What’s the Best Food to Bring to the Beach?

beach food picnic
Make sure olives are pitted

Going to the beach is supposed to be relaxing, but sometimes planning for a day of doing nothing can be surprisingly stressful. Your whole beach crew needs sun protection, a prime spot on the sand, and of course, the perfect beach food. That last item can get a little tricky—some foods are better suited for the beach than others. To make relaxing a little easier, here’s a rundown of the best foods to bring to the beach. 

To be a good beach treat, a snack needs to check a few basic boxes. The key elements of an oceanside lunch are: 

A beach food needs to travel well

From cooler, to car, to shore, it might be hours from when you pack your lunch to the time you dig in. The best beach foods should be able to hold up to the heat, and maybe even improve as they sit. This means no temperature sensitive items. Sorry, but poke is off the menu. 

Find a snack that doesn’t produce trash

The goal here is to make things easier. You don’t want to spend your day at the beach keeping track of wrappers or other refuse, and you certainly don’t want to leave anything behind on the pristine sands. If you plan ahead, this should be easy to solve for. Just pit any cherries before you pack them, slice a watermelon and discard the rind, and avoid individually wrapped snacks. 

Focus on refreshing foods

Hours out in the heat can be depleting, even if you’re just lounging. Fresh foods with a high water content and salty foods to replace lost electrolytes will keep you frolicking in the waters all afternoon. Of course, we can’t deny the pleasure of a stealthy glass or rosé or a pre-made cocktail, even if it makes you a little sleepy. Just make sure to bring along plenty of water. 

Highly recommended: 

Pre-cut fruit 

Some fruits will travel better than others. Raspberries are lovely, but are a little delicate for the beach. Strawberries with the tops trimmed off will transport well and be easy to eat. Be sure to remove any pits or peels before packing your fruit, lest you be burdened with scraps to throw away. Sliced apples may oxidize slightly, but will still be fine to eat. If you don’t like the appearance of browning, toss them in lemon juice before packing. Grapes are also a great choice.

watermelon is a good beach food

Potato chips 

Any chip will work, but potato chips are the perfect salty treat to satisfy cravings and encourage you to drink water. They’re delicious on their own, which means you don’t have to fuss with any potentially messy dips or salsas. 

Cheese and crackers

If you’re aiming for a sophisticated vibe, throw some soft cheeses in a cooler. They’ll keep well, and are delicious at room temperature. Be sure to pack the requisite tools. Having a knife, plate, and napkins will make things infinitely easier. 

Pressed sandwiches

Eventually, you may crave a more substantial meal. That’s when it’s time to bust out the sandwiches. When packing the perfect beach sandwich, the secret is in the bread. A sliced sandwich-style bread can get soft and soggy over time. A hearty baguette or ciabatta will absorb flavors and only grow more delicious. A pressed sandwich like a cuban or a pan bagnat is the ultimate travel hero—even if it ends up squished under a book, it will just enhance the flavor.   

Looking for more travel treats? Try our favorite snack for road trips.

9 Outstanding Grilled Cheese Recipes

Here’s our formula for the best grilled cheese.

Bread + cheese + anything you like! 

If that sounds simple, it’s because it is. Pretty much any food in your kitchen will be delicious when sandwiched between crispy bread and gooey cheese. Ok, not chocolate. Follow your instincts here. If it sounds like it will be good, it probably will be. 

Adding in a few extra ingredients and making a little side salad can transform a this simple sandwich from an after school snack to a satisfying meal. 

Here are a few of our favorite ways to add a gourmet touch to a classic grilled cheese. 

Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese with Butter Lettuce Salad & Creamy Fig Dressing

By filling slices of warm, golden brown sourdough bread with layers of caramelized onion and melty fontina and cheddar cheeses, we’re giving this comfort food favorite a gourmet boost. For a sweet contrast, we’re dressing buttery leaves of lettuce with a piquant mix of fig spread and creamy mustard sauce, plus almonds for a bit of crunch.

onion best grilled cheese

Sweet Pepper & Fig Grilled Cheese with Butter Lettuce & Peach Salad

These flavorful sandwiches highlight layers of smoky Gouda and nutty fontina cheese, sweet fig spread, and tender sautéed peppers—deliciously brought together inside crunchy toasted sourdough. We’re serving them with a refreshing salad of soft butter lettuce tossed with a bright combo of sweet peach and crisp cucumber.

best grilled cheese with peppers

Fontina & Apple Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Roasted Broccoli

This gourmet spin features crisp slices of apple, which find irresistibly savory complement from layers of melty fontina, tangy whole grain mustard, and fresh chives. On the side, roasted broccoli tossed with golden raisins in a bright, creamy dressing brings flavorful contrast to the dish.

