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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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March 9, 2014

Recipe for corn and black bean salad with sweet lime dressing {vegan, gluten-free}

Black bean and corn salad (The Perfect Pantry). #vegan #glutenfree

Here in New England, corn season lasts for six weeks, and these middle-of-March weeks are not the weeks for fresh corn. Don't let that stop you from enjoying this gorgeous vegan and gluten-free side salad. Buy frozen organic corn kernels or frozen fire-roasted corn (if you're lucky enough to have a Trader Joe's market nearby). Combine the corn with canned or cooked black beans; I'm using my new pressure cooker to make large batches of beans, so I always have some on hand. Add a squirt of lime for a bright, fresh flavor. You'll forget that it's winter. When corn season arrives, make this salad with fresh corn kernels and bell pepper from your garden, and it will be that much better. Serve it with salmon (oh, the colors!) or roast chicken.

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March 2, 2014

Black bean, tomato and sausage soup recipe

Black bean, tomato and sausage soup (The Perfect Pantry).

Sometimes -- most times -- I really love my well-stocked pantry. With snow swirling outside and shoveling to be done (how quickly the glow of our warm-weather vacation wore off), I reviewed what I had in the cupboard and refrigerator while I cleared a ragged just-wide-enough path to the driveway. Back in the kitchen, I sat my favorite red Dutch oven on the stovetop, and collected ingredients for this black bean, tomato and sausage soup. Absolutely everything in this recipe comes straight from the pantry, and the soup comes together in minutes if you start with canned black beans. The whole, more than the sum of its parts, restored my energy and soothed my tired muscles. Make the soup mild or spicy, depending on how much snow you have to shovel.

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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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