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May 15, 2012

Recipe for pasta with peas and parsley-walnut pesto {vegetarian}


While cleaning out the freezer in The Perfect Pantry recently, I discovered some cooked pasta, half a bag of frozen peas, and a long-forgotten container of pesto made from the last of last summer's parsley (gosh, that's a lot of P in one sentence, isn't it?). In fact, my pantry offered up every ingredient for this dish of pasta with peas and parsley-walnut pesto. If you don't have homemade pesto tucked away in your freezer, use store-bought basil pesto, and you will be very happy. And if you prefer whole wheat or gluten-free pasta, use what you love. Be sure to use good white wine and real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; when a recipe has just a few ingredients, your happiness depends on using the very best you can afford.

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October 11, 2011

Recipe for roasted shrimp appetizer with spicy peanut sauce


This vibrant roasted shrimp appetizer looks like a midsummer night's dream, but with shrimp in the freezer and a few ingredients you already have in your pantry, this dream can be a midwinter reality, too. The shrimp get their bright color from turmeric, and the quick-and-easy peanut sauce from She Simmers gets its zing from Thai red curry paste. Instead of heating the oven to roast the shrimp, I grilled them on my new panini-press-griddle-waffle-gizmo with which I'm unabashedly in love. A hot oven will do the job in minutes, as will a stove-top grill pan, and you can make the peanut sauce a day or two ahead and store it in the refrigerator. The sauce recipe yields a big batch, so double or triple the quantity of shrimp and invite your friends for cocktails or a picnic.

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September 8, 2011

Recipe for raita (Indian yogurt and cucumber condiment) {vegetarian, gluten-free}


As many as there are cooks, that's the number of variations of the basic recipe for raita, the famous Indian yogurt and cucumber condiment that accompanies every meal. What they all have in common are yogurt and cucumber, two ingredients that cool the fires of the most incendiary vindaloo. Where you go from there is up to you. Mint makes frequent appearances in raita; if you have some in your garden, go ahead and add a teaspoon or so. Some cooks add caramelized onions or eggplant. This version of raita pairs perfectly with slow cooker Indian-spiced lentils. Remember that raita is a fire extinguisher, and keep the ingredients calm and soothing.

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February 20, 2011

Recipe for vegan Napa cabbage soba with spicy peanut sauce

Cabbage and pepper soba

TRUE CONFESSION: Put this spicy peanut sauce on anything -- a piece of shoe leather, marshmallows, or even the cauliflower I dislike so much -- and I will eat it. Put it on something I do like, and I will lick my plate clean. Peanuts and Japanese buckwheat noodles (soba) have a natural affinity, but this dish will be just as good with spaghetti, or whole wheat penne, or just about any type of noodle or pasta. One tip: don't stir-fry the vegetables for more than a minute. You'll like the crunch of barely-cooked Napa cabbage with the chewy soba. The recipe makes far more peanut sauce than you'll need. Store the extra in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, and use it as a dip or a dressing. You can thank me later.

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July 15, 2010

Piment d'Espelette (Recipe: grilled vegetables with piment d'Espelette sauce) {vegetarian, gluten-free}


Hatch has its chile peppers, Gilroy its garlic.

My little town in Rhode Island has no food to call its own, no festival that draws people from all over the world to celebrate its unique cuisine. We do have some pretty good pizza, but nothing that's grown here and only here.

The small town of Espelette in the Basque region of southwest France has its mildly smoky, sultry, absolutely sensational piment d'Espelette, the pepper grown nowhere else on Earth. And they have a festival every year, to celebrate the harvest.

If you can't find piment d'Espelette (unless you live near a very good market, you won't find it, but it's easy to buy online), you can substitute hot paprika, mild New Mexico red chile powder, or a combination of the two with a bit of pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika) mixed in.

Wouldn't it be more fun, though, to travel to Espelette and buy the pepper at its source?

(The festival is in late October, if we're making plans to go.)

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Welcome to The Perfect Pantry®

  • 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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