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.

A Guide to Homemade Fresh Tomato Salsa

Fresh pico de gallo on nachos
Homemade nachos with fresh salsa

Fresh salsa is versatile, delicious, and easy to make at home. A classic pico de gallo is simply a well-season combination of tomatoes, onion, herbs, jalapeño, and lime juice. From there, it’s infinitely customizable. Try adding fresh or grilled corn, charred tomatillos, or even a cut up fruit, like mango. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to homemade salsa, but there are a few tips and tricks you can follow for the best results.

How to make a fresh salsa

Choose the best tomatoes for salsa 

Fresh salsa calls for a firm tomato that will retain some structure even when it’s thrown in the mix with salt and acidic lime juice. Look for a hearty varietal like Roma or beefsteak. Delicate heirloom tomatoes may end up a little mushy in a salsa. Cherry or grape tomatoes, even though they have a great flavor, will be difficult to cut evenly. 

Aim for even cuts 

The perfect bite of salsa should have a little bit of everything. When chopping, aim for small, even cuts. That way you won’t end up accidentally biting into a large chunk of onion or an entire jalapeño.

jalapeño for homemade salsa
Spice up your homemade salsa

Control your spice level

When you make your own salsa, the spice level is up to you. For a salsa with a kick, finely dice and add a whole jalapeño. For a more mild spice, use a knife to remove the seeds and ribs from any spicy peppers before finely dicing and incorporating.  

Avoid watery salsa 

Everyone loves a juicy tomato, but no one wants a watery salsa. After dicing your tomatoes, sprinkle them with salt, transfer them to a colander, and allow them to rest for 15-30 minutes. The salt will draw excess moisture out of the tomatoes, and the colander will allow it to run off. This step also ensures thoroughly seasoned tomatoes. 

Give it time 

After everything is combined, let the salsa sit together for at least a few hours before serving. This will give the flavors time to meld and mature. Pico de gallo will keep for up to 3 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. 

Basic Easy Pico De Gallo Recipe 

Ingredients 

  • 8ish Roma tomatoes 
  • 1 Jalapeno pepper, or pepper of your preference  
  • ½ Cup chopped herbs, like cilantro, or a mixture of cilantro and parsley 
  • Juice from one lime 
  • Salt 

Other ingredient ideas: 

  • Peach 
  • Tomatillo
  • Corn kernels 
  • Scallions 

Instructions 

Medium-dice the Roma tomatoes and toss with a generous teaspoon of salt. Transfer to a colander, and allow them to drain for 15-30 minutes. 

While the tomatoes rest, finely chop the remaining ingredients and juice the lime. Stir to combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and taste for seasoning. Add more salt or lime if desired. Allow your homemade salsa to rest in the fridge for at least one hour before serving.

A Guide to Compound Butter

compound butter on steak
Herb butter is a decadent topping for steak

What is compound butter? 

‘Compound’ refers to something that is composed of two or more things. Compound butter is simply butter that has one or more mix-ins. These blended butters add delicious flavor to anything they’re paired with, either savory or sweet. 

How to make compound butter

sweet compound butter
Let the butter soften before mixing

To make compound butter, let it soften to room temperature and mash or whip in any desired flavorings. On the savory side, you could add spice blends, herbs, citrus juice or zest, garlic, grated cheese, miso, mustard, and so much more. On the sweet side, opt for sugar, maple syrup, honey, citrus, chopped up candied ginger, marmalade, and more. 

Place the blended butter in parchement paper

Although you can use either salted or unsalted butter, unsalted butter will allow you to control the amount of salt added to the butter. Once the butter has softened, you can mix in your flavorings with a fork or get it really whipped with a hand or stand mixer. When the butter mixture is thoroughly combined, use parchment paper to form the butter into a log, place in a ziploc bag, and refrigerate to harden the butter again. 

