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November 2, 2014

Spanish rice with onion, garlic and bell peppers {gluten-free}

Spanish rice, a perfect kid-friendly side dish with beef, chicken or fish.  #glutenfree

Oh, the places you can go with this basic Spanish rice -- which isn't Spanish at all, to be honest. It's American, or Southwestern, or Mexican, depending on what you add to it. Some recipes call for canned tomato with its juice, which can overwhelm the dish and make it taste like a can of tomato rice soup, or maybe a 1950s school cafeteria lunch. Here, the emphasis stays on the rice; the combination of fresh tomatoes and slow-roasted tomatoes (made with garlic and thyme) adds depth of flavor, without drowning out the toasted grain's nutty flavor and firm texture. As is, this is a family-friendly side dish that makes it fun to eat your colors. Mix-ins can transform it into a one-pot main course; add mild or hot fresh or canned chile peppers, chorizo or your favorite sausage, shrimp, leftover rotisserie chicken, meatballs, or cubes of grilled pork or beef. Olé!

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October 8, 2014

Smashed white bean, chicken sausage and kale soup {gluten-free}

Smashed white bean, sausage and kale soup, great to make ahead and freeze.

In retail, October means Halloween. At the farmstand, October means pumpkin. In The Perfect Pantry's kitchen, October means soup, and signals the return of dark leafy greens to the cooking rotation. The first of many new soup recipes to come, this white bean, chicken sausage and kale soup draws on ingredients I always have in the pantry, plus a bunch of fresh kale. All of my local grocery stores stock a good variety of chicken sausages these days, and I always have a few varieties in my freezer. Use something like tomato and basil, or garlic and onion, in this recipe. Or, if spicy is your thing, try this soup with your favorite spicy sausage. Use a wooden spoon to smash some white beans against the side of the pot; aside from being lots of fun and a great way to purge yourself of any frustrations, this helps to thicken the soup base without any additional thickening agents needed. This is a quick and easy soup to make ahead and freeze, or toss together at the last minute for weeknight dinner.

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October 5, 2014

North African harissa turkey and butternut squash stew {gluten-free}

Turkey and squash stew spiced with North African harissa hot pepper paste. #glutenfree

When we first moved into the log house fifteen years ago, we installed radiant heat under the kitchen floor. A small probe sticks out the side of the house, and when the temperature outdoors goes below 50°F, the probe triggers the thermostat and kicks on the gentle heat in the kitchen. At about that same time of year, when it's cooler outside, my cooking heats up, too. There's no shortage of hot chiles, hot pepper sauce, and hot ground peppers in my pantry from cultures around the world. One of my favorites, harissa -- a smoky, fiery, little-goes-a-long-way red pepper paste from North Africa -- adds the zing to the mild turkey and butternut squash in this dish. I use my favorite rice cooker to cook brown rice, which makes an ideal base for the stew; start the rice an hour before you're ready to make the rest of the recipe, or make it ahead of time and reheat before serving.

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September 24, 2014

Roasted beet risotto with goat cheese and beet greens, pressure cooker or stovetop {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Roasted beet risotto with goat cheese and beet greens. #vegetarian #glutenfree

In high school chemistry class, my lab partner, Bill, did all of the experiments, and I handled the write-ups. This division of labor served us well, as it had the previous year in biology lab, except that I had the hardest time describing the colors of whatever concoction was reacting in the test tube. Orangish-yellow? Reddish-purple? Bill and I struggled over what to name our colors. (Obviously, neither of us grew up to work for Benjamin Moore paints or J. Crew, where we could have gotten a whole lot more creative with color names.) I don't know how to describe the color of this roasted beet risotto, either. Red? Pink? Salmon? Reddish-pinkish-salmon? It's gorgeous, I'll say that, and the photos really do show its beauty. However, for the taste, which is also glorious and and creamy and a bit sweet from the roasted beets, you'll have to make it yourself. If goat cheese isn't your thing, you can substitute feta, but feta doesn't melt, so your risotto will be more red. Reddish-purple. Oh, you know.

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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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