How to Make Fresh Spring Rolls

How to Make fresh spring rolls
Vegetarian spring rolls

Mastering fresh spring rolls is easier than it looks.

These fresh treats are an easy and fun way to eat more vegetables. Assemble them before dinner and keep them moist by covering with a damp paper towel, or, if you want to make the meal interactive, let everyone wrap their own at the table.

Spring Roll Ingredients

It’s not a fresh spring roll unless it’s wrapped in rice paper. Rice paper sheets are made from white rice flour, tapioca flour, salt, and water. They’re sold as thin dry sheets and can be found in most major grocery stores, or online. To use, simply soften in water, stuff with your choice of fillings, and roll up. The rice paper will stick to itself as it dries.

Fresh Spring Roll Filling Ideas

There are infinite ways to stuff a spring roll. Traditional fillings include mint, tofu, shredded chicken, thinly sliced carrots, and cooked cellophane noodles, but the list doesn’t stop there.

We love slice avocado and cucumbers in vegetarian spring rolls, or pan-seared shrimp for a seafood variation. You could also use leftover chicken. Just shred the meat and wrap it up along with fresh lettuce for a little crunch.

How to Roll Spring Rolls

Rolling fresh spring rolls is easy! Start with your dried rice paper. Fill a shallow bowl or dish with warm water. Working one at a time, completely submerge each rice paper wrapper in the water for 30 to 40 seconds, or until soft and pliable. Transfer the moistened wrapper to a clean, dry work surface. Place a few pieces of carrot and cucumber, a few slices of avocado, a small handful of noodles and a few lettuce, cilantro and basil leaves in the middle of the moistened wrapper. Fold the bottom half of the wrapper over the filling, pressing down to create a seal, then fold the sides of the wrapper towards the center, tucking in the filling. Gently roll up the wrapper (just like a burrito). Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.

Tips for Making Spring Rolls

  1. Use water. Fill a shallow bowl or dish with warm water. Before filling, completely submerge each rice paper wrapper in the water for 30 to 40 seconds, or until soft and pliable.
  2. Go one at a time. Once you’ve soaked your wrapper, it’s both pliable and fragile. That means, you’ll want to work fast. Fill and roll a single summer roll, then set it aside before moving onto the second, third, and so on.
  3. Don’t overfill. The less you stuff the wrappers, the easier each portion will be to roll. If you’re having trouble, try removing up about a quarter of the planned filling before you roll, even if that looks surprisingly spare.
  4. Keep a kitchen towel on hand. We found it useful to dry off our work surface in between each roll, since dipping the wraps in water will leave you with a slippery workspace.
  5. Be a one-man or one-woman assembly line. Make like a robot to keep things precise. Here’s your task: on your moistened wrapper, place a few pieces of carrot and cucumber, a few slices of avocado, a small handful of noodles and a few lettuce, cilantro and basil leaves in the middle of the moistened wrapper. Fold the bottom half of the wrapper over the filling, pressing down to create a seal, then fold the sides of the wrapper towards the center, tucking in the filling.

Fresh Spring Roll Recipes

Get started with these two easy recipes

Vegetarian Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

Shrimp Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

Shrimp Summer Rolls  with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

Watch the video to see how it’s done:

How to Prepare a Half Chicken

What’s more comforting than a roasted chicken? For many of our chefs, it’s their go-to Sunday dinner. Pair it with a salad or crispy potatoes, and a roasted bird can be a healthy and satisfying meal. Follow this guide and learn how to roast and carve a half chicken at home. It’s a skill you’ll use over and over again. 

half chicken with roasted potatoes and salad
Half of the chicken, all of the fun

When it comes to roasting, a bone-in skin-on chicken just brings more flavor. The skin is crispy and flavorful, the pan drippings can be used to make delicious dressings and sauces, and the bones can be reserved for stock.

To make this dinner possible, Blue Apron partnered with Pasturebird to send sustainably-raised high-quality half chickens. Even though we love a whole bird, there are some advantages to working with half chicken at home. Once it’s butchered, a half chicken can lay down flat, so it will cook more evenly. We recommend roasting cut side down, which means that you’ll get as much crispy skin as possible, since it’s all exposed to the air. 

Carving a half chicken is a cinch: all you need is a sturdy knife and a few tips. We separate ours into four pieces so that it’s easy to serve. 

carve a half chicken
Separating the leg and thigh

To get started, use a sharp, sturdy knife to cut along the leg of the roasted and rested chicken, separating the thigh and breast. Cut the breast in half crosswise through the bone (keeping the wing intact), to form two pieces. Watch the video below for a step by step demonstration.

