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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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June 23, 2013

Recipe for chicken and egg salad with tarragon mustard vinaigrette

Chicken and egg salad with fresh tarragon, mayo-free, perfect for picnics.

Does it really matter which came first? What's important is that the chicken and the egg came together in this summery salad, tossed with a tarragon mustard vinaigrette that loves them equally. On the day I took these photographs, I made the salad with celery, the stalk plus the leaves. Had I waited a few days, I would have swapped in lovage from my herb garden. The young tarragon leaves, also from my garden, added a nice undertone of licorice; if the flavor isn't your thing, substitute fresh parsley or dill. Serve on toasted bread with some lettuce leaves, or use the leaves as a wrap for a lovely presentation with fewer carbs. This salad contains no mayonnaise, and that makes it a perfect candidate for the picnic basket.

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June 18, 2013

Recipe for spinach salad with bell pepper, olives, feta, and pine nuts {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Spinach salad with pepper, olives and pine nuts, and a pesto dressing.

Remember when spinach salad meant warm bacon dressing and chopped hard-cooked eggs, and we all loved it and felt oh-so-sophisticated when we ordered it at a café? Did you know (I didn't) that spinach salad, an adaptation of a German dish of dandelion greens with a bacon-vinegar dressing, probably originated in Pennsylvania Dutch country, and not in the kitchen of a French chef? These days, when it comes to spinach salad, there are no rules, as this version with bell pepper, olives, feta cheese and pine nuts proves. There are a few secrets to making great salads that draw on ingredients in your pantry, and they all come down to this: be fearless! Combine unlikely ingredients, using whatever's in season. Take a sauce you'd made for pasta, or a chutney, and thin it with some water to make a salad dressing. Don't be afraid of color. If you don't have baby spinach for this salad, pluck a few lettuce leaves from your garden. And if you don't have good feta, try ricotta salata or another salty cheese.

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Welcome to The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives. Thanks so much for visiting.

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