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September 13, 2015

Black bean, vegetable and cashew salad with sesame-ginger dressing {vegan, gluten-free}

Black bean, vegetable and cashew salad with an Asian twist! Great for potluck, and #glutenfree.

Nine times out of ten, when you have black beans in a dish, you find the seasonings of the warm Southwest and Central America: cumin, cilantro, chile peppers, chili powder. It makes sense, of course, because black beans come from that part of the world. This black bean, vegetable and cashew salad takes a different route, one that travels right through my Asian pantry, and the result will surprise and delight you. I use my pressure cooker to make large batches of black beans, and refrigerate or freeze them for quick and easy salads, soups and stews. Canned black beans make a fine substitute. For crunch, cucumbers, bell peppers, or almost any other vegetable will do (carrots? radishes?). Whip up a sesame-inspired dressing from ingredients you probably always have on hand. I use tamari or gluten-free soy sauce to keep the dish gluten-free; substitute any reduced-sodium soy or light soy sauce (dark soy contains molasses, so if you use it, eliminate the sugar in the recipe). As with most bean salads, this one benefits from a bit of a rest before serving, to allow the beans to absorb some of the dressing. You can make the salad a few hours ahead; add the cashews right before you serve, and they'll stay nice and crunchy. Great for potlucks or picnics.

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March 15, 2015

Mediterranean couscous, tomato, cucumber and feta salad {vegetarian}

Mediterranean couscous, tomato, cucumber and feta salad takes a bit of inspiration from all around the sea.

A real-life Boston friend, on vacation in Key West, posted on Facebook the other day, "If you're on the street or in a shop, and happen to mention you're from Boston, at least five people will come over to you to commiserate about the snow." We're having a crazy winter here, and perhaps that has put me in a Mediterranean frame of mind. I'm craving the sun and the sea, blue skies, outdoor cafés, long lazy lunches, naps in a hammock, and warmth. A jar of Israeli couscous inspired this quick and easy salad that takes a little spin around the Mediterranean, with bits from Greece, France, Italy, the MidEast and North Africa. I love the large, chewy nuggets of Israeli couscous; you could substitute Italian fregula sarda, or any small-grain couscous, if you prefer. Or orzo or ditalini. You get the idea. Chop up some oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes or your own slow-roasted tomatoes; the oil adds tons of flavor, so don't drain the tomatoes before adding them to the salad. Throw in some crunchy fresh vegetables and parsley, and toss everything with a simple oil-and-vinegar dressing, just as they do in countries that border the sea.

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August 3, 2014

Whole wheat pasta turkey salad with vegetables and feta-herb-yogurt dressing

Whole wheat pasta turkey salad, with tangy feta-herb-yogurt dressing.

At this point in my life, I know that I will never be tall, model-thin, or able to balance on high heels. I'll never be a physicist or concert pianist, a race car driver or sky diver. And I will never be vegan. I can give up many things -- butter, chicken, hamburgers -- but do not take my cheese. In this recipe, you can omit the turkey, and of course you can change up the vegetables depending on what you have from the farm stand, but don't leave out the feta cheese. The briny tang of the cheese balances the nutty chewiness of whole wheat pasta, which can be a bit blah without something to perk it up. Fresh herbs are a must, and multi-color vegetables make it fun. This is a great salad to bring to a potluck, because you can make it ahead, and multiply the recipe to serve a crowd. Just don't forget the cheese.

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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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June 22, 2014

Double broccoli salad with almonds and Sriracha yogurt dressing {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Double broccoli salad with almonds and Sriracha yogurt dressing.

One neat thing about having a daughter who's a science teacher is what you learn about things you thought you already knew everything about. For instance, broccoli. Did you know that broccoli is a fractal? I didn't know that; in fact, I had to look up fractals in the dictionary. A fractal is a never-ending pattern, in which each part is self-similar across different scales. In other words, each broccoli floret, large or small, is a miniature of the entire head of broccoli. Isn't that fun? Even more fun, broccoli florets are tender enough not to need cooking, which is a hit with me when the weather gets hot. In this double broccoli salad recipe, I use store-bought broccoli slaw -- the shaved stems of broccoli and carrots, with bits of red cabbage -- with chopped broccoli florets, and bind it all together with a spicy-sweet Sriracha yogurt dressing. Bring this salad to a picnic or potluck this summer, and it will be the first dish to disappear.

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  • 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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