To separate the drumstick and the thigh, the trick is finding the joint. Just wiggle the drumstick and place the knife right at the connecting point. This way, you’re not trying to saw through bone. With a little pressure and a sturdy knife, the drumstick should pop away easily. If you like, you can also cut through the joint connecting the wing to the breast. 

Serve the carved chicken with salads, crusty breads, savory pan sauces, or roasted vegetables.

A Guide to Cooking with Wine

chicken thighs cooked in wine
Chicken thighs braised in white wine

Cooking with wine is a great way to add complexity to sauces, soups, and braises. This is a crash course in cooking with wine, designed to help you figure out how to choose a bottle and what to do with it. 

What type of wine should I cook with?

When it comes to choosing a wine the golden rule is this: don’t cook with anything that you wouldn’t want to drink. It’s simple! If you don’t enjoy the flavors of wine in the glass, you won’t enjoy them in your dinner. 

Cooking wine vs. Wine

The “cooking wine” that you’ll find in grocery stores next to the vinegars won’t provide the flavor you need. To be marketed as a food item, this wine is often full of extra salts and other ingredients. 

Does all of the alcohol really cook off? 

Alcohol starts to evaporate at 172°F. That’s much lower than the boiling point of water, which is 212°F. However not all of the alcohol will instantly evaporate the moment your dish starts to simmer. Exactly how much alcohol evaporates depends on heat, cooking time, and the surface area of the cooking vessel. It is generally estimated that between 60% and 95% percent of the alcohol added will cook off. 

Don’t forget fortified wine 

Fortified wines are wines that have been fortified with the addition of a stronger alcohol. These are wines like sherry, Madeira, and marsala. These wines are often aged with some oxygen exposure, which gives them a rich and nutty flavor profile, they can add wonderful complexity to soups and creamy sauces.

How to Cook with Wine

cooking three dishes with wine
Deglazed Pinot Noir pan sauce, red wine-poached cherries (recipes below), and braised chicken thighs

Braise 

Braising is a low and slow cooking method that yields tender delicious meats and vegetables. Braising starts by searing meat and or vegetables until they are brown, covering in liquid, and then cooking slowly using low heat.The liquid that you choose will have a big impact on the flavor of your finished dish. Common braising liquids include broth, wine, beer, and juice. 

Using wine in your braising liquid will add a complex depth to your finished product. Choose a red wine to stand up to the flavor of rich meats, or a white wine to complement delicate chicken and vegetables. 


Deglaze

Deglazing is a simple way to maximize flavor. This technique saves you effort by capitalizing on the work that you already did while you were cooking your main dish. After searing up a protein, you’ll notice some dark caramelized bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. This layer is called the fond. It might look like a stain, but it’s actually super-concentrated with flavor. Deglazing incorporates the fond back into the dish by dissolving it in a liquid like stock or wine. 

To make a pan sauce by deglazing, start with the pan over low-heat. Add a pat of butter and a glug of wine. Then simply stir until the wine is reduced, and most of the caramelization has become unstuck from the pan. Spoon this over your main dish, and any weeknight dinner will feel like a special occasion. 

Try deglazing at home with this Pinot Noir Pan Sauce recipe

Cook Time: 10-15 min

Serves 2

Ingredients: 

  • Your Favorite Protein (2 Steaks, 2 Chicken Breast or Thighs, 2 Pork Chops) 
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 cup Blue Apron Pinot Noir (Such as the 20186 Anthesis)
  • 2 oz chicken stock
  • 4 Tbsps butter
  • Optional: ¼ tsp sherry or red wine vinegar

Method: 

  1. In a medium pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Cook your desired protein. Leaving any browned bits (or fond) in the pan, transfer to a cutting board. 
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the pan of reserved fond. Add the minced shallot. Cook on medium-high, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until slightly softened. 
  3. Add the wine (carefully, as the liquid may splatter). Cook, stirring occasionally, 7 to 9 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced to about 1 to 2 tablespoons. 
  4. Add the chicken stock. Cook, stirring occasionally, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the liquid has reduced by half. 
  5. Turn off the heat. Add the butter and vinegar (if using). Stir until thoroughly combined and the butter is melted. Taste, then season with salt and pepper if desired. Enjoy!

Poach 

Poaching is a gentle technique that involves cooking a protein, vegetable, or fruit in liquid over medium heat. Poaching is done at a much lower temperature than boiling, resulting in a more tender final product.