And form into a roll

How to use compound butter

Once you have compound butter on hand in the fridge, the possibilities are endless. Savory butters are excellent on all kinds of proteins including steaks, pork chops, fish and shellfish. You can also liven up a side dish with a pat of butter on vegetables, or spread onto rolls and cornbread. Sweet butters will add a special touch to scones, waffles, pancakes and muffins. 

Compound butter kept in the fridge should be used within a week. You can also freeze the butter to make it last longer. 

sweet compound butter on toast

Compound butter recipe ideas

Savory

Some classic combinations for savory butters are garlic and herb butter for steaks or citrus butters for seafood. Could somehow point to the butcher bundles here as options for topping them. We mentioned both of those options toppers in the content booklet.

Sweet

You can’t go wrong with a cinnamon sugar butter. You can also make a hot honey butter with honey and hot sauce, or honey and crushed red pepper flakes. Try it on your favorite chicken dish.

Try making your own sweet or savory butter at home to pair with the high-quality proteins in Blue Apron Butcher Bundles.

Pecorino Romano vs. Parmigiano-Reggiano

parmesan cheese
Simply beautiful

There’s a whole wide world of cheeses. Some are soft and mild, while others are extremely pungent. On the grand scale of Brie to Limburger, Pecorino and Parmesan can seem pretty similar. Both are hard salty cheeses from Italy, and they’re both frequently in the mix with pasta. However, they’re not the same cheese. Read on to learn the difference between Pecorino Romano and Parmesan. 

Pecorino Romano vs. Parmesan 

If you lay a slice of Pecorino Romano next to a slice of Parmesan, you’ll notice some differences right away. Pecorino is whiter and slightly softer. Parmesan is more golden, and very hard and dry. Now take a taste. Overall, Parmesan has a more nutty flavor. The super-aged Parmesans can even have a hint of caramel flavor. Pecorino will be brighter, with more grassy flavor and sharp saltiness. These differences are a result of different production methods. 

Parmesan

Parmesan is made from cow’s milk. It must be aged for at least 12 months. The aging process helps create the nutty, complex flavor that Parmesan is known for. This hard, crumbly cheese gets its name from the region in which it’s produced. True Parmigiano-Reggiano must be made in one of five provinces within Emilia-Romagna. 

Parmesan cheese can be thinly sliced and served as an appetizer, or grated over salads or pastas. Grated Parmesan can also be mixed into meatballs. Basically, no matter what you sprinkle it on, it will add a pop of savory saltiness. Pro tip: Buy a wedge of Parmesan to use at home. When it’s all gone, save the rind. You can drop the rinds into beans, soups, or stews as they simmer to add a cheesy flavor to the dish. 

parmesan cheese rinds
Save these!

Pecorino 

Pecorino, and it’s most famous family member, Pecorino Romano, is also a hard, salty cheese. At first glance, Pecorino may seem similar to Parmesan, but it’s far from identical. Pecorino Romano is made from sheep’s cheese, which gives it a more grassy and earthy flavor. Pecorino is also typically younger than Parmesan. The minimum aging requirement for Pecorino is only 5-8 months. This creates a slightly more moist, greener tasting cheese. 

pecorino romano cheese
Delicious crumbles

Pecorino Romano is the star of cacio e pepe, where the tangy character it gets from sheep’s cheese has an opportunity to shine. Pecorino also works well as a grating cheese, and will be delicious over pasta and salads. If you know you love Pecorino Romano, try looking for a few other varieties, like Pecorino Siciliano, which is often made with an incorporation of black peppercorns. 

