I have to be honest with you. In real life, this white bean and leek soup looks like dishwater. Looks like it, but does not taste like it. (And because it's hard to photograph dishwater and make it look appetizing, I've added some bacon garnish, though it's absolutely not necessary to this otherwise vegan soup.) What makes this simple bean soup great is the technique of reserving a third of the main ingredients to add after the initial cooking and blending of the rest of the soup. Puréed beans and leeks form the "creamy" base, and every now and then, your spoon will find a whole bean or two to awaken your mouth. If you are vegan, omit the optional garnishes (bacon or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano... Read more →


Winter salads can be a challenge, but really, there's so much available as long as you stay away from rock-hard, plastic-looking pinkish tomatoes, overpriced asparagus, and other foods best eaten when they're in season in the summer. This meal-in-a-bowl began as a color study in reds and greens, with a handful of farro thrown in for texture (you could use barley or medium-size couscous instead). Instead of spinach, try kale, or a mix of lettuces and dark leafy greens. Swap dried cranberries for dried cherries, if you wish. This dish filled with fruits and vegetables couldn't be easier, or more satisfying, either as a side salad or a meatless main course. Healthy red and green meal-in-a-bowl salad, with spinach, berries and farro {vegan} From the... Read more →


I'm grateful to slow cooker manufacturers everywhere for not actually building the airtight appliances they intended to build. Nothing makes me happier than the house filling with the aroma, escaping from under the lid, of whatever is gently cooking in the pot for many hours. A recipe like this Tex-Mex chicken and rice, with corn and black beans tucked here and there, can cook on the stovetop, but in the slow cooker, the flavors have a chance to intermingle on their own (without tending by you), and the musky scent of cumin warms up the kitchen as it cooks. You'll find jars of sofrito in the Spanish foods section of your supermarket. If you use converted rice, you can cook rice right in with the... Read more →


When you set out to create a new recipe, where do you start? Seasonality of the ingredients? Color? Shape? Texture? Sweet versus tart? All of the above? In the case of this easy pan-made farro with butternut squash and pears and dried cranberries and feta, I began with pears so ripe and ready for action that they practically jumped into the frying pan. I diced and sautéed those pears along with a bit of leftover peeled butternut squash, added some of my new favorite ten-minute farro, and the dish began to come together. Tart feta cheese balanced the sweet fruit, and some acidity from the dressing brought everything together. Intended as a side dish, it became an irresistible main course, perfect for a meatless lunch.... Read more →


Generally, I think of myself as a person who has not led a fear-based life. And yet, I spent decades living in fear of pressure cookers (once you see green beans plastered to the kitchen ceiling, you cannot unsee them). So I owe this risotto to my friend Kalyn, who nudged me back into pressure cooking, which turned risotto from nearly an hour of stirring (and upper arm exhaustion) to a quick six minutes at high pressure in my fail-safe electric pressure cooker, making this spinach and kale risotto officially fast food. Sun-dried tomatoes bring a little sweetness to balance the bitter greens, creating a risotto that's both easy and healthy. If you have your own slow-roasted tomatoes in the freezer, use those instead, and... Read more →


On the days when I'm really in the mood to cook, I love to put some meals "in the bank" -- in other words, into the freezer, for the days when I'm really not in the mood to cook. These chicken enchilada roll-ups start with one of those "in the bank" dishes, quick and easy black beans and rice, and end as an all-in-one meal you can defrost, zap in the microwave, and serve any day of the week with just a few minutes of work. At this busy time of year, it's great to have a few easy meals on hand at the end of a long day of shopping, wrapping, cookie baking or tree trimming. If you've spent a lot of time sitting... Read more →


After ten years of soup recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, do you still need proof that combining any fresh ingredient -- fruit, vegetables, sausage or leftover turkey -- with a well-stocked pantry will produce a very fine soup? You can do it, and do it without a recipe; the secret is to be fearless and plunge right in. That's the way this sausage and black bean soup started out, but it ended up being so good that I'm glad I took notes as I was making it, so you can replicate it in your own kitchen. The soup began with the gift from my cousin of a couple of packages of Al Fresco Chipotle Chicken Chorizo Sausage with mango and adobo that were languishing... Read more →