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February 25, 2014

Recipe for roasted chickpea salad with creamy tahini dressing {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Roasted chickpea salad (deconstructed hummus!), from The Perfect Pantry

HERE'S THE THING: I love hummus -- the creamy, garlicky, nutty Middle Eastern spread made with chickpeas and tahini -- but I don't really love chickpeas. It's got to be a texture issue because, well... I love hummus. So, a couple of weeks ago I had the idea to take hummus apart and put it back together, to see if I could combine all of the flavors I love in a dish that would help me love chickpeas, and what I created was this simple salad. Roasting the chickpeas gave them just enough crunch to change the texture but not the flavor, and all the remaining components of hummus went into the dressing. I added some crisp chopped iceberg lettuce, which seemed perfect. You could keep going and pile on more fixings like olives, tomatoes and cucumber, to make a main course salad.

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February 18, 2014

Tofu and Brussels sprouts fried rice recipe {vegan}

Tofu and Brussels sprouts fried rice (#vegan), from The Perfect Pantry.

To be honest, if it weren't for my occasional complete and utter laziness in the kitchen, I might never have considered Brussels sprouts for any stir-fry dish. Yes, it's easy to trim the woody bottoms of a few sprouts and thinly slice them for this recipe, but it's even easier to grab a package of shaved Brussels sprouts from the grocery store shelf. I'm not a huge fan of cruciferous vegetables, so to get them into my diet, I cook them with seasonings I know I will like. There are a dozen fried rice recipes on The Perfect Pantry, and now a baker's dozen, as this tofu and Brussels sprouts fried rice is going into permanent rotation in my kitchen. With a quick stir-fry, the sprouts turn bright green and sweet, making them irresistible, even to me. If you don't like tofu, you can swap in any other protein (shrimp, pork, even leftover rotisserie chicken). Remember to cook your rice ahead of time, so it can cool; you can make it days ahead, and store it in the refrigerator. If your rice is pre-cooked, and you sneak into the grocery store for a package of shaved Brussels sprouts, this dish comes together in minutes.

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February 16, 2014

Recipe for Costa Rican gallo pinto (black beans and rice) {vegan, gluten-free}

Gallo pinto (Costa Rican black beans and rice), with scrambled eggs for breakfast.

On every vacation my husband Ted and I have ever taken, one element of the local cuisine defined the entire trip. In Malaysia, I greeted every morning with mee goreng (fried noodles) for breakfast, in restaurants or from street carts; in Brazil, pao de queijo, cheese balls made of manioc, appeared everywhere with breakfast or afternoon coffee. Recently, on vacation in Costa Rica, gallo pinto was the constant. Throughout the country, there are beans (red or black), and there is rice (always white). And then there is gallo pinto, black beans and rice combined with some of the bean cooking water, garlic and bell peppers. You'll never see it with red bell peppers, but I like the color; green peppers are the norm. Cook the rice and beans separately, ahead of time (even a few days ahead), and reserve some of the bean cooking water in a small jar in the refrigerator. Then, toss the dish together in minutes, just before you're ready to serve. It's common to eat gallo pinto for breakfast, with eggs and plantains, or later in the day, with grilled fish or chicken.

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February 6, 2014

Instant couscous (Recipe: sweet couscous for a crowd) {vegetarian}

Originally published in August 2006, this updated ingredient post features new photos and links. The recipe -- so simple, I feel funny calling it a recipe -- is something I've been making for decades. It's a perfect accompaniment to spicy chicken or vegetable stews.

Sweet couscous with raisins and pine nuts (The Perfect Pantry).

Last winter, I treated my kitchen to a couscoussier, a double-decker pot used to create traditional Moroccan stews and couscous. The stew goes in the bottom, and rising steam infuses and plumps the couscous resting in the perforated top compartment.

It's a beautiful thing, but I have yet to use it.

I tried. I really did. My cooking group made a menu called Preserving the Lemon, which included three dishes inspired by Moroccan cuisine. We used our tagines, but when it came time to set up the couscoussier — and start the slow process of rinsing, drying, steaming and steaming again — we looked at each other and, in unison, said, "Instant couscous!"

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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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