Now that you know all about the difference between Pecorino and Parmesan, here are some recipes to get you cooking:

Recipes with Parmesan cheese

Stovetop Chicken Parmesan with Elicoidali Pasta

Stovetop Chicken Parmesan with Elicoidali Pasta

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken with Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Roasted Broccoli

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken with Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Roasted Broccoli

Chile Butter Steaks with Parmesan Potatoes & Spinach

Chile Butter Steaks with Parmesan Potatoes & Spinach

Recipes with Pecorino Romano cheese

Summer Vegetable Gnocchi with Pecorino Romano Cheese

Summer Vegetable Gnocchi with Pecorino Romano Cheese

Zucchini Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella & Pecorino Cheese

Zucchini Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella & Pecorino Cheese

Za’atar-Roasted Broccoli Salad with Fregola Sarda, Pecorino Cheese & Tahini Dressing

Za'atar-Roasted Broccoli Salad with Fregola Sarda, Pecorino Cheese & Tahini Dressing

The Best Types of Salt for Cooking at Home

best flaky salt for cooking

Salt is just as important on a delicate caramel as it is on a thick steak. Salt does more than improve flavor, it intensifies it. Salt reduces bitterness, enhances sweetness, and provides balance to any dish. Finding the best type of salt for cooking can take your dish to the next level.

Just as bakers have several kinds of flours in their arsenals, cooks should have several kinds of salts in theirs. Chemically, all salts are the same: a compound of sodium and chloride. Gastronomically, salts can be very different. What distinguishes one from another are texture, shape, and mineral content—qualities that affect how a salt tastes as well as how a pinch interacts with the food you’re cooking.

Watch the Video: How to Season to Taste

Here are twelve common salts that every cook should know:

Rock Salt

Rock salt can be mined all over the earth. Most commercially available rock salt is refined, and needs to be ground. If you’re planning to cook with it, make sure to purchase food grade salt, not the stuff that they spread on the road in the winter. Cooking with rock salt can give food a distinctive taste because of its mineral content.

Table Salt

Table salt is the most common type of salt found in American kitchens. It comes plain or iodized, but the addition of iodine can impart a slightly bitter aftertaste. These tiny uniform crystals pour smoothly and dissolve easily because of anti-caking agents, making it a go-to for savory sauces and sweet treats.
When to use it: Filling the shaker, making sauces or dressings, baking

salt cellar
This salt cellar makes for easy storage

Kosher Salt

This coarse, flaky salt was originally used for koshering meat because the multi-faceted crystals cling well to damp surfaces. This salt dissolves easily, and its flavor disperses quickly. It’s widely available, and home cooks use it on everything from pork roast to popcorn. If you’re using kosher salt to bake, be aware that the large crystals take up more space than the tiny grains or table salt. If you’re measuring by volume, that means that a teaspoon of kosher salt isn’t nearly as salty as a teaspoon of table salt.
When to use it: Seasoning meat and vegetables and filling your salt cellar

Coarse Salt

Try using this large-grained salt in a grinder, similar to a pepper mill. This is an easy way to serve up freshly ground sea salt with all of your meals. Coarse salt tends to be less moisture-sensitive than its finer-grained counterparts, so it resists caking and is easily stored.
When to use it: Grind over any dish for a freshly ground salt flavor or create a salt crust on meat

Sea Salt

The soft, flaky texture of sea salt crystals is a product of seawater evaporation. The process is slow and expensive, so customers pay a premium for this stuff. Though the shapes of the flakes are large and irregular, the flavor remains mild, clean, and consistent. Sea salt doesn’t have any of the bitterness that some table salts do.
When to use it: Sprinkle on top of finished dishes to enhance the natural flavors and add a delicate crunch

Here are six salts that every cook should have on hand, from kosher to rock salt.
Flaky sea salt for finishing

Truffle Salt

Truffle salt is a flavored salt made from mixing traditional sea salts with dried pieces of black or white truffle. Good truffle salts are intensely aromatic, and should be full of big truffle flavor. Truffle salt isn’t for cooking. It should be sprinkled on a finished dish to add an extra punch of flavor. When to use it: Sprinkle on top of finished dishes like popcorn, french fries, and even scrambled eggs.

