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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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July 27, 2014

Grilled chicken, zucchini and nectarine spinach salad with honey-lime dressing {gluten-free}

Grilled chicken, zucchini and nectarine spinach salad, tossed with honey-lime dressing. #glutenfree

Our grill died. It was not a death with drama (no flames, no explosion); the poor thing just faded away, perhaps from working too hard, and because we're planning to move later this year, my husband Ted and I decided to face this summer without a grill. Instead, I've been using my panini press, and that's how I grilled the chicken, zucchini halves, and nectarine chunks for this salad. A cast iron stovetop grill pan would work just as well. First, cook the chicken breasts, and while they are resting, throw the zucchini and nectarine cut side down on the hot grill and sear them until you have nice grill marks, just about two or three minutes. Chop everything into same-size chunks, and tie it all together with honey-lime dressing you can make far in advance. The warm chicken and vegetables will help to wilt the spinach leaves a bit, without rendering them a soggy mess. Peaches make a fine substitute for nectarines, and yellow or patty pan squash can stand in for zucchini. You can use shrimp in place of chicken, too. This is a great salad for picnics or potlucks.

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July 20, 2014

Cucumber salad with roasted lemon, mint and basil dressing {vegan, gluten-free}

Thinly sliced cucumber dressed with roasted lemon, mint and basil. #vegan #glutenfree

What happens when you roast a lemon? It morphs from a fruit that's impossibly sour, to one that's improbably sweet. Squeeze the juice from that sweet lemon and blend it with bright, fresh herbs and fruity olive oil, and you create a salad dressing that's a little bit magical. For this simple salad, I sliced a seedless English cucumber into paper-thin slices on the mandoline, drizzled it with the dressing, and let it sit for 15 minutes so some of the dressing seeped into the cucumber. Try this with zucchini, or beets, or thin slices of boiled potato, or nectarines. I had some dressing left over, and slathered it on grilled salmon -- and yes, it was perfect.

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June 22, 2014

Double broccoli salad with almonds and Sriracha yogurt dressing {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Double broccoli salad with almonds and Sriracha yogurt dressing.

One neat thing about having a daughter who's a science teacher is what you learn about things you thought you already knew everything about. For instance, broccoli. Did you know that broccoli is a fractal? I didn't know that; in fact, I had to look up fractals in the dictionary. A fractal is a never-ending pattern, in which each part is self-similar across different scales. In other words, each broccoli floret, large or small, is a miniature of the entire head of broccoli. Isn't that fun? Even more fun, broccoli florets are tender enough not to need cooking, which is a hit with me when the weather gets hot. In this double broccoli salad recipe, I use store-bought broccoli slaw -- the shaved stems of broccoli and carrots, with bits of red cabbage -- with chopped broccoli florets, and bind it all together with a spicy-sweet Sriracha yogurt dressing. Bring this salad to a picnic or potluck this summer, and it will be the first dish to disappear.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives. Thanks so much for visiting.

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