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August 31, 2014

Sliced carrot and almond salad with roasted lemon, basil and mint dressing {vegan, gluten-free}

Sliced carrot and almond salad, with a minty lemon dressing.

Sometimes, you have to test the theory that a great salad dressing can make anything -- car upholstery, old shoes, vegetables you don't love -- taste wonderful. It's not uncommon to find a bag of carrots languishing in the vegetable drawer of my refrigerator, because, to be honest, I don't love carrots. I use them in soups as part of the mire poix of aromatic vegetables, but I seldom cook them on their own, or even add them to garden greens and tomatoes. This little salad provided the ultimate test of the roasted lemon dressing I first used on cucumbers. Could the dressing make me love carrots? Yes! Is it worth the little bit of effort to roast the lemon? Yes! I don't recommend trying this dressing on shoe leather, but it just might work on cauliflower. That's my next experiment. Make this carrot salad now, while there's still plenty of mint in the garden.

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August 24, 2014

Salad Nicoise-style, with tuna, green beans, olives and potatoes {gluten-free}

Salad with lots of Nicoise ingredients: beans, olives, potatoes.

Before seeing Julia Child make it on an episode of The French Chef, way back when, I'd never heard of salade Nicoise. Julia dressed each element of the classic composed salad individually, arranged everything artfully on a platter, and presented it (to her television audience) with great fanfare. I took a few shortcuts in preparing my version, which was precipitated by the gift of some beautiful crispy green beans from my friend Donna's garden. I had fingerling potatoes left from another recipe, plus local tomatoes and some pitted kalamata olives. A hard-boiled farm egg with a golden yolk. Baby cucumbers, almost seedless. A red bell pepper. I added a small piece of roasted tuna (vegetarians can substitute chickpeas), and used my favorite balsamic vinaigrette dressing to pull together the melange of cooked and raw components. Not 100 percent authentic, but very good indeed. The recipe multiplies easily, to serve a crowd, and you can make all of the pieces ahead of time for last-minute assembly. Bon appétit!

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August 6, 2014

Hawaiian sweet potato salad {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Hawaiian sweet potato salad. #vegetarian #glutenfree

A longtime reader who I met when his wife took a cooking class from me, Ken retired to Hawaii several years ago. Recently he wrote to say he thought we needed some Hawaiian recipes in the American Regional Recipes section of The Perfect Pantry, and to help me get started, he sent several locally-published cookbooks. Hawaiian cuisine is really a crossroads of all of the cultures who've settled on the islands: Asian, Polynesian, native Hawaiian, and many former military folks from all around the United States. I've been having a great time reading through the books, marking all of the dishes I want to try. It's almost impossible to get authentic Hawaiian ingredients here in New England; however, many recipes can be adapted to what's locally available, like this one, which calls for Okinawan sweet potatoes. A bit of research taught me that Okinawan potatoes are a particular variety -- with purple flesh! I substituted our regular sweet potatoes, which I know everyone can buy in the market. Make this potato salad several hours ahead, to allow the flavors to blend, and serve it as a side dish with grilled beef, pork or chicken.

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August 3, 2014

Whole wheat pasta turkey salad with vegetables and feta-herb-yogurt dressing

Whole wheat pasta turkey salad, with tangy feta-herb-yogurt dressing.

At this point in my life, I know that I will never be tall, model-thin, or able to balance on high heels. I'll never be a physicist or concert pianist, a race car driver or sky diver. And I will never be vegan. I can give up many things -- butter, chicken, hamburgers -- but do not take my cheese. In this recipe, you can omit the turkey, and of course you can change up the vegetables depending on what you have from the farm stand, but don't leave out the feta cheese. The briny tang of the cheese balances the nutty chewiness of whole wheat pasta, which can be a bit blah without something to perk it up. Fresh herbs are a must, and multi-color vegetables make it fun. This is a great salad to bring to a potluck, because you can make it ahead, and multiply the recipe to serve a crowd. Just don't forget the cheese.

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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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