Fleur de Sel

Fluer de sel is a type of sea salt that forms naturally on the surface of saltwater as it evaporates. This salt has been harvested for centuries. It gets its name from the flower-like appearance of the crystals that it forms. Fleur de sel is harvested directly from the sea without being refined. It’s rich in natural minerals, and will bring a lot more mineral flavor and character than a purified table salt. Use Fluer de sel as a finishing salt on roasted vegetables to appreciate its natural complexity. When to use it: Sprinkle on top of finished dishes like seared fish or roasted vegetables.

Himalayan Salt

Himalayan salt is mined in Pakistan. It’s known for its pink color, which is caused by naturally occurring minerals. Himalayan salt can be used in cooking, or as a finishing salt. When to use it: Use in cooking or as a finishing salt.

Maldon Salt

Maldon salt is harvested in the UK, in the town of Maldon. It’s known for its shape. Each salt crystal is a small pyramid. Maldon salt is delightfully crunchy. It should be used as a finishing salt; sprinkled on finished dishes to add flavor and texture. Maldon salt is a great choice for sprinkling on brownies or cookies for a sweet and salty treat. When to use it: Use as a finishing salt for sweet or savory dishes.

Red Salt

Red salt is also known as Alaea salt or Hawaiian red salt. This salt gets its red color from iron rich volcanic clay. This salt is popular in Hawaiian cooking, where it is used in traditional dishes like kalua pork and poke. When to use it: Use Hawaiian-inspired dishes, or to add a pop of color to finished dishes.

Black Salt

Naturally occurring black salt, also known Kala namak, or black Himalayan salt, is mined in India and Pakistan. Its black color comes from naturally occurring minerals. Black salt also contains a small amount of sulfur, which creates a pungent smell and taste. Because of its complex flavor, black salt can be great for vegan cooking. When cooking with black salt, be aware that a small pinch goes a long way. When to use it: Use in vegan cooking, or on mild foods like potatoes and popcorn.

Smoked Gray Sea Salt

This exciting gourmet salt adds a unique smoky flavor to savory dishes. When shopping for smoked sea salt, make sure to find one that’s naturally smoked and doesn’t use liquid smoke for flavoring. Traditional cold smoking adds a sophisticatedly subtle pungency that enhances fish, meat and poultry.
When to use it: When grilling, oven roasting, cooking salmon, making marinades, serving lentil soup, or sprinkling over popcorn or nuts

4 Ways to Cook Tofu

Depending on how you prepare it, tofu can be soft, creamy, crispy, or crunchy. If you cook it with care, tofu can be the perfect protein in almost any meal. We love tofu as the star of vegetarian dishes, or served alongside meats in dishes like Mapo tofu. 

Baked 

Bake the tofu

Baking is a great method to use for grain bowls or salads with firm or extra firm tofu. Clean-up is a breeze with this method, especially if you coat the pan with aluminum foil.  

Line a sheet pan with foil; lightly oil the foil. Transfer the diced tofu to the foil. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and any other spices. Gently toss to coat. Arrange in an even layer. Bake 19 to 21 minutes, or until browned and slightly crispy. Remove from the oven.

Fried 

Cook the tofu & serve your dish

If you want a lot of crunch, breading and frying is the way to go. Katsu tofu makes a delicious rice bowl, and would even be a delicious filling for a fried tofu sandwich. 

In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat a thin layer of oil on medium-high. Once the oil is hot enough that a pinch of breadcrumbs sizzles immediately when added, add the coated tofu in an even layer. Cook 3 to 4 minutes per side (if the pan seems dry, add a drizzle of oil before flipping), or until golden brown and crispy. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and immediately season with salt.

Seared 

Cook the tofu & serve your dish:

For a crispy exterior and a soft interior, try searing firm or extra firm tofu. This method works quickly, which makes it ideal for busy weeknight dinners. 

Transfer the pressed tofu to a cutting board; cut lengthwise into 4 equal-sized pieces. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. In the same pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the seasoned tofu pieces in an even layer. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until browned. Flip and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. 

Heated 

Make the mapo tofu:

Silken tofu is too delicate to cook using the methods above. The best way to cook silken tofu is simply to heat gently before serving. 