Wine-poaching is a variation of this technique where the protein or vegetable is simmered in wine. Using wine in this application will add a pleasant fruitiness and beautiful color to your dish.

Try this method with this recipe for Red Wine-Poached Cherries

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

Cook Time: 35 to 45 minutes

Serves: 8 to 10

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb cherries
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • ½-inch piece ginger
  • 1 piece cheesecloth (4-inch by 4-inch)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1  500ml bottle of Blue Apron Red Wine or any French Syrah (we recommend Domaine du Maridet GSM of Languedoc-Roussillon)
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Ice cream, mascarpone cheese, whipped cream, or goat cheese (to serve)

Method:

  1. Stem and pit the cherries, reserving both the stems and pits. Place the stems, pits, peppercorns, and ginger on the piece of cheesecloth. Tie tightly into a pouch (or sachet).
  2. In a medium pot, combine water, wine, sugar, and sachet. Heat to a simmer, then turn down to low. Add stemmed and pitted cherries and cook 20 to 30 minutes, or until tender. 
  3. Reserving the liquid, strain the poached cherries; transferto a large jar or airtight container and set aside. Return the reserved liquid to the same pot. Heat to boiling on high. Cook until the liquid has reduced by 2/3 and begins to coat the back of a spoon. Turn off the heat. Stir in the red wine vinegar. Pour the liquid over the poached cherries. Cool completely.
  4. Serve the poached cherries (including any liquid) over ice cream, mascarpone, whipped cream or goat cheese. Cherries will keep stored in the jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Enjoy!

The easiest way to cook with wine? Just have a glass while you prepare your meal. Get your new favorite wine delivered to your home with Blue Apron.

How to Cook Rice Like Pasta

rice cooked like pasta
Straining brown rice

Honestly, rice makes us a little emotional. Rice was one of the first cultivated foods in the world, and it’s the fundamental base of many different cuisines that we love. Rice has spread all over the world since it was first cultivated over 13,000 years ago. Today, there are nearly 40,000 cultivars of rice, and almost as many cooking methods. If you have a tried and true rice method that you love, stick with it! If you’re never happy with the way your rice turns out, consider this tip: try cooking rice like pasta. 

Well-cooked rice should be soft, but not mushy. Each grain should retain its individual structure, but it shouldn’t be too dry. Overcooked rice will boil apart into a soupy mess. Undercooked rice won’t absorb sauce as well, and can cause digestive issues. We have six different types of rice in our pantry: white long grain, jasmine, brown, carnaroli, sushi, and a red rice blend. These rices all have slightly different husks, starches, and protein content. All of this affects the cooking time and technique. 

How to cook rice like pasta:

  • Fill a medium pot ¾ of the way full with water
  • Add a generous pinch of salt 
  • Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat
  • Add rice and cook, uncovered, until tender
  • Turn off the heat, drain the rice thoroughly, and return to the pot for seasoning, or serve 

This takes about 10-13 minutes for long grain white rice, but will take less time if the rice has been parboiled. Check the instructions on the packaging to confirm. 

The advantage of this method is clear. When you cook rice like pasta you don’t have to double check the ratio of water to rice, or measure the water. You also don’t have to watch the stove quite as closely, since there’s no risk of the bottom burning. If you’ve had trouble with steamed rice in the past, give this technique a spin with one of these recipes:

Chicken & Coconut Curry over Brown Rice

chicken curry on rice

Togarashi Chicken & Brown Rice Bowls with Roasted Squash & Miso-Sesame Dressing

chicken and vegetables on rice

Chicken & Brown Rice Bowl with Marinated Vegetables & Sambal Sauce

rice bowl

How to Make Baked Potatoes

future baked potatoes
Five potatoes, endless possibilities

A potato can make any meal complete. Whether your salmon and broccoli are looking lonely, or you’re looking for something to bury under chili, a humble baked potato is the way to make an average dinner into a filling feast. When it comes to actually baking a potato, you have a few options. 

Making a Baked Potato in the Microwave

There’s no doubt that microwaving a baked potato will save you time. Depending on the size of your spud, it probably only needs about 5 minutes to cook completely in the microwave.

To try this method at home, start with a clean potato. Using a fork or knife, poke several holes all over the surface of the potato. Don’t skip this step! Ventilating the potato will keep it from exploding in the microwave. 

Place the potato on a plate, and microwave it for 5 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a knife into the potato. It should be easy to insert the knife all the way to the center. If the potato still feels hard in the middle, microwave in 30 second increments until it is soft. Let the potato rest for 5 minutes before attempting to cut open and eat. The inside of the potato will be piping hot. Steam generated during cooking also creates pressure, so the potato could actually burst open if punctured suddenly.

