A Guide to Persimmons

fuyu persimmon

As the holiday season approaches, persimmons are reaching their peak sweetness. If you haven’t cooked with persimmons before, this will help you get started. Keep reading for persimmon recipes and tips on choosing a ripe persimmon.  

What is a persimmon?

Feature Video
A fuyu persimmon

There are over 2,000 varieties of persimmons, but there are two types that are widely available in American grocery stores: the fuyu and the hachiya. Both of these varieties originated in Japan, and are in season between October and January. This late season makes persimmons the perfect fruit to add a little freshness and sweetness to winter dinner. 

Persimmons have a delicate honey-like flavor and silky texture. They can be eaten fresh, dried, or cooked, and are very versatile in recipes. Persimmon peels are completely edible. Whether or not to peel the fruit is a matter of personal preference and the recipe that you’re using. 

How can you tell if a persimmon is ripe?

Persimmons fall into two broad categories: astringent and non-astringent. Astringent persimmons, like the pointy-bottomed hachiya, should be softer than you think. Don’t look for the gentle give of a peach, a ripe hachiya persimmon should be closer to the texture of jelly. If an astringent persimmon is eaten before it’s totally ripe, it will have an unpleasant dry texture. 

Non-astringent persimmons, like the flat-bottomed fuyu, can be eaten when they’re still slightly firm. 

How to cut persimmons

how to cut persimmons

Cutting this fruit is simple. Use a knife to cut around the base of the stem and remove it completely. Cut the persimmon in half pole to pole. Use a knife to remove the white core of the fruit and discard it. Once the core has been removed you can either slice or dice the persimmon according to your recipe. The entire peel is edible.

What to make with persimmons? 

Persimmons can be the start of sweet or savory dishes. A sliced persimmon will add a subtle sweetness to rice dishes, salads, or even sandwiches.  These are some of our favorite recipes using persimmons.

Spicy Chicken & Vegetable Stir-Fry with Persimmon Rice

Spicy Chicken & Vegetable Stir-Fry with Persimmon Rice

Fontina & Sourdough Grilled Cheese with Persimmon & Onion

Persimmons in grilled cheese

Harissa-Baked Chicken with Farro, Persimmon, & Goat Cheese Salad

Baked Chicken with Persimmons

Love cooking with fruit? Find more sweet and savory dinner ideas here.

Different Types of Potatoes: Your Guide to the Potato Rainbow

sweet, white, and purple potatoes
Sweet, white, and purple potatoes

When it comes to picking our carbs, we can never say no to a potato. Whether we’re feasting on tater tots at a diner, mashing up Russets at home, or adding potatoes to our sautés and salads, we’re truly potato people at heart. With so many types of potatoes to love, it’s impossible to get tired of eating them.

The potato doesn’t start at the French fry and end at the loaded baked potato. Check out a local farm stand and you’ll find dozens of types of potatoes in every color. Every time we visit a potato vendor, we’re struck again by the immense variety. The colors, shapes, sizes, and textures range from waxy little fingerlings to sweet orange yams that make us yearn for Thanksgiving.

List of Types of Potato Varieties

Multicolored Baby Potatoes

Multicolored Baby Potatoes

These tri-colored, tiny potatoes are both delicious and adorable. They have thin skins and a waxy interior. They’re well-suited for roasting or boiling, but their waxy flesh isn’t ideal for mashing. The thin skin doesn’t need to be peeled if you’re roasting or boiling, which makes preparation easy. We love using these tiny potatoes to make incredible salads. Simply boil them, toss with a tarragon and cornichon dressing, and eat warm with a dinner like our Chicken Paillard and Tomato Salad.

Purple Potatoes

Purple Potatoes

Purple potatoes are a type of fingerling potato native to South America. Their flesh is fluffy, starchy, and moist, with a medium-thin skin. They’re rich in antioxidants, and have an earthy and slightly nutty flavor. We love them roasted or smashed. They’re the perfect side dish to serve them up with similarly earthy Brussels sprouts and crispy chicken legs in this fantastic fall chicken dish.

Yukon Gold Potatoes

Yukon Gold Potatoes

Yukon Golds are known for their thin skin and golden interior. These popular potatoes can range in size from pretty teeny, to nearly baked-potato size. If you’re looking for bite-sized pieces, you can always cut down a large one. Yukon Gold potatoes work in a wide variety of recipes. They’re excellent roasted, smashed, or tossed with a creamy dressing in dishes like Trout with Creamy Potato Salad and Wilted Spinach.