If you’re preparing a soup or a sauce, you can heat the tofu directly in it. Just add the tofu to the pan and cook, occasionally stirring gently, for 3-5 minutes, until the tofu has absorbed some flavor and is heated. 

If you’re serving the tofu on it’s own, like in a vegetable bibimbap, you can heat the tofu in a steamer or for 1-2 minutes in the microwave.


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A Guide to Stone Fruit

Sweet and juicy stone fruits thrive during the summer months. From juicy plums to succulent peaches, here are a few of our favorite ways to cook with stone fruit.

What is a stone fruit? 

You may have guessed this from the name: stone fruits are characterized by large center pits. This includes a lot of our favorite summer fruits like peaches, nectarines, and plums. In addition to pits, stone fruits usually have thin skins, and soft, fleshy fruit. Read on to learn more about our favorite stone fruits, when they’re in season, and how to eat them. 

Types of Stone Fruit 

Peaches

Peach season kicks in at the end of summer. Find the best peaches from late July through September. 

We love peaches baked into sweet pies, as the base of peach crumble, or starring in savory dishes like Chicken & Spicy Peach Pan Sauce with Sesame-Roasted Broccoli & Jasmine Rice or Seared Chicken in Coconut-Peach Broth with Bok Choy & Jasmine Rice

Plums

Plum season is from May to late July depending on the variety. 

Grilled Goat Cheese & Plum Jam Sandwiches with Endive & Marinated Cucumber Salad

Dark purple damson plums are the most popular variety in American supermarkets, but the world of plums has a lot more to offer. From oblong prune plums, to sweet yellow mirabelle plums, there are many varieties available in stores and at farmers markets. Of course plums are excellent in desserts or as a snack, but for an unexpected treat, try this Grilled Goat Cheese & Plum Jam Sandwich.

Pluots 

Pluot season runs from May to August. 

Pluots are a cross between apricots and plums. They’re sometimes called plumcots or apriplum. Much like plums, pluots can be a great accompaniment to seared meats and other savory dishes.  Try using a pluot to make the topping for this Seared Pork Chops & Kamut with Corn, Spinach & Stone Fruit-Cherry Tomato Salsa

Cherries

Cherries are in season from July to August.

In the U.S., cherries thrive in cooler states like Washington and Oregon. For a decadent dinner, try pairing cherries with a rich meat, like we did in this recipe for Sour Cherry-Glazed Lamb Chops with Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Calabrian Chile Yogurt.

Nectarines

Nectarines are in season from April to August. For Chilean nectarines, the season begins in December.

Snow Pea & Nectarine Salad with Grana Padano & Pistachios

To enjoy their natural sweetness, try a simple preparation. Nectarines bring sweet, juicy flavor to a light vibrant salad. We love the salty sweet combination in this Snow Pea & Nectarine Salad with Grana Padano & Pistachios.

Mangoes

There are over 1000 types of mango, and not all are in season at the same time. The bulk are in season over the summer.

Mangoes have a large, thin seed. Mango peel has been known to cause allergic reactions in many people, and may have a bitter taste. The best bet is to discard it. Mangoes are delicious in sweet and savory dishes, including salads and salsas. 

Indian-Style Burgers with Creamy Mango Chutney & Spicy Cucumber

We topped off this burger with a bright mango chutney to add zip to the rich beef patty. In the mood for fruit?

Check out our guide to apple varieties.

Six Easy Dairy-Free Cooking Swaps

Looking to cut the dairy in your diet? Whether you’re lactose intolerant, thinking about going plant-based, or just trying out Meatless Monday, these dairy-free swaps will make any meal special. 

Dairy-Free Substitutions 

Whipped cream 

This dairy-free whipped cream is easy to make—all you need is a can of coconut milk. Just refrigerate the coconut milk until it’s chilled, then use an electric mixer and beat until soft, fluffy peaks form.  For extra flavor try adding a sweetener of your choice, vanilla extract, or a dash of cinnamon. 

