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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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August 1, 2013

Recipe for lentil and chicken salad with raisins and feta cheese {gluten-free}

Lentils, chicken, raisins and feta: a meal in a bowl.

Lately, it's been too hot to turn on the oven or tend anything cooking on the stove. In our house, salads rule. However, not every salad begins with lettuce. This lentil and chicken salad, bumped up with chunks of crisp cucumber, sweet raisins and salty feta cheese, defines the kind of meal-in-a-bowl dishes we love, and because there's no mayonnaise, it's perfect for picnics or potluck. If your market sells pre-cooked lentils (in airtight packages, in the produce section of the store), and rotisserie chicken, this salad becomes a very easy assembly job. If you're cooking lentils and grilling a chicken breast, it's still a quick and easy summer lunch or supper. You can make the salad several hours ahead, and store in the refrigerator until it's time to serve.

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July 28, 2013

Kosher salt (Recipe: Moroccan eggplant salad) {vegan, gluten-free}

First published in May 2007, this updated ingredient post features new photos, link, and tweaks to the recipe. The eggplant salad, taught to me by a neighbor who grew up in Morocco and owned our local dry cleaning shop, is perfect for summer, when both eggplant and tomatoes come straight from the garden.

Moroccan eggplant salad with tomatoes and fresh herbs.

Is kosher salt, the darling of chefs and cookbook authors, just another flaky food fashion?

Is it saltier than table salt, better for health or baking or taste?

Is all kosher salt the same?

Is it even kosher?

Inquiring minds want to know.

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July 25, 2013

Zucchini pie recipe {vegetarian}

Zucchini pie, picnic and potluck perfect!

While testing zucchini recipes for my new e-book, 23 Zucchini: Fast, fun, easy recipes from The Perfect Pantry® kitchen, I tried some dishes that, although successful, didn't make the final cut, often because they were similar to other recipes in the book. My friend Ann first suggested I include a zucchini pie, and I read through many recipes before I stepped into the kitchen. I decided to make a pie that would hold up well for picnics and potlucks -- something a bit more sturdy than a traditional frittata or egg casserole -- and this version passes the test. It's important to squeeze as much water as you can out of the shredded zucchini before adding it to the egg batter (this short video I made for 23 Zucchini shows you an easy way to do it). If you don't, you'll end up with something more like pudding than pie. You can make this up to a day or two ahead.

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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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