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February 16, 2014

Recipe for Costa Rican gallo pinto (black beans and rice) {vegan, gluten-free}

Gallo pinto (Costa Rican black beans and rice), with scrambled eggs for breakfast.

On every vacation my husband Ted and I have ever taken, one element of the local cuisine defined the entire trip. In Malaysia, I greeted every morning with mee goreng (fried noodles) for breakfast, in restaurants or from street carts; in Brazil, pao de queijo, cheese balls made of manioc, appeared everywhere with breakfast or afternoon coffee. Recently, on vacation in Costa Rica, gallo pinto was the constant. Throughout the country, there are beans (red or black), and there is rice (always white). And then there is gallo pinto, black beans and rice combined with some of the bean cooking water, garlic and bell peppers. You'll never see it with red bell peppers, but I like the color; green peppers are the norm. Cook the rice and beans separately, ahead of time (even a few days ahead), and reserve some of the bean cooking water in a small jar in the refrigerator. Then, toss the dish together in minutes, just before you're ready to serve. It's common to eat gallo pinto for breakfast, with eggs and plantains, or later in the day, with grilled fish or chicken.

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February 2, 2014

Hot sauce (Recipe: smoky brown rice and lentils) {vegan, gluten-free}

Originally published in November 2006, this updated ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. To me, lentils plus brown rice equals comfort food. Use your favorite store-bought or homemade smoky barbecue sauce; I love Rhode Island's own Cowboy Ketchup, gluten-free and not too spicy. Serve this vegan combination as a side dish, or a Meatless Monday main dish with a side salad.

Smoky brown rice and lentils for Meatless Mondays (The Perfect Pantry).

For as long as I can remember, I've had a bottle of Tabasco hot sauce in my pantry.

For many years, it was the same bottle. I used to buy the little two-ounce supermarket standard, and those two ounces would sit on the shelf for a few years, until the sauce turned brown and gunky. I'd throw it out, and buy another little bottle, and start the cycle all over again. No matter what a recipe called for, I never used more than a drop at a time. Sometimes I just left out the hot sauce altogether. I was afraid of the heat.

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January 28, 2014

Recipe for tofu stir-fry with cabbage and cashews {vegan}

Tofu stir-fry with cabbage and cashews (The Perfect Pantry).

Recently our friend Bev stayed with us for a week-plus while recovering from foot surgery, and this made her a captive audience for my cooking experiments. Working with what I had in the pantry one day, I whipped up a turkey version of this vegetarian tofu stir-fry, with cabbage and cashews and mushrooms, and we loved it so much (and ate so much of it) that I had to make it again for you. Bev doesn't like very spicy food, so instead of adding chili paste, which might have been my first instinct, I used a bit more sesame oil, to enhance the nutty flavor of the cashews. Though I've never been a huge fan of cooked cabbage -- I love raw cabbage, in slaws and salads -- I've decided to work harder at liking it. And, as it's so nutritious, I'm making a special effort to incorporate cabbage into our diet more often, starting with soups and stir-fry dishes. Serve this tofu stir-fry over white or brown rice.

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January 21, 2014

Recipe for sweet and sour beef cabbage soup

Sweet and sour beef cabbage soup (The Perfect Pantry).

After a day cooking stuffed cabbage rolls, I had everything left over: cooked rice, tomato juice, mirepoix vegetables (carrots, onions and celery), and some ground beef. Immediately I reached for the soup pot and began tossing in the odds and ends. With a tweak in proportions, and the addition of lemon and brown sugar, the stuffed cabbage ingredients rematerialized as a hearty sweet and sour beef cabbage soup. My husband Ted instantly proclaimed it "Blogworthy!", which is how we categorize recipes good enough to share with you. This is a forgiving soup; if you don't have tomato juice, use beef broth. If you're out of green cabbage, try red, or Savoy, or bok choy. Swap in ground turkey or chicken for the beef, or chop up some leftover rotisserie chicken. Add barley instead of rice. The soup freezes well, which makes it perfect for Soup Swap.

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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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