Heirloom Fingerling Potatoes

Heirloom Fingerling Potatoes

Some of our favorite heirloom fingerling potatoes have whimisical names like “Russian banana potatoes,” or “red thumbs,” but that’s not the only reason we like them. Because of the thin skin, you can peel heirloom fingerlings easily after boiling. That’s how we prepare them for our Potato-Pepper Hash.

types of fingerling potatoes

Baby Red Potatoes

baby red potato

These little red cuties are white as snow in the inside with a beautiful bright red skin that doesn’t need to be peeled off in most preparations. Like Yukon Golds, these are really versatile. We especially love them crisped up, as in our Flat Iron Steaks with Artichoke and Potato Hash.

Russet Potato

russet potato

Russet potatoes, the hero of the potato family, are widely known. If you close your eyes and picture a potato, we bet you’re seeing a Russet. They’re popular for a reason. Nothing replaces their fluffy, starchy interiors when you’re making mashed potatoes or potato wedges to go with one of our homemade burgers. For creamy mashed potatoes, we recommend peeling your russets, but if you crisp it in the oven, the skin can be delicious.

Types of Sweet Potatoes

Garnet sweet potatoes

There are actually several varieties of the classic sweet potato—sometimes conversationally referred to as yams. Garnet sweet potatoes are one of our favorite types of potatoes. Garnets are hearty and full of vitamins, and contain a good bit of protein. When roasted, they cook up sweet and fluffy. We like to peel and chop them, then sauté with other ingredients like onions and orzo in Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potato Orzo Risotto.

Japanese Sweet Potato

japanese sweet potato

Japanese sweet potatoes have a dark reddish purple skin and bright white flesh. They’re sweeter and starchier than orange sweet potatoes, and just as delicious when roasted, steamed, or baked. We love slicing them into wedges or rounds and roasting in s very hot oven with just a little salt and olive oil. The edges with caramelize, creating the perfect sweet and savory snack or side dish.

Jewel Sweet Potato

sweet potato

Jewel sweet potatoes are widely available in supermarkets. They have orange/brown skin and bright orange flesh. They’re well-suited for both boiling and baking, and they’re the variety we reach for when we’re roasting up sweet potato fries.

Purple Sweet Potato

Purple sweet potato (right)

This purple sweet potato, also known as Okinawan sweet potato, isn’t even a member of the potato family—it’s part of the same family as morning glory, or water spinach. The plant is native to the Americas and landed in Japan sometime in the 1500s. It grew so well there that it became popular in many Japanese dishes and now can be found throughout Asia and the Pacific. We pair it with Five-Spice Pork Chops in this popular recent dinner.

Find all of these potato recipes, and more!, in the Blue Apron cookbook.

List of Spicy Foods That Aren’t for the Faint of Heart

Spicy foods

Would you like your puttanesca with a dose of red pepper flakes, your udon noodles with chili garlic sauce, your fish sandwich with tons of Tabasco? No thanks, you say? Hold the spice? Many cuisines boast a high degree of spice in their dishes—and while many eaters love hot food, whether or not they grew up with it—some people simply can’t tolerate spicy ingredients.

Though scientists don’t fully understand the biological background for liking, not liking, or merely tolerating spice, they do pinpoint our spice sensitivity to the trigeminal system, according to Popular Science. That means we register spice as a sensation—like pain!—not as a taste. In this case of spicy peppers like jalapeños, the pain comes from capsaicin.

If your goal is to have your meals taste delicious and be painless, bookmark this list and leave these spicy ingredients out of your recipes. (If you love spicy food, it’s a different challenge: try as many as you can!)

spicy sauces

Pepper sauces

Vinegar-based hot sauces and chili pastes are some the the most popular spicy ingredients in Blue Apron dinners.

Harissa

A North African hot sauce made with garlic and oil–and hot red peppers, of course.

Red chili paste

From Southeast Asia, this paste comes already equipped with Thai flavors, like lemongrass.

Sriracha

There’s a seaside town in Thailand called Si Racha–and that’s where this beloved sauce with the rooster on the bottle originally hails from.