The obvious downside here is that a microwave simply cannot make things crispy. If your favorite part of a baked potato is the crispy skin, then a microwave alone will not yield the results that you want. 

baked potato with sour cream
Can’t go wrong with sour cream and chives

Making a Baked Potato in the Oven

This method takes significantly longer. You’re looking at about 1 hour before that potato reaches your plate, but you’ll be rewarded with a soft potato covered in crispy skin. To make a baked potato in the oven, start by preheating your oven to 450°F. Use a fork to pierce the skin of the potato several times to create vents for escaping steam. Place the potato on a tray and bake for 1 hour. Remove the potato, slice open, and top as you see fit. 

Quick & Crispy Skin Baked Potato 

If you’re looking for speed and cripiness, your best bet is a combination method. To do this, preheat your oven to 450°F. While the oven is heating, poke holes all over your potato and microwave for 5 minutes. 

Remove the potato and brush the surface with olive oil. Transfer the potato to the oven, and leave until the skin reaches your desired crispness. 

Baked Potato Toppings

A baked potato is like a blank canvas. They’re delicious with just butter and salt, but if you’re feeling inspired you can top yours off with chili, sour cream, cheese, or just about anything.

How to Make Broth from Scratch

Once you understand the basic formula for making broth at home, you’ll start seeing potential soup everywhere in your kitchen. Those onion tops you were going to throw away? Save them for broth. The picked-clean bones of that rotisserie chicken? Absolutely save for broth. Past its prime parsley? Say it with us: Save! For! Broth!

There’s truly no downside to making broth at home. Throwing cooking scraps into a pot reduces food waste and rewards the cook with a comforting bowl of soup. All you need to get started is this basic formula: Broth = bones + vegetables + seasonings + water 

That’s it! If you combine bones, vegetables, seasonings, and water in a large pot and set it over heat for a few hours, we guarantee that you will end up with broth. The flavor and texture are determined by what you add. 

Homemade Broth Ingredients

Bones 

Animal bones bring flavor, fat, and texture to the pot. The most commonly used bones are chicken and beef, but there’s no reason you couldn’t throw a ham hock into the mix. You can use either raw or roasted bones. Raw bones will provide a more pure meat flavor, while roasted bones (eg: from a rotisserie chicken), will yield a richer flavor and darker colored final product. 

You can buy bones from a butcher and use them for broth, but it’s extremely rewarding to make a broth using the bones leftover from another homemade meal. If you’re not ready to cook again right away, just store them in the freezer until you’re in the mood for soup. 

Vegetables 

how to make broth with onions
Onion scraps are prime ingredients

Many broths start with a mirepoix—a classic mixture of carrots, celery and onion—but the vegetable additions don’t have to end there. Broth can include any other veggie scraps you may have. Things like leeks, garlic skins, shallots, and mushrooms all add delicious flavor. Some vegetarian broths add squash or sweet potatoes. These will add flavor, and the starch will provide some texture as well. 

Herbs & seasonings 

thyme for broth
Make it your own with herbs

This is where you can customize and have a little fun. Whole spices like peppercorns can be added as soon as you add the water. Delicate herbs like parsley and thyme should be added closer to the end of the cooking time. 

If you know what you want to make with your broth, you can customize the flavor to suit the dish. For a minestrone or an Italian-inspired braise, consider adding thyme and red pepper flakes. For Asian-inspired dishes, try adding a stick of cinnamon or some star anise. 

Cooking Instructions

To cook, add your bones, vegetables, and seasonings to a large pot and fill 3/4 of the way with cold water. Bring the pot a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat so that the mixture is just simmering, and cook for several hours. Aim for about 4 hours for chicken broth and 8 hours for beef, but don’t be afraid to let it go all day. The longer it simmers the more collagen will be extracted from the bones. Collagen makes your broth thicker. 

You can mostly leave the broth unattended while it simmers, but check in occasionally to skim the fat off the top with a spoon. After you’re done cooking, turn off the heat and strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any impurities. 

How to Make Vegetarian Broth

If you’d like to make vegetarian broth, you can still follow this formula, just don’t add the bones. Double down on adding more of your favorite vegetables and spices for a flavorful finished product. Cover with water and simmer for 2 to 3 hours. 

That’s it.Your homemade broth can keep in the fridge for 2-4 days. You can drink on its own, use it for homemade soups and stews, try it as a braising liquid, or use it as a base for flavorful sauces. 

