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January 25, 2015

Pressure cooker chickpea gremolata with green olives, pine nuts and raisins {vegan, gluten-free}

Chickpea gremolata with olives and raisins #vegan #glutenfree

Other than in hummus, chickpeas don't turn me on. Or they didn't, until I tried this chickpea gremolata and pumped it up with pine nuts and raisins and green olives. This dish was the kind of perfect storm that can occur when you have a perfect pantry: a long-forgotten gift package of dried chickpeas discovered on the back shelf of the cupboard; a bag of giant mixed raisins from Trader Joe's; and a pressure cooker standing empty. The best thing about this dish is the texture of the chickpeas. Without any presoaking, add the dry chickpeas to the pressure cooker, and what comes out is not in the least bit mushy or overcooked, without any canned-chickpea aftertaste. Then, toss those un-mushy chickpeas with robust fresh ingredients for a quick marriage of sweet and salty and olive oil and heat. Divine.

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January 24, 2015

Raisins: like or dislike?

My favorite golden raisins.

Welcome to Like or Dislike, where you get to share how you really feel about ingredients from the pantry, ingredients I'm thinking about adding to my pantry, other seasonal foods, even favorite cooking gear. The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell.

In the house where I grew up, raisins were everywhere: in noodle puddings, in cinnamon-raisin bread (the squishy grocery-store kind I still secretly crave), and in my lunch box almost every day. I love golden raisins, and I use them in curries, tagines and chutneys as well as oatmeal cookies and biscotti. I mix them into my Irish soda bread, though an Irish friend told me this is a major no-no. People seem to have strong feelings about raisins.

Raisins: like or dislike?

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January 21, 2015

Slow cooker shredded beef chili with beans

Slow cooker shredded beef chili, topped with guacamole and lime. Sublime!

On a cold day a few weeks ago, my husband Ted and I had pre-theater dinner with our friends Mary and Mike at our favorite across-the-street-from-the-house restaurant. We shared an appetizer-sized portion of short rib chili, just a few heavenly rich and sweet bites for each of us. When I decided to make my own version, I knew I wanted something a bit leaner; after all, some of the amazingness of the chili came from the fatty short ribs. So, instead, I used my stand-by, brisket. Coffee and cocoa give this chili a deep Mexican mole undertone. A hit of fresh lime juice at the very end is an absolute must, and a blob of guacamole on top makes the dish just about perfect. The chili freezes well, so make the full recipe and you'll be all set for weeknight dinners or that upcoming big football game.

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January 18, 2015

Turkey, brie, roasted red pepper and arugula panini with honey mustard sauce

Turkey, creamy brie, roasted red pepper, spicy arugula: piled into one great sandwich!

Nothing, but nothing, beats a really great grilled cheese sandwich. If you've seen the movie Chef, you know how much of an event a grilled cheese sandwich can be. Like the dad in the movie, my father was our family's official grilled cheese master, carefully buttering white bread, precisely positioning a few square slices of yellow cheese, pressing it flat under a plate in a frying pan on the stove, tending it until the bread turned perfectly golden. Well, that was a bit of heaven to me. Nowadays my grilled cheese creations tend to end up in the panini press, and there's usually more between the pieces of bread than just one type of cheese. Greens, meats, multiple cheeses, roasted vegetables: anything goes. In this sandwich, the honey-mustard sauce marries the mild turkey and cheese with the spicy arugula and red pepper. You can swap rotisserie chicken for the turkey.

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January 17, 2015

Coarse sea salt: like or dislike?

Coarse sea salt.

Welcome to Like or Dislike, where you get to share how you really feel about ingredients from the pantry, ingredients I'm thinking about adding to my pantry, other seasonal foods, even favorite cooking gear. The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell.

In the house where I grew up, salt was salt. We had one kind of salt -- the iodized stuff -- and we put it on, and in, everything. I didn't learn about sea salt until ten years ago; now, it's my very favorite salt for adding a stylish finish to grilled vegetables and meats, and there's nothing better on top of a gooey brownie or a tart green salad. Kosher salt is my everyday salt for cooking and baking, but the crunchy crystals of a nice fleur de sel or grey sea salt can take your food to new heights. Are you a fan of sea salt? Do you have lots of different salts in your pantry?

Coarse sea salt: like or dislike?

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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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