Tabasco

All-American Tabasco is made on Avery Island, Louisiana, delivers a slightly vinegary punch along with its heat. We love tiny Tabasco bottles!

Spicy Brassicaceae

Spicy Brassicaceae

Mustard, horseradish,  and wasabi are all part of the brassicaceae family. In small quantities, even spice-haters can tolerate ginger and mustard, but ramp up the amounts and you’ll be running for a cold beer.

Wasabi
Real wasabi is related to horseradish and cabbage and delivers a short-lived heat similar to horseradish. Most of the wasabi you see in your Japanese take-out,  however, isn’t actually wasabi; rather, it’s a mixture of horseradish, mustard, and food coloring.

Horseradish
Pungent horseradish is usually served grated and mixed with vinegar, as a condiment for roasts or fish. The root has a peppery punch, though the spicy feeling doesn’t last all that long in your mouth.

Whole Grain Mustard
Mustard is enjoyed worldwide, in all kinds of preparations, and with all kinds of pairings. The spiciness doesn’t always come out, however, but the warm heat comes through in large quantities, in whole grain mustard, and in mustards labeled clearly as hot.

Ginger 
Ginger root can contribute a mild heat to stir-fries and teas, but using a lot of minced fresh or dried ginger will make spice-haters pucker in pain.

Mustard Powder
Like whole grain mustard, mustard powder has the warm heat of the other brassica plants–horseradish and wasabi–and is a great way to balance out rich dishes, like macaroni & cheese.

Peppercorns & chilies

In addition to heat, peppercorns and chilis can have beautiful floral and herb flavors.

Dried Thai Chilies

Thai cuisine makes fantastic use of bird’s eye chilies in noodles, soups, and stir-fries, and though fresh chilies can really enliven the dish, these whole dried peppers are easier to keep around.

Jalapeño

You probably already know the jalapeño from its frequent appearances, well, everywhere. You can actually control the heat of the medium-sized green pepper by preparing it in slightly different ways.

Peppercorns

So many recipes call for freshly ground pepper that we forget peppercorns can be more than an everyday spice. In fact, those black peppercorns, once thought of exotic because they came all the way from India, have a complex and delicious heat. So, once in a while, try using more than a sprinkle to flavor your food.

Red Chili Flakes

A pantry staple, the flakes are made of dried, pulverized red chilies–a pinch is all you need to spice up pizza, pasta, or any dish that needs a kick.

Szechuan Peppercorns

Despite their name and appearance, Szechuan peppercorns aren’t related to black, white, green or even chili peppers. But rather than spice, the peppercorns deliver a quintessential tingly menthol feeling.

Gochujang

A sweet-spicy soybean-based chili paste often used to garnish the Korean rice dish bibimbap.

Aleppo Pepper

These flakes deliver a bright, light spice, complex and slightly reminiscent of cumin.

All About Sprouts & Microgreens

sprouts and microgreens

Have you ever sprouted your own beans? You can, in fact, grow bean sprouts with only some seeds, some water, and a small container. You don’t have to be a hippie, a health food fanatic, or a Californian to pull it off.

But, let’s be honest, in some ways we are all Californians now. Maybe we’re more hipster than hippie, but we’ve all embraced healthy, organic food. And, the next frontier, after the bulk aisle and the homemade kale chips, is sprouting.

Benefits of Sprouts

Sprouts have become popular for a reason. In our health food-obsessed culture, sprouts have a whole lot to offer. Seeds, beans, and many grains can all be sprouted, and, once they are, the sprouted seeds have up to 30 percent more protein than their un-sprouted counterparts. The vitamins in a sprout depend on the seed it is sprouted from, but almost all sprouts are potent sources of Vitamin C, Vitamin B, and iron. Sprouts are also full of phytonutrients (or phytochemicals), the many different organic compounds that help plants function and may also help our bodies function better. These include lycopene, beta-carotene, and chlorophyll along with many, many others. Increasing numbers of studies show phytonutrients serving as powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories and providing many other health benefits as well.

a microgreen

Although sprouts have recently enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in the U.S., they have played a vital role in the diets of many Asian cultures for years. In the U.S., interest in sprouts began during World War II, when Cornell nutrition professor Clive McCay published an article highlighting the nutritional benefits of soy bean sprouts. It began:

Wanted! A vegetable that will grow in any climate, will rival meat in nutritive value, will mature in 3 to 5 days, may be planted any day of the year, will require neither soil nor sunshine, will rival tomatoes in Vitamin C, will be free of waste in preparation.

