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November 16, 2014

Warm Brussels sprouts, almond and goat cheese salad with maple mustard dressing {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Warm Brussels sprouts salad with almonds and goat cheese. #Thanksgiving #vegetarian #glutenfree

I'd forgotten how much my husband Ted loves Brussels sprouts until I watched him devour a bowl of this salad for lunch the other day. I don't love them quite as much, but I could bathe in the warm maple syrup and mustard dressing that gives these particular Brussels sprouts their sweet, tangy character. Country-style grainy Dijon, speckled with whole mustard seeds, adds texture to the dressing, which is made right in the pan with the vegetables. For a holiday meal, do your prep ahead of time, and cook the sprouts at the last minute. The heat of the sprouts will melt the cheese just a little bit. If you don't like goat cheese, use feta, or omit cheese for a vegan salad. Substitute cashews or pecans for the almonds. You'll want to serve this salad warm -- not hot, and definitely not cold. It's perfect for the holiday table, yet quick and easy enough for an everyday side dish with chicken, fish, or steak.

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November 12, 2014

Creamy mushroom gravy {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Creamy mushroom gravy, #vegetarian and #glutenfree.

Uh-oh. You just found out a couple of vegetarians are coming for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving, the most turkey-centric holiday of the year. Do not be afraid; you really can provide your non-meat-eating guests with the same great holiday experience as the carnivores. After all, Thanksgiving is about the side dishes: mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce. And all of those are basically meatless, except the gravy. Here's a great vegetarian alternative, one I always serve in addition to traditional turkey gravy. A mix of wild mushrooms gives this gravy the "meaty" richness of turkey drippings; cream and a cornstarch slurry add the requisite viscosity to slither over mounds of mashed potatoes and stuffing. Make this a few days ahead, and store in the refrigerator in a tightly-closed container. Reheat before serving, and season as needed with salt and pepper. (For more vegetarian-friendly holiday recipes, including main dishes that everyone will enjoy, check out my e-cookbook, Meatless Holidays.)

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November 2, 2014

Spanish rice with onion, garlic and bell peppers {gluten-free}

Spanish rice, a perfect kid-friendly side dish with beef, chicken or fish.  #glutenfree

Oh, the places you can go with this basic Spanish rice -- which isn't Spanish at all, to be honest. It's American, or Southwestern, or Mexican, depending on what you add to it. Some recipes call for canned tomato with its juice, which can overwhelm the dish and make it taste like a can of tomato rice soup, or maybe a 1950s school cafeteria lunch. Here, the emphasis stays on the rice; the combination of fresh tomatoes and slow-roasted tomatoes (made with garlic and thyme) adds depth of flavor, without drowning out the toasted grain's nutty flavor and firm texture. As is, this is a family-friendly side dish that makes it fun to eat your colors. Mix-ins can transform it into a one-pot main course; add mild or hot fresh or canned chile peppers, chorizo or your favorite sausage, shrimp, leftover rotisserie chicken, meatballs, or cubes of grilled pork or beef. Olé!

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September 24, 2014

Roasted beet risotto with goat cheese and beet greens, pressure cooker or stovetop {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Roasted beet risotto with goat cheese and beet greens. #vegetarian #glutenfree

In high school chemistry class, my lab partner, Bill, did all of the experiments, and I handled the write-ups. This division of labor served us well, as it had the previous year in biology lab, except that I had the hardest time describing the colors of whatever concoction was reacting in the test tube. Orangish-yellow? Reddish-purple? Bill and I struggled over what to name our colors. (Obviously, neither of us grew up to work for Benjamin Moore paints or J. Crew, where we could have gotten a whole lot more creative with color names.) I don't know how to describe the color of this roasted beet risotto, either. Red? Pink? Salmon? Reddish-pinkish-salmon? It's gorgeous, I'll say that, and the photos really do show its beauty. However, for the taste, which is also glorious and and creamy and a bit sweet from the roasted beets, you'll have to make it yourself. If goat cheese isn't your thing, you can substitute feta, but feta doesn't melt, so your risotto will be more red. Reddish-purple. Oh, you know.

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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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