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June 18, 2014

Couscous salad with chopped vegetables, basil, parsley and pomegranate vinaigrette {vegan}

Couscous salad with a rainbow of vegetables, and pomegranate vinaigrette. #salad #vegan

When nobody is home, I love to do the thing I hate to watch other people do: I open the refrigerator door, and stand and stare inside, searching for inspiration. My mother's voice echoes in my ears: "Don't leave the door open! Just take what you want!" My mother wasn't really a let-your-imagination-run-wild kind of cook, but somehow, I've become one. A bit of this, some leftover that, the fixings for a salad or stir-fry or stew: it's all in my fridge. That's how this fantastic couscous salad recipe came to life. It started with leftover cooked Israeli couscous, which could just as easily have been orzo or small pasta (always make extra to have some on hand for salads). I discovered a rainbow of vegetables -- tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers -- snipped some herbs fresh from the garden, and tossed it all with a tangy pomegranate dressing. Mix things up with whatever you find in the refrigerator. Go ahead; stand and stare. It works for me.

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June 10, 2014

Greek shrimp, feta, lemon and basil couscous salad

Greek shrimp, feta, lemon and basil salad recipe: all the wonderful flavors of Greece. #salad #couscous #shrimp

The combination of flavors in this salad -- feta, lemon, basil, olives -- transports the armchair traveler in me to a taverna in Greece, where I imagine myself sitting at a round iron-legged café table overlooking the Mediterranean, sipping ouzo in the low afternoon sun. Luckily, this simple summer recipe tastes every bit as good if you're enjoying it on your own front porch. Israeli couscous -- not Greek, but from the other side of the Mediterranean -- is a small pasta that's toasted, which gives it a firm texture; if you can't find it in your market, use regular couscous, fregula sarda, or orzo or another small pasta. The lemon dressing gets its balance from Greek seasoning, a blend of oregano, lemon zest, salt and pepper I discovered a few years ago on a visit to The Spice House in Chicago. The basil in this salad came from my own herb garden, the first aromatic leaves of the season. Greece is lovely, but home can be quite tasty, too.

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June 3, 2014

Coconut peanut rice bowl with turkey, broccoli and mushrooms {gluten-free}

Rice bowl with turkey, broccoli and mushrooms in a coconut peanut sauce. #glutenfree

Early in my adult life, I realized I don't have the rice-cooking gene. No amount of measuring, and rinsing, and simmering, and steaming will help me produce a perfectly cooked pot of rice. I have proved to be equally inept with white rice, brown rice, basmati and jasmine rice, though I can make a pretty great pot of risotto. For everyday rice, I rely on my little electronic rice cooker, which never lets me down. (I use it for quinoa, too.) I like to make as much as the rice cooker will hold, and keep leftover rice in the refrigerator to make dishes like this coconut peanut rice bowl recipe, which I created for Lynne, my friend Bev's daughter, who eats gluten-free and dairy-free. You can make this recipe vegan by omitting the turkey and adding more vegetables, and make it spicier with a squirt or two of Sriracha sauce.

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May 13, 2014

Pressure cooker shrimp and asparagus risotto with mushrooms {gluten-free}

Pressure-cooker-shrimp-asparagus-risotto-recipe

It's the most wonderful time of the year here in New England, when asparagus spears poke their pointy little heads through the ground in a burst of energy they've been saving up all winter. What could be more energetic, more optimistic, than to push yourself up toward the sun... only to be chopped off and devoured by eager cooks? Oh dear. While it might not be the perfect ending for the asparagus, the glorious six-week season is a joy to the rest of us. I'm so in love with asparagus that I've been collecting recipes on my Asparagus! Pinterest board, and now it's time to get cooking. One of my recent successes, this pressure cooker shrimp and asparagus risotto recipe -- gluten-free, too -- is quick and easy to make in the pressure cooker (though you could easily adapt it for the stovetop, using this recipe as a guide). The rice cooks under pressure for just six minutes, and you finish the risotto by hand, which ensures it will be just as creamy, buttery and cheesy as you like it.

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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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