Convincing, right? If you’re looking to take advantage of these near-miraculous nutritional powerhouses, here’s what you need to know.

Types of Sprouts

Let’s start with how to buy sprouts—just in case you aren’t receiving them handily pre-selected in your Blue Apron boxes. Sprouts may seem like a seasonal food, but, as McCay’s wanted ad points out, they are not. Almost all sprouts are grown in greenhouses, making them a very practical and powerful source of all the good things fresh vegetables bring you—vitamins, fiber, and phytonutrients—year round.

When you shop for sprouts, you’ll quickly notice that there are many kinds. Americans are most familiar with alfalfa sprouts and mung bean sprouts. Alfalfa sprouts are the tangle of green yarns that you often find on sandwiches; mung bean sprouts are the crunchy white stems that you often find cooked in Asian food. These days though you can also regularly find chickpea sprouts, lentil sprouts, and broccoli sprouts in stores. Research suggests that different sprout varieties offer different health benefits—broccoli and radish sprouts appear to be particularly high in antioxidants, for example. Different sprouts also have very different textures and tastes. If a pile of alfalfa sprouts has just never been your thing, crunchy chickpea sprouts may hold much more appeal. In other words, don’t write them all off.

Whether you are growing sprouts in a jar in your kitchen or a sprout farmer is growing a crop for commercial use, the process begins the same way. First, seeds are soaked for about eight hours. After they soak, the seeds get stored in a humid, ventilated container in a relatively warm spot for about three days until they have sprouted. To prevent excessive heat build up or the growth of fungus, the seeds then have to be rinsed a few times every day.

I spoke with Barbara Sanderson from the International Sprout Growers Association who explained that this process, while fairly easy when it’s taking place in a jar in your kitchen, is quite labor intensive for commercial farmers. Sprouts can also be an expensive crop, because they require more seeds to grow. A broccoli farmer might get a number of heads of broccoli from one seed, but a sprout farmer sells each seed once it has sprouted.

Sprouts have also posed some difficulties for farmers because their growing conditions can foster harmful bacteria. The warm and humid conditions in which sprouts grow can also foster the growth of e. coli and salmonella. Of course, all raw vegetables carry some of this risk. As with all vegetables, if you are worried about bacteria you might choose to cook your sprouts. If you are eating them raw, you should definitely make sure to buy the freshest possible sprouts and, as I’m sure goes without saying, avoid sprouts that seem to have become a bit slimy or smelly.

What about Microgreens?

Microgreens pack a lot of the same nutritional punch as sprouts, but have grown for a little longer, and are harvested without the seeds. In other words, sprouts germinate in water just long enough to develop a stem and roots. When they get to your plate, you eat the seed, the sprout, and the root. Microgreens, on the other hand, are actually planted in soil where they grow for seven to 14 days before their green shoots are harvested. Research suggests microgreens, like sprouts, contain far more vitamins and phytochemicals than fully matured vegetables.

How to Use Sprouts & Microgreens

Both sprouts and microgreens are easy additions to salads and sandwiches. Experimenting with cooking them is a great idea too. However, you use them they are a quick way to add crunch, color, fiber, vitamins, and those elusive phytochemicals to a meal.

7 Types of Pear Varieties

Get to know the humble pear. From smooth-skinned Bartlett to leathery looking (but very delicious) Bosc pears, we’re here to help you pick the best pears for eating, baking, and salads.

When are pears in season? 

In general, pears are in season from August through October, although there may be some variations depending on where the variety you have in mind is grown. In the U.S., over 90% of the pears available in supermarkets are grown domestically. 

Types of Pears

Asian pear
Asian pear

Asian pear

Asian pear trees are native to East Asia, but today they’re grown across the world, including in the U.S.. Asian pears are large and juicy. They have a higher water content than most European pear varieties. This water content gives the fruit a delicious texture when eaten raw, but makes them less suitable for baking and jam making. 

bosc pear
Bosc pear

Bosc pear

The Bosc pear, sometimes known as the Kaiser pear, is native to France and Belgium. It is named after Louis Bosc, a French horticulturist. Bosc pears are a deep brown color and have a slightly rough peel. Their flesh is firm and juicy. This texture makes the Bosc pear well-suited for baking or poaching. 

bartlett pear
Bartlett pear

Bartlett pear

The Bartlett pear, sometimes called the Williams pear, ripens from green to yellow. To tell if these pears are completely ripe, press lightly on the pear near the stem. If the fruit gives slightly under pressure, it’s ready to eat. Bartlett pears have a buttery texture, and are the pears most often used in canning in the U.S..

