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April 29, 2014

Recipe for shrimp and black bean salad with chipotle-lime dressing {gluten-free}

Shrimp and black bean salad, kicked up with chipotle lime dressing! #salad #shrimp #glutenfree

Never underestimate the power of color to inspire what we cook. I'd been working nonstop on my new e-book (Dress Up Your Salad, available now!), and testing lots of salad dressings and salad combinations. One day a few weeks ago, while my kitchen overflowed with jars, and herbs, and prepped ingredients, I took a break and treated myself to a little spree at my favorite local discount store, where I found this bowl. You know the rest: bowl meets black beans meets gorgeous red bell pepper meets kicked-up chipotle lime salad dressing. The shrimp were a bonus, and absolutely perfect, but you could swap in some shredded rotisserie chicken if that's what you have on hand. Go ahead and add some chopped avocado, cold cooked rice, or sliced onion, too. This is a light main-course salad to celebrate the arrival of Spring, and it will carry you straight through summer picnic season.

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April 10, 2014

Beef barley soup recipe (pressure cooker or stove top)

Beef barley soup, made easy in the pressure cooker (or on the stove stop). #soup

Here in Rhode Island, the calendar says Spring, but the thermometer says Not Yet. I drive around looking for places where green might be peeking through, but until a few days ago, lingering patches of ice suppressed most of the crocuses, daffodils and fiddlehead ferns. The rainy, raw weather of early April puts me in the mood for soups like this traditional beef barley. I'm having a lot of fun learning how to use my first-ever electric pressure cooker, which is my new preferred method for making this soup, though I've included directions for making it on the stove. In the pressure cooker, the small chunks of beef and barley cook to perfect tenderness in just ten minutes at high pressure. Thick and chewy beef barley soup, a standard in New York delicatessens, has been a favorite of mine since childhood. This version is better than any you'll find in a deli. I promise.

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April 1, 2014

Recipe for spaghetti squash with cashew basil pesto and white beans {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Spaghetti squash with cashew basil pesto and white beans, from The Perfect Pantry.

If I had mad Photoshop skills, I could turn this dish bright green. Scary green, even. Fortunately, I don't have that ability, and anyway, I want you to see how this luscious spaghetti squash really looks once it's been tossed in pesto and sits for a few minutes. Not gorgeous, I admit, but the garlicky aroma and melty cheese and crunchy cashews and creamy beans, all together, more than make up for the color. I'm rediscovering spaghetti squash, a low-calorie alternative to pasta, and a vegetable plentiful in the market at least three seasons of the year. Although I've been cooking spaghetti squash in my new pressure cooker, you can bake it in the oven, and either method works perfectly in this dish. It's not yet fresh basil season here in New England, so you have my permission to substitute good quality store-bought pesto if necessary. If you're not vegetarian and want to tuck a bit of shredded cooked chicken or shrimp in here, you have my permission to do that, too.

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March 13, 2014

Dry beans (Recipe: everything-from-the-pantry bean soup) {vegetarian}

Originally published in December 2006, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe, which I now like to make meatless. You can add some chicken or sausage for your omnivorous eaters.

Everything-from-the-pantry bean soup #vegetarian.

By nature and by habit, I am a decanter.

Not the kind with an hourglass figure (don't I wish?) and a cork stopper.

No, I am a person who decants almost everything in my pantry into clear jars so I can see how much of each item I have on hand. I've never been able to divine, just by looking at a box on the shelf, exactly how much sugar, or rice, or bulgur wheat, is left in the box. The smaller jars, mostly one-quart canning size, hold the things I use in smaller quantities: lentils, cocoa powder, arrowroot, table salt for baking. In medium jars, I keep various kinds of rice, and breakfast cereals. The large jars hold the basics: sugars, kosher salt, flours.

My favorite jars are what I call the amalgamators: the jar that holds leftover odds and ends of dry pasta, and the one that gathers dry beans. I only allow like-minded beans — those that cook in approximately the same time, or have the same texture or color — to cohabit. Today, my bean jar contains red kidneys and Anasazi beans, and a few navy beans hiding at the bottom. At other times, it might have cranberry beans, if I'm lucky enough to find them, or pink pintos.

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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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