How to Thicken Soup

italian wedding soup
Meatball soup with ditalini

When there’s a chill in the air, a little broth is always the answer. Whether it takes the form of hearty bowl of chicken noodle or a spicy tortilla broth, There’s nothing like a bowl of soup to warm you from the inside out. One of the best parts of making soup is that it’s easy to tweak it as you go along. If you finish making your dinner and it doesn’t have the texture you want, don’t despair. Here are a few methods you can use to thicken soup and create a satisfying meal.

How to thicken soup with cornstarch

The most classic and surefire way to thicken a broth-based soup is with a cornstarch slurry. Whisk together equal parts cornstarch (or arrowroot) and water or broth, then whisk it into the pot of soup. A good ratio to get to a pleasant thickness without your soup tasting goopy or heavy is one tablespoon. slurry to 4 cups of soup.

Buzz it with a blender 

thicken soup with blender
Pureed squash soup

Try this with a vegetable or bean based soup. Strain out ½ the solids in your soup, blend until fairly smooth, and then transfer back into the main soup. If you have an immersion blender, you can also use that.

Starch it up with potatoes 

To thicken soup with potatoes, just add diced potatoes to the pot and let them simmer in the broth until they are tender and beginning to break up. The starch from the potatoes will help thicken the soup. You can also cook things like rice, small pasta like ditalini, or quinoa directly in your soup. The starch released in the cooking process will help thicken the soup. If you don’t have any of these on hand, a can or two of beans, unrinsed, added to the soup will do the trick.

Make a bread soup

thicken soup with bread
Bread in a soup is the definition of comfort

Do like the Tuscans do and make it a bread soup. The Italians are masters of using stale bread to thicken soups. To try this, just tear up some bread and add it to a bubbling broth. Stir regularly and the bread will break down and thicken the soup. This will create a loose pudding like texture that is particularly filling and warming in the cold months.

Try a roux or beurre manie

Making a roux is one of the most fundamental kitchen skills at the base of classical french cooking. You’ll need about ¼ cup of roux to thicken one quart of soup. To make this at home, simply cook 2 oz. of unsalted butter in a pan until it is melted and bubbling and then add in ¼ cup flour. Cook over medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is beginning to bubble and it has taken a pale golden color. Cool completely, and then whisk into your warm soup.

A beurre manie is another classic french technique. This method is luxurious way to thicken a soup or sauce. Just mix one tablespoon softened butter with one tablespoon all-purpose flour. Stir the paste into a warm soup to add a luxurious mouthfeel. As the butter melts it disperses the flour into the soup and thickens it.

Try one of these methods next time you end up with a pot of soup that needs a little something extra. You’ll be shocked at the transformation.

How to Read a Nutrition Label

Nutrition labels and ingredient lists are amazing sources of information, especially when combined. They can help inform your decisions when purchasing food. However, there are some limitations. Sourcing, processing, and preparation methods have a huge impact on the quality and biological availability of nutrients in the product, as well as how those nutrients are digested, absorbed, and utilized in the body. 

Nutrition labels provide macronutrient information (ex: carbs, protein, fat), but this can be misleading. Macronutrients vary in composition, and that’s what really matters on the biological level. 

Consider this scenario: a burger from your favorite fast food place and a burger you make at home have similar nutrition label breakdowns and ingredient lists. Which one do you think is healthier? Probably the one you made at home from fresh ingredients.

If you’re trying to make healthier decisions with food, start with the nutrition facts and ingredients, but also work on creating meals with fewer processed ingredients and more fresh vegetables, fruits, proteins, and whole grains. If you want a little guidance, just look at the upcoming Blue Apron menu and select meals with the “wellness” badge. 

If you’re having trouble reading the nutrition facts, here’s some information to help you decode it.

Decoding the Nutrition Facts Label

Servings & Serving Size

One of the most important pieces of information on the nutrition facts panel is the Serving Size declaration. The serving size is usually provided in grams, a common household measure such as a cup, a fraction of a package, or number of pieces. The nutrition information described on the package is all based on the amount in this serving size. 

It is important to understand that serving size is not a dietary recommendation, and does not tell you how much you should eat. Serving sizes are meant to represent how much is usually consumed by an individual in one sitting.

Total Sugars vs. Added Sugars

Nutrition labels now provide Total Sugars and Added Sugars. What’s the difference? Total sugars include naturally occurring sugars from ingredients such as dairy, fruits, and vegetables as well as added sugars. Added sugars are refined sugars that like white sugar, honey, maple syrup, or others, that have been added as an additional ingredient. 

