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December 10, 2014

Pressure cooker split pea soup with (or without) sausage

Split pea soup (with or without sausage), made easy in the pressure cooker.

In my dinged-up, bright red, cast-iron Dutch oven, I make a pretty mean pot of split pea soup, which just happens to be my very favorite comfort food on days when there's snow to be shoveled. Or when I have the sniffles. Or when I'm craving soup, which really does happen. I've been making split pea soup the same way forever, until this year, when I first tried it in my electric pressure cooker. Oh my oh my. The pressure cooker traps all of the flavor, and softens the split peas so the immersion blender simply has to nudge them into silkiness. Compared to my stove top version, and despite using the exact same ingredients, the pressure cooker version is downright ethereal. Add your favorite mild or spicy sausage, or not; I love this soup either way. It's a great make-ahead-and-freeze soup for your winter soup swaps, or quick worknight dinners with a green salad and crusty bread on the side. And if you don't have a pressure cooker, you can make split pea soup on the stove top or in the slow cooker.

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November 30, 2014

Risotto alla Milanese, stovetop or pressure cooker method {gluten-free}

Risotto alla Milanese, the ultimate classic risotto rich with saffron and cheese.

My love affair with risotto began with this saffron-tinged risotto alla Milanese, and now that I'm learning to make risotto in the pressure cooker, I'm more in love than ever before. There are only a handful of ingredients in this dish, so each one needs to be the very best you can find. Real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, good Italian arborio rice, pure saffron threads (expensive, but you only need a pinch), creamy butter, and broth that isn't too salty. When you're cooking with short-grain rices, note that the proportion of liquid to rice is approximately 4-to-1, compared to the 2-to-1 ratio for cooking long-grain white rice; however, in the pressure cooker, which retains more liquid in the cooking process, the proportion is slightly different. I've given you both methods, because I really want you to fall in love with this risotto, too. (And here's a tip for parents: when preparing this for your kids, call it "yellow cheesy rice." It works for us.)

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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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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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