Red Anjou Pear

Anjou

Anjou pears are well-suited for baking, poaching, or roasting. When eaten raw, they have a subtle sweetness and light lemony flavor. Anjou pears can be red or green. They have a short neck and a bell-shaped body.  

Comice 

Comice pears were originally cultivated in France. They’re known as the sweetest pear variety, and are often the variety shipped in gift boxes. Because of this, they’re sometimes given the nickname “the Christmas pear.” Comice pears have light green skin with a blush of pinkish red. 

Taylors gold

Taylor’s Gold pears were first discovered in New Zealand. Their name is a nod to their golden brown skin. Taylor’s Gold pears may be a mutation of the Comice pear. Taylor’s Gold pears are good for cooking, baking, or eating raw.

Seckel pear

Seckel Pears

Seckel pears trace their origins to Pennsylvania. These pears are small with a short neck and round body. Their flesh is sweet and crunchy. The fruit has a larger grain than most European varieties. It is harvested in the fall, but stores well, and can be eaten throughout the winter.

After you stock up on your favorite pears, try our recipe for spiced pear butter. 

How to Cook with Capers

If capers aren’t already your secret weapon in the kitchen, they should be. If you know how to cook with capers, these tiny green buds will add a bright pop of briny flavor to whatever you’re making. Think of them like a shortcut to flavor. These are some of the recipes that made us fall in love with capers. 

What are capers?

Capers are small, unopened flower buds. They’re harvested from the caper bush, or Flinder’s rose, a flowering plant native to the Mediterranean. After harvesting, the bud is pickled and kept in either salt or a salt-vinegar mixture. During this process, the capers release mustard oil, giving them a distinct, savory flavor.

What do capers taste like? 

Capers have a lot of the same brine and saltiness that you’d expect from an olive, but with brighter lemony and floral flavors. They are, after all, a flower bud.

How do you use capers?

Capers can be eaten raw, but they’re most often incorporated into sauces or used as a flavorful topping for proteins. 

Recipes with capers

This simple chicken dish gets a boost from a zesty a topping made with briny capers and garlic.

Piccata is a traditional Italian dish prepared with capers. This seared chicken dish is inspired by the classic and topped with a piccata-style sauce made from garlic, lemon juice, capers, and butter.

Capers are the perfect complement to bright, acidic tomatoes in this flavorful appetizer.

In this vibrant pasta dish, we’re bringing together seared chicken and sweet peppers with a rich, creamy sauce, which gets deliciously varied flavors and textures from Calabrian chile paste, roasted red peppers, and briny capers.

Capers cooked in brown butter add a pop of flavor to this satisfying vegetarian dish made with roasted cauliflower, kale, and breadcrumbs.

All About Shishito Peppers and 3 Delicious Recipes

Charred peppers just need a sprinkle of salt

Shishito peppers are small green peppers of Japanese origin. These peppers ripen from green to red, but they’re typically harvested while still green. 

These peppers have a very thin skin. Their delicate nature means that they will cook quickly compared to heartier varieties like bell peppers. They are often served lightly charred or blistered. This can be done in a pan or on the grill. Either way, it will take less than 10 minutes. After they’re charred, they can be served as a snack with just a sprinkle of crunchy salt, or incorporated into a dish. 

How to cook shishito peppers 

Char the peppers:
Charring peppers in a pan

Charring or blistering these small peppers is simple. All you need is a pan and a heat proof spoon or spatula. 

In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the peppers in an even layer. Cook, without stirring, 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned; season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes, or until charred and softened. Season to your liking and serve immediately. 

Are shishito peppers spicy?

Most shishito peppers are not spicy. They’re so mild that they can be eaten whole without causing any sweaty discomfort. However, for some reason, one in every 10-20 peppers has a bit of a kick. This surprising spice may be due to excessive sun exposure during growth. There’s no reason to worry, even the spiciest shishito peppers aren’t as hot as a jalapeño, and eating them is completely safe. The occasional hot pepper just makes eating these as a snack a little more exciting. 