Total Carbohydrates, Dietary Fiber, & Net Carb Calculation

Total Carbohydrates represent the total amount of carbs in a serving of the product. This includes, but is not limited to, dietary fiber and total sugars. Dietary fibers are carbohydrates that can aid in digestion, promote feelings of fullness, regulate glucose absorption (and therefore blood sugar levels), and lower cholesterol levels. Most of these positive qualities are attributed to soluble fibers, which slow down digestion, rather than insoluble fibers, which speed up digestion, however both are important for maintaining a healthy system.  Although they’re carbohydrates, they can’t be processed as such by the human body.

You may also see a unit called Net Carbs. Since dietary fibers can’t be digested, net carbs are calculated by subtracting the  dietary fiber from the total carbohydrates. This number can give us a better idea of how many carbohydrates we’re actually consuming.

Ex: Total Carbs = 20g, Dietary Fiber = 2g. Net Carbs = 20g (Total Carbs) – 2g (Dietary Fiber) = 18g

So if we don’t digest fiber, is it calorie-less? Not quite. Even though we’re unable to digest fiber, the bacteria in our gut are able to do so, and if they do, then that will provide some calories.

Ingredient Lists

Ingredient lists add great context to the nutrients listed in the nutrition facts panel. They can also help you figure out if an ingredient that you are allergic or sensitive to is in the product. Ingredient lists are written in order of predominance, with the greatest amount listed first. You can use an ingredient list to help you decide if something is healthy or not, and inform your purchasing decisions.

Tips for Roasting Eggplant

Eggplant is a powerful fruit. When properly roasted, eggplants can be as rich and savory as any meat. Roasting eggplant isn’t difficult, but there are a few tricks that we love to employ to make sure they come out of the oven evenly cooked and golden brown. Follow our advice and harness the power of the eggplant to create delicious dinners in your home.

How to prepare an eggplant before roasting

The first step is choosing a dish for your finished eggplant. If you’re working with a recipe, it will offer guidelines on how you should cut your eggplant. If you’re not working with a recipe, try choosing from one of the methods below:

1-inch cubes 

Small cubes of eggplant are well-suited to salads because they are easy to stab with a fork, and they are perfectly bite-sized. This method of preparation maximizes surface area and browning, for a crispy final product. 

To cut an eggplant into cubes, first rinse the eggplant. Then use a chef’s knife to cut off the very top of the eggplant, removing the stem. Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise to form two long pieces. Working one half at a time, place the eggplant cut-side-down on a board and slice lengthwise into strips. Keeping the strips together, rotate the eggplant and cut across the strips at a 90° angle. Repeat this process with the other half. 

½-inch rounds 

Roasted eggplant rounds are easy to slice and eat. This shape has a good balance between crispy surface area and creamy roasted interior. Eggplant rounds are a great way to top off a grain bowl. 

To slice an eggplant into rounds, start by rinsing the eggplant and removing the stem with a chef’s knife. Then, simply lay the eggplant on its side and slice across the eggplant, doing your best to keep each round even. 

Halves 

Eggplant halves have a crispy exterior and a creamy exterior. With a golden-brown top, these large pieces make for a beautiful presentation. 

To cut an eggplant into halves simply rinse, remove the stem, and slice lengthwise with a chef’s knife. To help these large pieces cook evenly, we recommend scoring the surface before roasting, as demonstrated below. 

When to salt an eggplant before cooking 

Salting and rinsing eggplants prior to cooking isn’t always necessary, even though you might see it in recipes. The eggplants of yesteryear had a strong bitter flavor. Cooks would mellow out this astringency by salting and rinsing eggplant slices prior to cooking. Today’s eggplants have been selectively bred to remove this bitterness, so salting to remove unwanted flavors before roasting is unnecessary.

Sometimes salting can serve another purpose: drawing out excess moisture. Eggplants are full of water, and it can make it hard to get them nice and brown when frying. All of that water turns to steam in the pan, and prevents the eggplants from getting crispy. To remove water, you need a good amount of salt. Sprinkle the sliced eggplant generously with salt, and wait for 10-15 minutes. You should see little beads of water forming on the surface of the eggplant. Brush off the excess salt, and use paper towels to pat the eggplant dry. Now you should be able to achieve a beautiful sear.  

When to score an eggplant before cooking 

If you’re working with large pieces, scoring an eggplant will help the flesh cook evenly and allow any seasonings to penetrate the flesh of the eggplant. Scoring before roasting eggplant also creates more surface area. That means you’ll get even more caramelized golden brown goodness in your finished dish.