sandwich and broccoli

Mango Chutney Grilled Cheese with Apple & Romaine Lettuce Salad

Between slices of irresistibly golden brown bread, a layer of melted gouda and cheddar cheese finds sweet and spicy complement from mango chutney and fresh jalapeño pepper.

sandwich with peppers and salad

Olive & Pepper Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Butter Lettuce & Cherry Tomato Salad

This unique sandwich is inspired by a New Orleans favorite: the zesty muffuletta sandwich, known for its delicious filling of cheese, pickled peppers, olives, and more. For our vegetarian take, we’re using a duo of tangy pickled goathorn peppers and briny olives, which pairs perfectly with melted cheddar on crispy sourdough bread. Our side salad of butter lettuce tossed with a creamy dressing and topped with cherry tomatoes (yours may be red or yellow) brings refreshing crunch and flavor to the mix.

grilled cheese with olives

Prosciutto & Fontina Grilled Cheese with Kale Salad

These irresistible sandwiches feature sliced prosciutto (an Italian dry-cured ham), which finds savory-sweet complement from layers of melty fontina and creamy fig mayo. After cooking the sandwiches, we’re rubbing the toasted sourdough with a whole clove of garlic, for an aromatic touch.

sandwich with prosciutto

Chipotle-Glazed Veggie Grilled Cheese with Lime-Mayo Corn

By filling slices of warm, golden brown sourdough bread with layers of chipotle-glazed sautéed vegetables and melty gouda and monterey jack cheeses, we’re giving this comfort food favorite a gourmet boost. We’ll be serving them with a side of corn on the cob dressed with layers of creamy lime mayo and our new everything bagel seasoning—a delicious, familiar blend including poppy seeds, sesame seeds, onion and garlic.

Mushroom Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Pear Salad

In this recipe, grilled cheese gets an easy, elegant makeover with smoky gouda and earthy mushrooms, layered between slices of sourdough. A crisp side salad of arugula and pear cuts through the richness of the sandwiches.

Grilled Fontina Cheese & Mint Sandwiches with Peach, Almond & Arugula Salad

Bright, refreshing flavors bring delightful balance to these quick and easy grilled cheese sandwiches. At their center is buttery Fontina, which melts beautifully—and partners perfectly with the tang of quick-pickled shallot and the cooling notes of mint. We’re combining a little more mint with juicy peach, arugula and pan-toasted almonds for a side salad that echoes the complexity of our sandwiches.

Almost anything in your kitchen will make a delicious grilled cheese

Once you’ve picked out your ingredients, try this technique for making the best possible sandwich.

Make-Ahead Breakfast for New Year’s Brunch

What’s better than staying in on New Year’s Day? With a little planning, you can use the quiet hours during the afternoon on New Year’s Eve to prep a delicious brunch. Come January 1st, all you’ll need to do it lounge on the sofa and contemplate your resolutions.

Enter: This genius breakfast strata.

A strata is an egg casserole made with generous amounts of bread. The bread soaks up the eggs, and the entire dish bakes up into a moist, savory delight. You can add cheese, meats, herbs, or any of your other favorite breakfast flavors.

For our version, you’ll need eggs, half and half, cauliflower, onion, butter, cream cheese, Swiss cheese, and some spices. If you have leftover bread or rolls around, use them. If not, be sure to stock up before New Year’s Eve day.

make-ahead breakfast casserole ingredients

Before you go out on New Year’s Eve, tear up the bread or rolls. No need to be precise about this step, uneven chunks are totally fine.

Spoon big scoops of cream cheese on top of the bread. The dollops will melt into creamy centers when the strata cooks. To balance out the richness of the cream cheese, layer on the savory caramelized onions and cooked cauliflower.

assembling breakfast casserole

Finally, douse the bread base with a mixture of eggs, milk, seasonings, and cheese. Cover and place in the refrigerator. Storing this dish overnight will actually improve the final product. The rest gives the egg mixture time to thoroughly saturate every morsel of the bread, guaranteeing a custardy final dish.

Come the next morning, all you have to do is pop the strata in the oven.

finished breakfast strata

After 45 minutes in the oven, the cheese will melt and the vegetables will develop a deep caramelized flavor. The bread, like a pudding, puffs up and then sinks again.

Allow the dish to cool slightly, then cut into wedges, garnish with scallions, and serve to any friends who ended up sleeping in your living room.

Keep reading for the recipe!

Breakfast Casserole | Blue Apron
Continue reading “Make-Ahead Breakfast for New Year’s Brunch”

How to Make the Perfect Cheese Board

Creamy brie, salty gouda, and funky blue cheese make a balanced board.

