was ripe for an update. My supermarket now carries "rainbow" Israeli couscous, with vegetable-tinted grains of orange and green; I've finally discovered a store-bought vegetable broth I really like; and I love the addition of peas. For non-vegans, add some poached shrimp, chunks of feta cheese, or shredded rotisserie chicken. The dish tastes best at room temperature, which makes it perfect for a picnic.

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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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