Buttermilk 

This vegan buttermilk replicates buttermilk’s signature tang with a splash of apple cider vinegar. It’s easy to make at home. Try using it in vegan biscuits, mashed potatoes, or pancakes. 

Sour cream 

Nachos wouldn’t be the same without a drizzle of sour cream. Adding lime juice and cashews to this dairy-free version will bring the tart and creamy contrast that you’re craving to any dish. 

Ice cream 

To soothe your sweet tooth, try subbing in this fruity blueberry whip for dairy-based ice cream. All you need to make this at home is a blender. Buying frozen blueberries makes this dessert unbelievably easy. 

cashews

Heavy cream 

Heavy cream adds luxurious texture to sauces and soups. This dairy-free alternative uses cashews to replicate the decadent richness of cream. Soak your cashews in warm water for 2-3 hours for the best results. 

Parmesan cheese 

You’ve probably heard of using nutritional yeast as a dairy-free substitute for parmesan. This recipe starts with nutritional yeast, but then adds texture and flavor with nuts and garlic powder. It’s the perfect topping for vegan pastas and salads.  

You don’t need to be vegan to enjoy these dairy-free recipes: they’re delicious in their own right. No matter what you’re making, these Meatless Monday-approved options will make going dairy-free a cinch.

How to Prepare Artichokes

how to prepare artichokes by trimming the top
Whole artichokes after trimming the top

Fresh artichokes are a true gift of spring, but there is a barrier to entry: the tough, spiky leaves. Learning how to prepare artichokes is essential for cooks. Filleting a raw fish, carving a chicken, and paring and artichoke down to its heart are all classic elements of culinary school final exams. 

Once you’ve mastered the prep, it’s time for the fun part. Fresh artichokes are delicious stuffed with cheese and breadcrumbs and baked. The hearts can be pan-fried and served on risotto, but don’t overlook the simplest method. Boiled artichokes eaten with melted butter are a delicacy; we consider them the lobster of vegetables. Learn how to prepare artichokes, and they’ll quickly become one of your favorite foods.

How to trim an artichoke

Start by peeling off any very rough outer leaves. Trim the stem so the artichoke can lay flat. Then, using a serrated kitchen knife, cut off the top ⅓  of the flower (did you know it’s a flower?). If your petals have aggressive spikes, you can trim each leaf tip with kitchen shears.

artichoke cut in half
Cut in half and ready to grill

Alternatively, you can cut the artichoke in half long ways. Remove the toughest leaves, then use a spoon to scoop out the center, removing the fuzzy hairs that make up the choke. Trim the bottom ½ inch of the stem. This is a great way to prepare an artichoke before grilling, braising, or roasting. 

How to cook an artichoke

Boiled

Fill a large pot with water and the juice of one lemon. Once boiling, add the prepared artichokes and cook for 30-35 minutes, or until the petals are easily removed and the stem is tender when pierced with a knife. 

Steamed

Add 2 inches of water to a large pot fitted with a steamer basket. Once the water is boiling, add the artichokes, turn the heat down to a simmer, and cover. Cook for 45 minutes to 1.5 hours, or until the petals are easily removed and the stem is tender when pierced with a knife. 

Baked

Prepare artichokes by trimming and seasoning. Place the artichokes in a pan with some water in the bottom and cover tightly with foil. Bake at 475°F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a leaf comes off easily. We served these baked stuffed artichokes with a side salad featuring mushrooms and pears.

Braised

Sear artichokes in a pan with butter for 5 minutes. Add enough stock to reach half way up the vegetables, cover, and cook for 20 minutes or until tender. 

