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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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November 26, 2013

Recipe for smoky pumpkin and brown rice enchiladas (with or without leftover turkey)

Smoky pumpkin and brown rice enchiladas (just add turkey!).

'Tis the season for leftovers, and there's no better way to bundle up your leftovers than in a batch of quick and easy enchiladas. I used leftover pumpkin puree and leftover brown rice to make these vegetarian enchiladas for lunch on the day after our Canadian Thanksgiving feast. If you have a few slices of turkey, shred them up a bit and tuck them inside. Stuffing and mashed potatoes instead of brown rice? Go for it. Corn tortillas instead of whole wheat? Yes, indeed. Top the whole pan with red or green enchilada sauce from the pantry, and plenty of cheese, and nobody will complain about having to eat leftovers.

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October 17, 2013

Chili powder (Recipe: turkey tacos)

First published in August 2006, this updated ingredient post features new photos and links. We love this spicy turkey filling in tacos, on salads, or as the topping for a rice bowl with a dollop of guacamole and a big plop of sour cream. 

Super easy turkey tacos.

Some like it hot.

I like it really hot.

I like it hot enough to make my scalp tingle, my sinuses drip, and my eyes water. (Do I need to mention that I'm talking about food now, not the weather?) I wasn't always like this, but a trip to New Orleans years ago started me down the pepper path, and there is no turning back.

Sometimes, though, unadulterated heat isn't the goal. When I want a more complex depth of flavor in Mexican and Southwestern dishes, I often reach for chili powder.

Are you confused by the whole chili/chile thing? Many people are, and product packaging doesn't really help, with the willy-nilly and often interchangeable use of chile, chili, chillie and chilli.

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September 5, 2013

Recipe for roasted shrimp tacos with avocado peach salsa

Roasted shrimp tacos with avocado peach salsa.

Here in New England, summer -- and everything in the garden -- comes crashing down, literally, in the first two weeks of September. Ripe peaches plop from the trees, and we hurry to scoop the last tomatoes off the vines before they fall and rot. No one wants to give up on summer, so if you're in denial, like I am, try these roasted shrimp tacos with ultra-fresh avocado peach salsa. Juicy tomatoes and peaches, and creamy avocado, dribble down your chin, in a way that makes you believe that summer can go on forever. I always have shrimp in my freezer, but if you have scallops or salmon or other mild fresh fish, go ahead and substitute. A few pickled jalapeños on top, or extra cilantro, would be great. Pack these tacos to go, for an end-of-summer beach party or picnic.

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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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