First published in July 2006, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. I've been making these veggies for more than twenty years, and I've never tired of the fresh flavor and crunch of lightly-cooked vegetables in a pan vinaigrette. All of the ingredients are available year-round, so you can bring color to the table even in mid-winter.
Kalamata, picholine, frantoio, arbequina, souri ... I've never met an olive I didn't want to take home, but good old black olives in a can are the only ones that merit a permanent place in my pantry.
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When I was a little girl, my maternal grandparents, the ones who owned a wholesale toy business (lucky me!), lived in a small brick rowhouse in Brooklyn. I loved two things about that house: the garage where my grandfather would park his car, leaving the trunk unlocked so we could paw through the toy samples on our Sunday visits; and the pear tree in the tiny back yard. I'm still partial to the pear sauce my grandmother used to make, with a just hint of cinnamon. Had she owned a slow cooker, I think Grandma might have liked this chai-spiced pear sauce, too. The warm spices (cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and cloves) transform pears, which are often a bit bland unless they are perfectly ripe, into a sophisticated version of the ultimate comfort food. On its own or topped with vanilla ice cream, this pear sauce makes a classy dessert or afterschool snack.
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Once upon a time, I didn't need a scorecard to remember my family's culinary preferences. Now that I'm firmly entrenched in middle age, I forget who loves olives, who hates mushrooms, who likes tomatoes on their pizza and who won't eat anything green. So, it was inevitable that, when I cooked a big holiday dinner for my stepson and grandkids, I would get something wrong, and I came home with three pounds of leftover mashed sweet potatoes that none of the kids would touch. Lucky me: I turned those already-mashed potatoes into this rich and creamy Indian-spiced sweet potato soup. It's vegan and gluten-free, and you can make it even if you don't have leftovers. Top each individual bowl with traditional curry garnishes (cashews, raisins, chopped apple or shredded coconut) to create a hearty one-dish meal.
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When I saw a recipe for raw beets and butternut slaw on Apron Strings, the vivid colors grabbed me, and I knew the idea of beets with a maple syrup dressing would grab my husband Ted. Though I've eaten many a raw beet, I was a bit skeptical about the squash. Shame on me for not trying it sooner; crispy, crunchy raw butternut rocked my world. This salad debuted on our Thanksgiving table, and it's been a wonderful low-calorie addition to the meager winter salad repertoire. Squash can be treacherous to break down on a box grater or with a mandoline, so use a food processor fitted with a shredding disc. Remember not to toss the slaw with the dressing until the very last minute, or the beets will turn everything pink.
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