How to use jarred artichoke hearts

Jarred artichoke hearts

While nothing can beat a fresh artichoke, a jarred artichoke works well in certain applications. They are usually marinated, and can be quite acidic, so these are best paired with lots of fat. Great uses include:

  • Spinach artichoke dip (made with cream cheese)
  • Creamy artichoke pasta (with lots of parmesan cheese, cream and/or butter)
  • Artichoke Bruschetta (made with mayonnaise)

A Guide to Types of Mushrooms

assorted types of mushrooms
Assorted types of mushrooms

Mushrooms are a quirky food. They’re neither vegetable nor meat. Technically, they’re the fruit of fungus plants. There are over 14,000 types of mushrooms, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Some mushrooms are expensive delicacies, while others will just pop up uninvited in your lawn.

Edible mushrooms are full of umami flavor, which makes them hearty and satisfying. This natural savory taste is one of the reasons they are often used as a meat substitute. Mushrooms can add rich flavor and texture to everything from a bowl of ramen to a slice of pizza. These are some of our favorite types of mushrooms to cook with.

Button mushrooms

types of mushrooms: button mushroom
White button mushrooms

What you’re about to read may shock you: button, cremini, and portobello mushrooms are actually all the same type of mushroom. The main difference between tiny mild button mushrooms and big flavorful portobello mushrooms is actually just maturity. Button mushrooms are harvested while they’re very young. These mushrooms have a mild flavor and soft texture that make them suitable for eating raw. Slice them up and throw them in salads, or sauté them and use them to top off a classic steakhouse burger.

Cremini 

cremini mushrooms
Cremini mushrooms are sometimes called “baby bellas”

These small dark brown mushrooms are sometimes marketed as ‘baby bellas’ or ‘baby portobello’ mushrooms. Cremini mushrooms have matured enough to develop a rich flavor. They’re delicious sautéed. Cremini mushrooms are younger, smaller, and slightly milder than portobello mushrooms.

Portobello 

These big ol’ mushrooms are one of the most popular types of mushrooms to use as a meat substitute. They’re hearty and satisfying. Their large size makes them durable, which means that they’ll fare extremely well in a hot pan or on the grill. You’ll often see them taking the place of a beef patty in a burger.

Maitake

maitake mushrooms
That’s a beautiful mushroom

Also known as “hen of the woods”, these flowery mushrooms are less common in supermarkets than button or cremini. Try searing them in a hot pan to crisp up the outside and serving them as a side dish. The word “maitake” means “dancing mushroom” in Japanese, apparently because foragers used to be so happy to find a maitake that they’d dance for joy!

Shiitake 

Dried shiitake mushrooms
Dried shiitake mushrooms

Shiitake mushroom originated in Asia. You’ll find them in both fresh and dried form. Like many mushrooms, they have a meaty taste. Shiitake mushrooms also have a low water content that gives them a chewy texture. This makes them excellent for adding a bit of texture to dishes like this Artichoke-Shiitake Risotto

Oyster mushroom

Oyster mushrooms are some of our favorite types of mushrooms. These fungi have a delicate texture and lovely savory flavor. Their natural richness makes them easy to prepare: they don’t need a lot to be delicious! Try incorporating them into a simple sauté and serving alongside your favorite protein. 

King Oyster Mushroom

large king oyster mushrooms
King oyster mushrooms

King oyster mushrooms, also known as king trumpet mushrooms, are the largest in the grouping of oyster mushrooms. Served raw, they’re extremely mild. Their rich, earthy flavor becomes apparent when they’re browned to a crisp, like in our recipe for tomato-mushroom toast. Try these thick slices of golden toast with herbed mayo and juicy tomatoes, for a truly one-of-a-kind meal.

Enoki mushroom

enoki mushrooms
Crunchy enoki mushrooms

Enoki mushrooms have a pleasantly crunchy texture that comes from their long stems. These mild mushrooms are common in Asian cuisine, and can be found raw, cooked in soups, or sauteed. 

Porcini mushrooms

Dried porcini mushooms

Porcini mushrooms are light brown mushrooms with a pleasant savory, nutty flavor. Porcini mushrooms are common in Italian cuisine. We love them in rich pastas and risottos. 

Feeling inspired? Wipe those mushrooms off and get cooking.