Can you eat shishito peppers raw?

Shishito peppers can be eaten raw, although it’s more common to serve them charred or blistered. If eaten raw, they will have a slightly sweeter, fruiter taste. 

Recipes with shishito peppers 

Pair shishito peppers with crunchy green beans for a healthy green side dish. 

Top charred peppers with fragrant lime salt for extra fruity flavor. 

Roasted peppers add flavor and texture to this Mexican-inspired grain bowl. 

How to Use Sambal Oelek

Sambal Oelek
~spicy~

What is sambal oelek 

Sambal oelek is an Indonesian condiment made from chili peppers, vinegar, and salt. It’s name comes from the Indonesian word for pepper⁠—sambal⁠—and the name for a mortar and pestle in which peppers are sometimes ground. 

Sambal oelek, sometimes just called sambal, is thicker and chunkier than most American hot sauces. It usually contains bits of pepper and whole pepper seeds. The flavor is bright and tart from the vinegar, with a good amount of spice. A little goes a long way! 

How to use sambal oelek

Sambal is an all-purpose condiment. It can be used as part of a marinade, added during the cooking process, or spooned on as a finishing touch. 

The spice level will vary depending on when in the cooking process it’s added. The earlier it’s introduced, the more mellow the spice will be, and the more sambal you can use. If you’re incorporating it into a marinade, you’ll be safe with a few heaping tablespoons. If you’re using it as a topping, start with a scant teaspoon. 

Sambal can be used in beef, fish, chicken, and vegetable dishes. At Blue Apron, we especially love it in stir-frys. 

Recipes with sambal oelek 

Sambal oelek is used to flavor the turkey and the dipping sauce in these Sesame-Sambal Turkey Lettuce Cups.

This spicy chicken & rice recipe uses sambal to create a sweet and spicy glaze for tender chicken and vegetables. 

Try a wholesome take on fried rice that substitutes protein-rich quinoa for rice. Adding sambal oelek to the pan with the chicken adds depth and spice to this healthy dinner. 

Top seared chicken with a sauce made from sambal and coconut milk. The creamy coconut milk will help tone down the heat of the spicy sauce. 

These chicken tacos are inspired by Asian-flavors. They’re full of crunchy slaw, and topped off with a spicy crema spiked with sambal oelek. 

Here, spicy sambal and creamy mayo come together to give rich, Asian-style flavor to the plant-based Beyond Burger.

Find more recipes featuring sambal in our cookbook.

How to Cook with Non-Dairy Cheese

Daiya non-dairy cheeze and broccoli

What is non-dairy cheese? 

Non-dairy cheese is a vegan and lactose-free alternative to traditional cheeses. Non-dairy cheese can be made with soy milk, nuts, nutritional yeast, or a combination of other ingredients. Lactose-free cooks can now customize some Blue Apron dinners with Daiya non-dairy cheeze. 

Can I call it cheese? 

Technically, no. The FDA enforces standards for the definition of cheese. These standards are complicated, and regulate everything from fat content, to milk type, to moisture content for 72 different types of cheese and cheese products.  That’s why you may see some non-dairy cheese using phrases like “cheeze” or “mozzarella-style.”

how to cook with non-dairy cheese

How can I cook with dairy-free cheese?

Non-dairy cheeze is a great tool for reducing dairy consumption, lactose-free lifestyles, or for vegan cooking. Try swapping Daiya, or another diary-free cheese into a new recipe. 

For better melting, try grating non-dairy cheese instead of slicing 

The Daiya cheeze sticks grate very easily. Using a box grater or microplane, grate the sticks at a downward angle starting from one end, keeping your fingers tucked away as you grate to the other end of the stick! 

Know what to expect 

Daiya non-dairy cheeze melts well onto vegetables and protein, but it may not stick as well to proteins as a traditional dairy cheese would.

Cover a pan with aluminum foil to help non-dairy cheese melt

Put a lid on it

For best results, use steam from the cooking process to help melt your non-dairy cheeze. While your food is cooking, just cover the pan with a lid or a sheet of aluminum foil. This traps heat and ensures things get nice and melty. 