All you need to score an eggplant is a small knife and a cutting surface. This technique will work with any type of eggplant. We’re demonstrating with a globe eggplant, which is the variety most commonly available in American grocery stores.

Start by removing the stem of the eggplant. Do this by cutting away the very top of the eggplant with your knife. Discard or compost this portion. Then, cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. You should end up with two long eggplant halves.

Working one half at a time, use the very tip of your knife to make long, shallow diagonal incisions across the entire surface of the eggplant. Then rotate the eggplant and repeat the process, so that the shallow cuts form a crosshatch pattern. Repeat this process with the other half of the eggplant. To see just how simple this process is, watch Chef Tim demonstrate in the video below.

How to roast eggplant in the oven

You’re ready to roast! Be sure to season the eggplant thoroughly with salt, pepper, and olive oil and before placing it in the oven. Eggplants are very absorbent, so we recommend brushing the olive oil on with a silicon brush (if you have one). Cooking time will vary based on the size of your eggplant pieces, but for ½-inch slices, it should take about 20-22 minutes in a 450°F oven.

Recipes with roasted eggplant

Now that you’re done roasting your eggplant, it’s time for the fun part. Choose a recipe that shows off your creation. Here are a few that we love:

Roasted Eggplant Pitas with Tomato, Cucumber & Farro Salad

Roasted Eggplant Pitas

Seared Cod & Miso-Roasted Japanese Eggplant with Cucumber-Soba Noodle Salad

Seared Cod & Miso-Roasted Japanese Eggplant

Smoky Marinated Eggplant with Herb Salsa

roasted eggplant with herb salsa

If you want to scoring an eggplant at home, we recommend this trusty petty knife.

How to Make the Perfect Homemade Garlic Bread

Perfect Homemade Garlic Bread

Got leftover garlic? One of the all-time best uses for garlic, extra or not, is garlic bread. Think of a buttery slice beside your plate of spaghetti as some old favorite red sauce joint. That stuff.

The only problem is that too often garlic bread disappoints. There’s not enough butter, or it’s greasy. The garlic is raw and overwhelming, or sparse and tasteless. The bread is too chewy, rather than contrasting soft interior with crunchy crust.

Today’s we’re here to remedy all your garlicky woes with our recipe for homemade garlic bread. If you’ve found yourself collecting extra cloves from your Blue Apron box, grab six of them right now, and let’s make some garlic bread.

Read more: How to Make Garlic Confit

Garlic Bread Recipe

You’ll want to pick up a good loaf of Italian bread, preferably from a beloved local bakery. You want it to be soft inside and crusty on the outside–nothing too dense here. Also grab a stick of softened salted butter, your pepper grinder, and those six cloves of garlic

Preparing Garlic Bread Ingredients

Now, let’s multitask. At the same time, preheat the oven to 350°F and chop your garlic cloves very finely with the salt or press them on the microplane to make a paste

In a small bowl, combine the garlic with the stick of butter and some black pepper and squish together to combine them. This might take a bit of elbow grease.

Now, let’s multitask. At the same time, preheat the oven to 350°F and chop your garlic cloves very finely with the salt or press them on the microplane to make a paste

Cut your loaf of bread in half lengthwise, then spread the butter thickly on bottom half.

Replace the top half, and wrap the whole loaf in a sheet of foil. Place the loaf on a baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes, until the butter is melted.

Unwrap, open the bread up, place each half butter side up, and bake for 5 more minutes, until golden around the edges.. While the bread is crisping up, grate about 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.

Sliced Homemade Garlic Bread

Sprinkle the cheese across the surface of both loaves, then cut each half into 2-inch wide strips. Serve hot, with plenty of napkins.

How to Navigate the Confusion Of the Low-Carb Craze

bread is not low-carb

Jessica Halper MPH, RNutr, always has health on her mind. Today, she’s here to help make sense of all the conflicting information surrounding low-carb diets.

Are all carbs created equal? It’s a hot topic, and a persistent pain point for those looking to cut back on carbs. While the craze around carbohydrates is nothing new, demand for the low-carb market has soared in recent years. Global sales of low-carb products are expected to reach $15.64 billion by 2027. Unsurprisingly, grocery and food manufacturers have jumped on this wagon, producing low-carb alternatives to everything from chocolate cookies to ice cream. In fact, keto—a low-carb, high fat diet—was the most ‘Googled’ diet in 2020.

