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September 17, 2014

Italian vegetable soup {vegetarian}

Italian vegetable soup, packed with garden goodness and couscous. #vegetarian

With summer nearly at an end, I decided to celebrate the change in season by stirring up a giant pot of Italian vegetable soup, full of the bits and pieces left in my friends' gardens and passed along to me: zucchini, green beans, a couple of potatoes, fennel, kale, a few heads of garlic. This soup welcomes most stragglers, in any amount, so if your garden didn't give you fennel, but did leave you with more than a few zucchini, simply use what you've got. I added canned tomatoes, which are always on my pantry shelf, but if you have fresh tomatoes, or your own home-canned stewed tomatoes, by all means use those instead. If you're gluten-free, omit the couscous. Vegans can skip the parmesan cheese. And busy moms or dads can make a batch of this soup at the beginning of the week, and add leftover chicken or turkey sausage to make quick school night dinners.

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August 31, 2014

Sliced carrot and almond salad with roasted lemon, basil and mint dressing {vegan, gluten-free}

Sliced carrot and almond salad, with a minty lemon dressing.

Sometimes, you have to test the theory that a great salad dressing can make anything -- car upholstery, old shoes, vegetables you don't love -- taste wonderful. It's not uncommon to find a bag of carrots languishing in the vegetable drawer of my refrigerator, because, to be honest, I don't love carrots. I use them in soups as part of the mire poix of aromatic vegetables, but I seldom cook them on their own, or even add them to garden greens and tomatoes. This little salad provided the ultimate test of the roasted lemon dressing I first used on cucumbers. Could the dressing make me love carrots? Yes! Is it worth the little bit of effort to roast the lemon? Yes! I don't recommend trying this dressing on shoe leather, but it just might work on cauliflower. That's my next experiment. Make this carrot salad now, while there's still plenty of mint in the garden.

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August 24, 2014

Salad Nicoise-style, with tuna, green beans, olives and potatoes {gluten-free}

Salad with lots of Nicoise ingredients: beans, olives, potatoes.

Before seeing Julia Child make it on an episode of The French Chef, way back when, I'd never heard of salade Nicoise. Julia dressed each element of the classic composed salad individually, arranged everything artfully on a platter, and presented it (to her television audience) with great fanfare. I took a few shortcuts in preparing my version, which was precipitated by the gift of some beautiful crispy green beans from my friend Donna's garden. I had fingerling potatoes left from another recipe, plus local tomatoes and some pitted kalamata olives. A hard-boiled farm egg with a golden yolk. Baby cucumbers, almost seedless. A red bell pepper. I added a small piece of roasted tuna (vegetarians can substitute chickpeas), and used my favorite balsamic vinaigrette dressing to pull together the melange of cooked and raw components. Not 100 percent authentic, but very good indeed. The recipe multiplies easily, to serve a crowd, and you can make all of the pieces ahead of time for last-minute assembly. Bon appétit!

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August 20, 2014

Favorite eggplant recipes from The Perfect Pantry {vegetarian, gluten-free}

"Poor little eggplants."

My husband Ted doesn't adore eggplant, so it's not often that I manage to incorporate it into dishes we both enjoy. At this time of year, when we're eating as much corn and tomatoes as we can -- and as much zucchini as we can stand -- it's easy to forget about eggplant, which is also at its peak right now. To make sure you don't pass over eggplant at the farm stand, here are a few of my favorite eggplant recipes, perfect for summer.

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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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