Choose your recipe wisely 

We love using Daiya cheeze sticks as a replacement for medium-hard cheeses like cheddar or mozzarella, as opposed to soft cheeses like brie and chevre. We prefer melting or baking Daiya over serving it raw. This non-dairy cheeze is great on burgers, sandwiches, skillets, quesadillas and more! 🙂 

Look for Daiya cheeze, available as a customization, on the Blue Apron menu

Cool, Creamy, Craveable Tzatziki

tzatziki recipe with toasted pita chips
Creamy tzatziki with toasted pita chips

Tzatziki is a creamy yogurt-based sauce with origins dating back to the Ottoman empire. In the U.S.,tzatziki is often associated with Greek food, but in reality it’s common in much of Southern Europe, as well in the Middle East. 

What is tzatziki 

Tzatziki has been around for 1000s of years, and there have been quite a few variations on the recipe over time. Some recipes call for mint and cucumbers, while others favor dill. It can be a thick and chunky dip, or a thin sauce. There are some constants: tzatziki is always a yogurt-based sauce with fresh herbs. 

What to eat with tzatziki

Tzatziki is an excellent complement to falafel or grilled meats. It can also be served as a dip alongside toasted pita and assorted vegetables, or slathered on a meaty sandwich. When served with hot food, this cool sauce provides a pleasant temperature contrast. 

tzatziki recipe with salad
Top grilled chicken with tzatziki for a satisfying salad

Cucumber tzatziki recipe 

  • 1 C yogurt 
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ C cucumber, small-diced
  • 2 tsps lemon juice

1. Prep the garlic. If you have a microplane, grate the garlic into a fine paste. If you don’t have a microplane, use a chef’s knife to finely mince the garlic. You can also substitute a pinch of garlic powder, if necessary. 

2. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and season to taste. Tzatziki can be served right away, but the flavor will improve over time. If possible, chill for 2 hours before serving. Tzatziki will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to a week.

Lemon dill tzatziki recipe 

  • 1 C yogurt 
  • 1 bunch dill, picked and finely chopped
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 garlic clove 

1. Prep the garlic. If you have a microplane, grate the garlic into a fine paste. If you don’t have a microplane, use a chef’s knife to finely mince the garlic. You can also substitute a pinch of garlic powder, if necessary. 

2. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and season to taste. Tzatziki can be served right away, but the flavor will improve over time. If possible, chill for 2 hours before serving. Tzatziki will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to a week.

Pink Lemons from the Eureka Lemon Tree

If you’ve cooked with us, you know we love our lemon zest. There’s nothing wrong with the Lisbon lemons you probably buy at your local super market, but sometimes it’s fun to branch out. That’s when we turn to pink lemons.

Pink Lemons on Eureka Lemon Tree at Limoneira Orchard in California

Variegated pink lemons, like the ones cultivated at Limoneira orchard, are a delightfully eccentric fruit. This citrus is known for its floral tangy flavor and its striking striped skin.

Types of Lemons

The pink lemon was discovered around 1930 among the branches of an ordinary Eureka lemon tree in Burbank, California. The pink lemon is also known as the variegated pink lemon because of its unpredictable appearance.

Pink Lemons vs. Meyer Lemons

Pink lemons are wild variety that evolved naturally. Meyer lemons, on the other hand, were created by crossbreeding lemons and mandarin oranges.

Pink Lemons

Do pink lemons make pink lemonade?

The distinctive pigment of the pink lemon’s flesh comes from a higher concentration of lycopene, the same compound that gives pink grapefruit and tomatoes their color.

Pink lemonade isn’t made from pink lemons. According to folklore, the original pink lemonade created in the mid-1800s got its color from a dubious source: a vat of water used to wash pink stockings. Today, the color in pink lemonade usually comes from red berries, or more commonly, from food dye added to regular lemonade.

That’s not to say it couldn’t be done! The flavor of a variegated lemon is perfect for lemonade, as they’re naturally sweeter than Eureka or Lisbon lemons. Just don’t expect a bright hot pink, natural pink lemonade will have a more subtle hue.

Pink lemons facts

We believe variety is the spice of life. We love introducing you to new ingredients and the best ways to use them. Trying new food isn’t just fun, it also encourages biodiversity—the variety of life on our planet—on farms. Over the course of the last century, crop diversity has declined as national food retail chains have consolidated and demanded less variety from agricultural production. Agricultural biodiversity, which encompasses the genetic variety in crops, helps farmers successfully grow food and maintain sustainable farm landscapes.