While our understanding of carbohydrates has evolved since the days of the Atkins Diet, some still maintain that carbohydrates are a dietary villain. All carbs are inherently bad and fattening, right? Not so fast. Like most topics in nutrition, the science is more nuanced than good versus “evil.”

Like calories, it’s imperative to first define carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient composed of sugar molecules. Along with proteins and fats, carbohydrates are one of the three main nutrients found in food and drink that contribute to a balanced diet. In fact, carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source, and are required daily to power both the brain and working muscles. So, before officially excommunicating carbs from your diet, read on.

What are simple carbs?

At the chemical level, all carbohydrates contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. However, even though all carbohydrates are composed of these building blocks, their structure and behaviors vary. Simple carbohydrates (monosaccharides and disaccharides) are digested and absorbed by the body easily. Think of these as quick fuel. These simple carbs are naturally found in foods such as fruits, milk, and milk products, but they are also found in processed and refined foods such as candy, table sugar, syrup and soft drinks.

whole grains are complex carbs

What are complex carbs?

Complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides) are digested and absorbed by the body over a longer period of time, and provide a more lasting source of energy. They are found in a variety of foods including peas , beans, whole grains, and vegetables. However, because the category includes all starches, they are also present in refined foods such as white bread and pasta, suggesting that while complex carbs are a better energy option, nutritionally, the jury is still out.

Choosing the Best Carbs for Your Diet

It’s easy to get lost in this mess of organic chemistry, but hope is not lost when choosing the best carbs to support a healthy diet. People don’t eat nutrients, they eat food. Assessing the quality of your carbohydrates is key because not all carbs are created equal. Carbohydrates that are high in fiber, such as whole grains and fresh produce are an excellent source of the macronutrient. Not only are high-fiber foods metabolized more slowly—mitigating blood sugar spikes—they are also rich in vitamins and minerals.

By the same token, refined carbs—those that have been stripped of their fibrous bran and kernel—are a poorer choice. These carbs, which include white bread and white rice, are digested quickly, leading to rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin. Table sugar, or sucrose, is the most common refined carbohydrate. Unlike other simple sugars found in fruit and milk, sucrose provides no nutritional value aside from energy. This is why it’s deemed an “empty calorie.” Empty calories, which unfortunately comprise a large part of the American diet, can have a negative impact on your health, leading to weight gain and chronic disease. 

A low-carbohydrate diet is still a good choice for those looking to lose or manage their weight. However, when cutting back on the carbs, be mindful of those you eliminate. Work with a doctor or nutritionist to devise a plan that best fits your body’s needs. Eliminate refined carbs, and choose those that are high in fiber such as whole grains and legumes. Support your plan with moderate portions of lean protein (both animal and plant), healthy sources of fat and, as always, an array of fruits and vegetables, either frozen or fresh.

If you’re craving homemade meals created with balance in mind, explore Blue Apron’s new signature wellness menu here.

5 Easy Swaps that Make Family Dinner Healthier

Ingredient swaps are a creative way to tailor your family’s favorite dinners to suit your lifestyle. Whether you’re hoping to watch fat intake, cut carbs, or keep an eye on sodium, these tricks will help create a nourishing dinner that everyone will love. 

turkey lettuce cups

Wrap it in lettuce 

Cut carbs, eat vegetables, and play with your food at the same time. Swapping lettuce cups for tortillas creates a fresh and light dinner that is fun to eat like these Cool Cajun Chicken Lettuce Cups with Pickled Pepper Yogurt & Peanuts. 

Add a dollop of yogurt 

Enchiladas aren’t the same without a tangy topping. Cut fat without sacrificing satisfaction by swapping Greek yogurt in for sour cream. Yogurt can also be stirred into rice dishes and plopped on top of curries for a creamy dinner that you can feel good about. 

Try an alternative pasta 

If carbs are a concern, try an alternative pasta. Banza pasta is a low-carb, gluten-free pasta that will pair perfectly with your favorite sauces. 

Add a squeeze of lemon instead of an extra pinch of salt 

Watching sodium? Finishing your dish with a squeeze of lemon instead of a dash of salt will brighten up the flavors. 

Try a lighter protein 

Substituting ground turkey or boneless skinless chicken breast in for a heavier protein like beef will cut down on saturated fat. In a flavorful meal like chili, or these Tempo Turkey Sloppy Joes, we bet you won’t miss the beef at all. 

Click here to try recipes like these created to celebrate Disney and Pixar’s “Soul,” now streaming on Disney+.