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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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September 7, 2014

Green herb and kale risotto, pressure cooker or stovetop {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Green herb risotto with kale (pressure cooker or stovetop).

In September 2007, when I first posted this recipe for green herb risotto, life was simpler. My herb garden consisted of a few tiny beds, with one plant of this, and one of that. I didn't own a pressure cooker; in fact, I still lived in fear of them. And I hadn't fully embraced kale; the earlier recipe calls for spinach and zucchini, in keeping with the green theme. Seven years later, things have changed. My herb garden overflows with all five of the herbs used in this risotto recipe and dozens more. I fearlessly use my electric pressure cooker at least once a week, to keep the kitchen cool and to speed up dishes like this one. And kale? Well, I love it, and I prefer its more assertive flavor. So, as times have changed, this green risotto recipe has changed a bit. I'm giving you pressure cooker directions here. For the stovetop version, please click through to the original recipe.

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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 27, 2014

Cinnamon chocolate crinkle cookies

My capable assistant helped make these chocolate crinkle cookies.

RIDDLE: How many cooks does it take to make cinnamon chocolate crinkle cookies? Answer: three. You definitely want to have two granddaughters with you in the kitchen, because the cookies just come out better that way. The one who can read organizes the dry ingredients, while the other measures the sugar and cracks the eggs into a bowl. You get to do the hard stuff, like turning on the stand mixer. And when it's time to form the cookies, one girl wields the ice cream scoop to portion out the cookies, one rolls the balls of dough in cinnamon sugar, and you do the hot oven maneuvers. These cookies were a spur-of-the-moment activity for us (hence the iPhone photos), and we didn't want to run to the store for any ingredients. The original recipe calls for chocolate chips, but we didn't have any, and the cookies really don't need them. We added some cinnamon into the dough, for a slightly more complex flavor, and the cookies were a huge hit. You have everything you need -- except two of my favorite kitchen assistants -- right in your own perfect pantry.

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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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