Limoneira Orchard & Blue Apron

Today most consumers are so used to a narrow range of choices, they’re less likely to pick out an unusual piece of fruit at the grocery store, even if it was available. We plan to change that. By filling your box with fruits and veggies that aren’t yet grown on a commercial scale, like fairytale eggplants, patty pan squash, salt and pepper cucumbers and pink lemons, we’re helping create demand for an array of delicious yet under-the-radar produce that might otherwise be overlooked. Plus, who are we kidding? Life is way more fun when we’re a little adventurous.

pink lemons quote biodiversity

A Guide to Kale

chopped kale

It’s hard to deny that we’ve become kale obsessed. There are millions of ways to cook kale. You’ll find it in chips, smoothies, and pesto; there’s nothing that this leafy green can’t do. Today, it might seems like we’ve always been a country that runs on kale, but that’s not the case. Kale skyrocketed in popularity just a few years ago. USA today reported that kale increased on restaurant menus by 400% between 2008 and 2013. Before 2013, the largest purchaser of kale was pizza hut, and they weren’t buying it for salads. Kale was the leafy green decoration that they used to fill out their buffet stations. How did kale move from garnish to salad staple?

The history of kale

Kale has a long history as a reliable crop. According to the Agriculture Department at Texas A&M, the Ancient Greeks and Romans grew it. Some theories say it dates back to 600 BC, when the Celts brought it to Europe. Since it is resistant to frost, it comes as no surprise that kale has done well in colder regions, and it played a role in early European history before making its way to North America in the 17th century.

Kale might be a relatively new addition to American restaurant menus, but that isn’t the case everywhere. In Germany, there’s an annual Grühnkohlfahrt, basically a celebration dedicated to eating a lot of cooked kale. In the Netherlands, where traditional dish stamppot boerenkool,mashed potatoes and kale, graces winter tables. The green was such a staple of Scottish fare that in the local dialect ‘kail’ means ‘food’ in general, and the expression “to be off one’s kale” implies that you are ill.

Ways to cook kale

We love adding kale to our dinners.

Seared kale can be an the perfect side dish to complete a meal, like in this recipe for Seared Steaks & Garlic Kale with Cheesy Roasted Potatoes.

Seared Steaks & Garlic Kale with Cheesy Roasted Potatoes

Kale is a satisfying way to add a vegetable to pasta dishes, like in this recipe for Creamy Pasta & Kale with Fried Rosemary & Walnuts.

Creamy Pasta & Kale with Fried Rosemary & Walnuts

Kale doesn’t have to be cooked. We love a robust salad with raw kale and a delicious dressing, like this Chicken & Kale Caesar-Style Salad with Radishes & Almonds.

Why Kale?

We could equate the rise in kale’s popularity to an increased awareness of health. As Jennifer Iserloh, co-author of 50 Shades of Kale, puts it, “Kale is the king of the superfood kingdom. People are incredibly interested in health and more and more people are cooking at home—kale is cheap, versatile, and one of the best foods you can put in your body.”

But it’s not just because of a desire to eat better. Kristen Beddard Heimann, founder of The Kale Project, sort of agrees. She equates the soaring rise to a combination of health awareness, an increased popularity in farm-to-table restaurants and the rise of the internet and high profile food bloggers and celebrities. As she puts it, a lot of it has to do with stars “creating a lifestyle that people aspire to.” Case in point, Gwenyth Paltrow makes kale chips on Ellen. People go crazy.

Then there’s the influence of our personal relationship to food and our ability to share that relationship; “If Instagram had been around when sundried tomatoes (1985) or arugula (1990) were hot, I’m sure there would have been more backlash. because the trend would have spread so much. like it has with kale. Kale just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” says Beddard Heimann.

Is kale still cool?

Based on search trend data, the official kale trend kicked off somewhere between 2007 and 2009. According to Bon Appétit, 2012 was the Year of Kale. That puts us well past the prime of the kale trend, but it’s far from over. Today, there are more ways to cook kale than ever. It make no longer be an essential salad in fine dining establishments, but it’s a hearty and widely available green that we love cooking at home. Trends come and go, but kale’s nutritional power means it’s here to stay.