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October 4, 2015

White bean and sun-dried tomato dip or sandwich spread {vegan, gluten-free}

White bean and sun-dried tomato dip makes a great sandwich filling, too! #vegan #glutenfree

Over the summer, I spent a few days here and there in the hospital, getting some parts replaced. In my hospital bag I'd packed a small notebook where I write down ideas for recipes to try (I always have a notebook with me; I'm old-fashioned that way), and a couple of weeks ago I was reading through those notes with my grandson Aiden, who has a bit of interest in cooking and likes to cook with me. When I read my note about this recipe -- written under the influence of a serious dose of anesthesia -- Aiden laughed out loud, because what I'd written was, white bean and sun-dried tomato thing with interesting spices. What, he asked, were interesting spices, and what was a thing? Fair enough questions, and this recipe turned out to be the answer. The spices could be any combination of what you like: cumin and coriander, thyme and oregano, harissa with cinnamon, but I chose to go a smoky, slighty spicy route. The dip is great with cucumber slices, and works just as well tucked into a pita with those cucumbers, plus crispy lettuce and some black olives. If you have your own slow-roasted tomatoes in the freezer, by all means swap those for the sun-dried tomatoes, and the dip will be even better.

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September 13, 2015

Black bean, vegetable and cashew salad with sesame-ginger dressing {vegan, gluten-free}

Black bean, vegetable and cashew salad with an Asian twist! Great for potluck, and #glutenfree.

Nine times out of ten, when you have black beans in a dish, you find the seasonings of the warm Southwest and Central America: cumin, cilantro, chile peppers, chili powder. It makes sense, of course, because black beans come from that part of the world. This black bean, vegetable and cashew salad takes a different route, one that travels right through my Asian pantry, and the result will surprise and delight you. I use my pressure cooker to make large batches of black beans, and refrigerate or freeze them for quick and easy salads, soups and stews. Canned black beans make a fine substitute. For crunch, cucumbers, bell peppers, or almost any other vegetable will do (carrots? radishes?). Whip up a sesame-inspired dressing from ingredients you probably always have on hand. I use tamari or gluten-free soy sauce to keep the dish gluten-free; substitute any reduced-sodium soy or light soy sauce (dark soy contains molasses, so if you use it, eliminate the sugar in the recipe). As with most bean salads, this one benefits from a bit of a rest before serving, to allow the beans to absorb some of the dressing. You can make the salad a few hours ahead; add the cashews right before you serve, and they'll stay nice and crunchy. Great for potlucks or picnics.

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September 6, 2015

Frittata with broccoli and garden herbs {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Frittata with broccoli and herbs makes a perfect worknight dinner!

In the nine years since I first published this recipe on The Perfect Pantry, my cooking style has changed. My kitchen has changed. My feelings about broccoli have changed, too; I feel more kindly toward it now. So it seemed likely, when I revisited the recipe to add new photos, that I'd want to make some changes in the ingredients, or cooking method, or something. Guess what? I love the recipe just as it is. Frittatas are the favorite spur-of-the-moment weeknight dinner in our house; you can throw in any leftovers, any vegetables, any herbs, and the frittata will always come through for you. For the original recipe, I plucked basil and parsley from my herb garden at the log house, but here in the city, I bought some nice-enough herbs at the supermarket, and they were fine. Refrigerate any leftover frittata, and enjoy it for breakfast the next morning after a one-minute zap in the microwave.

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August 23, 2015

Chickenless chicken chili: how to rock the taste, but lose the meat {vegetarian}

Floribean bean chili: how to turn a favorite chicken recipe into a meatless wonder!

Susan, a long-time reader of The Perfect Pantry, wasn't always a vegetarian. She often writes to me about how she's changed up one of my recipes to fit her current way of eating. Susan lives in New Hampshire, where she and her husband formerly owned a health food store. She's a wonderfully creative cook, and the first person ever to tell me that she made my beef brisket recipe -- without the beef! Intrigued, I asked her to share more about how she approaches adapting meat recipes for her meat-free lifestyle. This is Susan's first guest post for The Perfect Pantry.

I might be an anomaly. I’m a vegetarian who seeks out meat recipes. Selectively, yes... but why?

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August 16, 2015

Basil ricotta bruschetta with pan-burst grapes {vegetarian}

Basil ricotta bruschetta with pan-burst grapes: appetizer or dessert.

Park a giant bowl of fruit salad on the dining table, and my husband Ted and I both go for the cantaloupe and honeydew chunks, and any odd things like kiwi. He'll take the mango; I'll claim the watermelon. And we never fight over the grapes. I could eat grapes all day, every day, in the way one might chomp on peanut M&Ms all day, every day, but cold grapes are not Ted's thing. However, set those grapes in a frying pan over low heat, shake-shake-shake the pan every now and then until the grapes burst and their sweet juices ooze out, and spoon them over some seasoned ricotta cheese, and Ted is there, all in. These warm grapes barely resemble the fresh grapes I eat like candy; they become a grape "sauce" once they've popped open, not as sweet as grape jelly but every bit as spreadable. We've enjoyed these bruschetta as a first course, and as dessert. You can toast the bread, and mix the cheese, ahead of time, and assemble at the last minute when the pan of grapes is ready. Use any variety of seedless grapes, or a mix of red, green and black.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives. Thanks so much for visiting.

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