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May 4, 2014

Quinoa rainbow salad with asparagus, feta and orange-tarragon vinaigrette {vegetarian, gluten-free}, and my brand new cookbook

Quinoa-rainbow-salad-recipe

I'm sorry, but I cannot wait one more minute. Asparagus, I must have you, even though it won't really be harvest season for another couple of weeks here in Rhode Island. This recipe for gluten-free quinoa rainbow salad, with pieces of lightly-blanched asparagus, bell pepper and feta cheese, wrapped in an orange-tarragon dressing, comes from my new book, Dress Up Your Salad. After making the salad a few times to test and photograph the recipe, I can't stop thinking about it.

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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 17, 2014

Seafood and broccoli salad recipe with curry yogurt dressing

Seafood and broccoli salad with curry yogurt dressing. #salad #curry

On the day I made this dish to photograph -- the third time we ate this salad in one week -- I intended to go to the fish market and buy a beautiful melange of scallops and mussels and maybe some chunks of salmon, and mix them all together with the broccoli and curry yogurt dressing. I intended to go, but I didn't. So, I made the salad with large shrimp I had in the freezer, and it was every bit as good as the mixed seafood, which proves that a great salad dressing can snazz up any ingredients you toss with it. Let your imagination, and the fishmonger, guide you, and combine any fish and shellfish with crisp broccoli florets, lightly blanched, and some toasted cashews (or pine nuts, or even chickpeas) and raisins. The dressing keeps in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, which should be ample time to get to the fish market.

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April 8, 2014

Recipe for orzo and shrimp salad with asparagus, bell peppers and feta cheese

Orzo and shrimp salad with asparagus, bell peppers and feta cheese. #salad

At our local discount store, Ocean State Job Lot, you never know what you'll find: garden hoses, fleece pajamas, super-cheap small appliances, chlorine pool tablets. As random (and fun) as the shopping can be, there are a few constants; the store stocks the entire line of Bob's Red Mill products, plus foods from around the world like pastas, nuts and spices. On a recent trip, I found whole wheat orzo, and that's what inspired this shrimp salad. I put it together with gently cooked shrimp and asparagus, out-of-season but too tempting to pass by at the supermarket. My "house" vinaigrette, of which there's always a jar in my refrigerator, pulled it all together. As good as this was on the day I made it, the leftovers were equally good the following day, and it will be a perfect salad for picnics in warmer weather.

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March 27, 2014

Recipe for iceberg lettuce (or green salad) with lighter Thousand Island dressing {vegetarian}

Iceberg lettuce wedge with lighter Thousand Island dressing (The Perfect Pantry).

As a child in the 1960s, I couldn't help but fall in love with bell bottom pants and tie-dyed T-shirts, Doris Day movies, the Beatles, and iceberg lettuce wedges. Going out for a fancy dinner meant starting with a perfect triangle of crispy, ice-cold iceberg topped with sweet Thousand Island dressing. I know it's hard to imagine now that this was a delicacy way back when, but it was a treat we always anticipated with glee when we went to the "fine dining" restaurants in the suburbs. Today, it's a retro salad that will bring smiles to the faces of everyone at your table, for the same reason we loved it when I was a child -- because it's good. I've lightened up the mix a bit with nonfat Greek yogurt and reduced-calorie mayonnaise, though the amount of mayo is small enough that it really doesn't make a huge difference if you use the real thing. If you don't have a bottle of sweet green relish in your fridge (it always comes in the picnic packs with ketchup and yellow mustard), chop some pickles and capers instead, and add a tiny bit of sugar. Now, does this salad bring back memories for you?

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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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