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October 4, 2015

White bean and sun-dried tomato dip or sandwich spread {vegan, gluten-free}

White bean and sun-dried tomato dip makes a great sandwich filling, too! #vegan #glutenfree

Over the summer, I spent a few days here and there in the hospital, getting some parts replaced. In my hospital bag I'd packed a small notebook where I write down ideas for recipes to try (I always have a notebook with me; I'm old-fashioned that way), and a couple of weeks ago I was reading through those notes with my grandson Aiden, who has a bit of interest in cooking and likes to cook with me. When I read my note about this recipe -- written under the influence of a serious dose of anesthesia -- Aiden laughed out loud, because what I'd written was, white bean and sun-dried tomato thing with interesting spices. What, he asked, were interesting spices, and what was a thing? Fair enough questions, and this recipe turned out to be the answer. The spices could be any combination of what you like: cumin and coriander, thyme and oregano, harissa with cinnamon, but I chose to go a smoky, slighty spicy route. The dip is great with cucumber slices, and works just as well tucked into a pita with those cucumbers, plus crispy lettuce and some black olives. If you have your own slow-roasted tomatoes in the freezer, by all means swap those for the sun-dried tomatoes, and the dip will be even better.

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September 2, 2015

Bacon, lettuce and tomato: The Perfect Pantry's favorite twists on the classic sandwich

The stuff of dreams: BLT sandwich with garlicky Green Goddess dressing..

Here in New England, it's just now tomato season. We wait all year, and then all summer, and only in August do we get tomatoes that were not grown in a hothouse. There isn't much that's better than a slice of tomato with a sprinkling of coarse sea salt, but at this time of year, I love to bring out some of my favorite variations on the classic bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich.

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July 22, 2015

Burgers, burgers, burgers! The Perfect Pantry's favorites for summer grilling

Nothing beats an old-fashioned cheeseburger!

Nothing tops a juicy cheeseburger cooked to perfection on the grill. Nothing. I'm pretty sure I'd opt for a burger over my favorite jambalaya or garlic chicken skewers for my last meal. I love turkey burgers, and salmon burgers, and the occasional veggie burger, but at heart I'm a purist and adore my dribble-down-the-chin beef burgers. However, when it comes to toppings, I'm open to new ideas. Salsa and avocado, feta cheese, hummus -- I'll try it. How about you? Are you open-minded when it comes to burgers?

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July 19, 2015

Slow cooker Greek chicken roll-ups with tomato, olives and feta cheese

Shredded Greek chicken, made easy in the slow cooker, piles into tortilla wraps with tomato, olives and feta.

For the past three months, I've made a batch of this slow cooker Greek chicken at least once a week. From the first bite, it's been a family favorite, used for filling pitas, mixing in salads, or topping a pizza. The method is simple: start building flavor with Greek seasoning (my favorite Greektown "Billygoat" Seasoning comes from The Spice House) and then add more of each of the individual ingredients like oregano, lemon zest, and pepper to bump up it up even more. Bind the ingredients together with a bit of olive oil, and let the slow cooker do the rest. A quick shredding with two forks (or, as one of my readers suggested, a whir in the KitchenAid stand mixer) yields a large batch of ready-to-use or ready-to-freeze chicken. I love to toss some of this shredded chicken into a baby kale salad, with poppyseed or vinaigrette dressing, or into a chopped vegetable Greek salad. For picnics, roll-ups made with colorful spinach and tomato tortillas are lots of fun, easy to pack and transport, and everyone loves them.

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July 5, 2015

Smoky egg salad lettuce boats with caramelized onions {vegetarian}

Smoky egg salad lettuce boats, a picnic-perfect twist on the classic.

When it comes to egg salad, I'm a straight-up gal. Hard-boiled eggs, really good mayonnaise, black pepper, and nothing more. Oh, occasionally I'll toss in a bit of celery. Perfection. And yet... sometimes, I have to cut loose, and when I do, I turn to my spice rack and pantry for inspiration. The combination of eggs and caramelized onions takes me back to childhood, when my grandmother used to combine the two with chopped liver for the classic Jewish appetizer. I think if she'd had smoked paprika on hand (I'm sure she never heard of it), she might have added a pinch of that as well, because I love how just the tiniest bit of smoky pepper plays off the sweet onions. Depending on whether you like your egg salad with a kick, use mild or hot smoked paprika (it also comes in a bittersweet variety, which is midway between the two on the heat scale). If lettuce boats aren't your thing, stuff this egg salad into a pita or crusty roll, or fold it into a tortilla wrap. You can make all of the components a few hours (or days) ahead, and assemble at the last minute, so it's great for picnics.

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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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