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October 7, 2015

Three Sisters soup {vegan, gluten-free}

Three Sisters soup combines beans, corn and squash. Make ahead and freeze, from The Perfect Pantry.

Five years ago, I shared a version of this Native American Three Sisters Soup on my soup blog, and because I believe in the magic of the Three Sisters (beans, squash and corn, planted together in a mutually supportive ecosystem), I thought I'd freshen up the recipe and post it here. After all, who couldn't use some magic in their life? The power of this soup begins in the field: the beans climb onto the corn, and return nitrogen to the soil; the squash, nourished by the beans, provides shade to the shallow roots of the corn plants and keeps the weeds down. Native Americans believe that since these three foods protect each other while growing, they will protect whoever eats them together. The apple cider adds sweetness that a splash of cider vinegar balances nicely. If you're looking for a great make-ahead-and-freeze soup, put this one on your list. You never know when you'll need a little bit of magic.

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October 4, 2015

White bean and sun-dried tomato dip or sandwich spread {vegan, gluten-free}

White bean and sun-dried tomato dip makes a great sandwich filling, too! #vegan #glutenfree

Over the summer, I spent a few days here and there in the hospital, getting some parts replaced. In my hospital bag I'd packed a small notebook where I write down ideas for recipes to try (I always have a notebook with me; I'm old-fashioned that way), and a couple of weeks ago I was reading through those notes with my grandson Aiden, who has a bit of interest in cooking and likes to cook with me. When I read my note about this recipe -- written under the influence of a serious dose of anesthesia -- Aiden laughed out loud, because what I'd written was, white bean and sun-dried tomato thing with interesting spices. What, he asked, were interesting spices, and what was a thing? Fair enough questions, and this recipe turned out to be the answer. The spices could be any combination of what you like: cumin and coriander, thyme and oregano, harissa with cinnamon, but I chose to go a smoky, slighty spicy route. The dip is great with cucumber slices, and works just as well tucked into a pita with those cucumbers, plus crispy lettuce and some black olives. If you have your own slow-roasted tomatoes in the freezer, by all means swap those for the sun-dried tomatoes, and the dip will be even better.

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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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August 19, 2015

Turkey, black bean, and three-chile taco boats {gluten-free}

Three-chile taco boats filled with turkey and black bean sauce. Just add your favorite toppings! #glutenfree

My friend Mary has been gluten-free and dairy-free for a couple of years, and one day she confessed to me that, sometimes, she gets a little bit bored with her cooking. I understand, because really, don't we all get in a rut once in a while? I do. To break out of the rut, you don't always need to invent something new; you might just need to jazz up the presentation a bit. I found Ortega gluten-free tortilla flats in my supermarket, in the Latin foods aisle. I made a slight variation of our favorite Tex-Mex turkey and black bean sauce, using some green chile powder my friend Kalyn sent me, and piled the sauce into the tortilla flats. The dish looked, and felt, brand new -- and my grandsons loved it, too.

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June 24, 2015

Asparagus and mushroom fried rice

Asparagus and mushroom fried rice, a quick and easy main dish.

Our 11-year-old grandson, a lefty in a sea of right-handed eaters, has been teaching himself to use chopsticks. Instead of starting with something easy and stabbable, like chunks of chicken, he goes straight for the hard stuff: slithery noodles and slippery grains of rice. Both are staples in our house (he and I have even cooked stir-fry noodles together), so he's getting lots of practice. Whenever I make rice in my rice cooker, I fill it to the max, and keep leftover cold rice in the refrigerator or freezer for quick fried rice meals made with whatever else I have on hand. At this time of year, that "whatever" often includes asparagus; our season is short, and we tend to overdose just a bit for the six weeks when asparagus are everywhere. Think of this as a good, basic fried rice recipe, adaptable to any vegetables on a moment's notice. You'll thank me during zucchini season later this summer.

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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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