Nothing gets a party going like a cheese board: it breaks the ice, provides a place to congregate, and gets the people snacking. While no one will turn her nose up at a box of crackers and block of extra sharp cheddar, a truly next-level cheeseboard is both impressive and easy to put together—so long as you’ve got a game plan. Read on for our guidelines and a few pro tips.

The Best Cheese for a Cheese Board

The cheese is the reason we’re all here, but the best advice is to keep it simple. Odd numbers tend to look best on a board, so pick three delicious, interesting, eclectic cheeses. Age, texture, and origin are they key factors to consider: one creamy, one crumbly, and one funky cheese is a good place to start.

cut cheese board

PRO TIP: Cut small pieces or slices into your cheese before you put the board out for guests; this is a great way to suggest a serving size, create motion in your presentation, and make people feel comfortable to dive right in. No “first person to cut into the cheese” jitters.

What is a Charcuterie Board

Charcuterie is the French word to describe cured and cooked meats like pâté, bacon, and cured salami. Incorporating some charcuterie into your cheese board, or building a separate charcuterie board with an array of cured meats, will add luxurious flavor and texture to your spread. Try visiting a local butcher to what’s in stock. Freshly shaved prosciutto and whole dried sausages will beat the precut stuff at the supermarket any day.

Picking Meats for a Charcuterie Board

Balance is key when it comes to the carnivore-friendly part of your cheese board. Texture and flavor are the most important variables: try pairing delicate prosciutto (a fan favorite) with one hard, cured salame (such as chorizo) and one soft salame (like soppressata). Avoid overkill on salt or spice. If you’ve loaded up on powerful flavors, add a slice of pâté or terrine to provide a mild foil for them.

PRO TIP: Lili Dagan, Culinary Manager, is the resident cheese board expert in the Test Kitchen after years perfecting the craft while working in events. Her signature move? A meat river. Fanning out delicately rumpled prosciutto or slices of salami into a ribbon that travels from one end of the board to the other makes the arrangement feel ample and deliberate.

cheese board with prosciutto

Other Additions to a Cheese & Charcuterie Board

A cheese board goes from good to great with the addition of a few *extras* — some crunchy, tender, sweet, and pickly bits to cut through the salt and fat of the main event. Little bowls of one-biters like roasted nuts or olives, provide necessary textural contrast. Briny bites like a cornichons or gherkins refresh your palate. Finish things off with a few condiments. Grainy mustard, honey, and jam all adds a spreadable or drizzly pop of flavor. The sweet and salty contrast of jam or honey will work will with almost any cheese.

Best Crackers for Cheese

PRO TIP: Don’t forget the carbs. Your cheeses and spreads will be SO lonely without something to put them on. Simple crackers will do the trick, providing a dependable base without overpowering any exciting flavors. For a gourmet touch, try this: thinly slice a baguette, brush it with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and toast in a 400ºF oven for 15-20 minutes, flipping once.

cheese board with fruit

Charcuterie & Cheese Board Tips

Fruit is your friend! Celebrate the time of year by adding some seasonal produce to your board. Concord grapes and stone fruit in the summer or citrus and pears in the winter add color, freshness, and a welcome respite from cheese.

PRO TIP: Temperature matters. Take your cheese out of the refrigerator at least 1 hour before you plan to serve it, to come to room temperature. A cheese’s flavor, smell, and texture changes in the cold (and not in a good way), and you want those wedges and wheels to shine!


cheese board with meat and wine

Charcuterie & Cheese Board Pairings

Cheese’s best friend? Wine, of course. Check out the Blue Apron collection of food-friendly white wines, six wines to pair with your festive holiday cheese board.

15 Recipes for Cheesy Dinners

We don’t play favorites when it comes to cheese. We love soft melty cheese mozzarella just as much as we love sharp salty Parmesan. Whether we’re making soups, salads, or sandwiches, we truly believe that almost every dinner can be improved by a pile of cheese. If you’re looking for dinner inspiration, it might just be lying in the cheese aisle. Try these 15 recipes for crowd-pleasing cheesy dinners that everyone will love. 

Cheesy Chipotle Beef Flautas with Radishes & Roasted Carrots

This take on the classic Mexican dish (whose name is a reference to its flute-like shape) features flour tortillas stuffed with a spicy, cheesy filling, then tightly rolled and lightly pan fried on all sides for satisfying crunch.

Cheesy Chipotle Beef Flautas with Radishes & Roasted Carrots

Three-Cheese Flatbread with Brussels Sprouts & Hot Honey

Crispy melted cheese and spicy honey make each bite of this flatbread recipe gooey and delicious. 

Three-Cheese Flatbread with Brussels Sprouts & Hot Honey

Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese with Butter Lettuce Salad & Creamy Mustard Dressing

Savory caramelized onions transform this cheesy sandwich from an after school snack to a sophisticated dinner. 

Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese with Butter Lettuce Salad & Creamy Mustard Dressing

Black Bean & Cheese Tortas with Roasted Broccoli & Lime Sour Cream

For a southwestern-inspired recipe with cheese, consider this torta. A layer of shredded Monterey Jack adds a delightfully melty cheese layer.

Black Bean & Cheese Tortas with Roasted Broccoli & Lime Sour Cream

Baked Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese with Sage Breadcrumbs & Arugula Salad

We love stovetop mac and cheese, but sometimes we want something more substantive. This version of mac and cheese gets an adult twist with the addition of butternut squash and a fontina béchamel.

Baked Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese with Sage Breadcrumbs & Arugula Salad

Pimento Cheeseburgers with Roasted Potatoes

There’s nothing wrong with a classic cheeseburger, but our Southern-inspired pimento cheese burger brings even more flavor to the table with the addition of peppers. 

Pimento Cheeseburgers with Roasted Potatoes

Pesto & Goat Cheese Fettuccine with Zucchini

Goat cheese and Grana Padano make this fettuccine into a super sophisticated take on mac and cheese. 

Pesto & Goat Cheese Fettuccine with Zucchini

Black Bean & Zucchini Enchiladas with Cheddar Cheese

For these crowd-pleasing enchiladas, a hearty medley of zucchini, black beans, corn, and tricolored quinoa fill soft flour tortillas. Top with a layer of cheddar cheese for a decadent dinner. 

Black Bean & Zucchini Enchiladas with Cheddar Cheese

Cheesy Chicken Quesadillas with Butter Lettuce & Pickled Pepper Salad

These zesty Tex-Mex quesadillas are loaded with bites of spiced chicken and melty monterey jack cheese. 

Cheesy Chicken Quesadillas with Butter Lettuce & Pickled Pepper Salad

Seared Chicken Thighs & Glazed Apple with Cheesy Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Cheesy sweet and savory mashed potatoes make the perfect side dish for any dinner. We’re serving them alongside crispy chicken thighs for a hearty dinner. 

Seared Chicken Thighs &  Glazed Apple with Cheesy Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Seared Steaks & Chive Butter with Cheesy Potato-Cauliflower Mash

If sweet potatoes aren’t your thing, try a savory combination of golden potatoes and cauliflower—mashed together with melty smoked gouda for delightfully cheesy finish.

cheese dinner with steak and potatoes

Cheesy Pesto Baked Cavatelli with Kale & Tomatoes

To create this satisfying pasta bake, you’ll mix sautéed veggies with tender bites of pasta, two kinds of melty cheese, and a dollop of herbaceous basil pesto.

Cheesy Pesto Baked Cavatelli with Kale & Tomatoes

Naan Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Nectarine & Tomato Chutney

Swap sandwich bread for naan and create a delightfully cheesy meal inspired by beloved Indian flavors. 

Naan Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Nectarine & Tomato Chutney

Sugar Snap Pea & Farmer’s Cheese Quiche with Spinach, Feta & Cucumber Salad

This veggie quiche is packed with fresh, seasonal flavor. Our filling of eggs, sugar snap peas, chives and garlic gets a delicious lift from farmer’s cheese.

cheesy quiche for dinner

Three-Cheese Calzones with Zucchini & Golden Raisins

These hearty calzones are filled with melty fontina, fresh mozzarella, and sautéed zucchini—plus a sweet twist of plump golden raisins folded right in for a cheesy dinner you can eat with your hands.

cheese calzone dinner recipe

Still in the mood for cheese? Build a gourmet cheese plate of your very own.

Homemade Jalapeño Poppers & Dipping Sauce

Eating a whole pepper? We promise, you can handle it. Even thought they’re made from whole peppers, jalapeño poppers are only mildly spicy. The tame spice level is thanks, in part, to cheese. Creamy ingredients are a delicious way to tone down the heat in jalapeño poppers.

Here, we use a filling of cream cheese and cheddar to create an at-home version of a a classic finger food. For even more cool factor, pair your poppers with a savory ranch dressing.

Homemade Jalapeno Poppers with Ranch Dipping Sauce

This recipe turns down the heat even more by removing the seeds and ribs from the jalapeños before cooking. Cut your peppers in half lengthwise, keeping the stem attached, and use a knife to cut away the ribs and scrape out the seeds. After you add the filling, you’ll be able to stick the peppers back together.

Jalapeño poppers recipe

Makes: 12 poppers
Cook Time: 25-35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • Your favorite hot sauce
  • 6 three-inch-long jalapeño peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs and seeds removed
  • ½ cup tempura batter
  • ½ cup club soda
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 quart canola or vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions:

Make the filling. In a medium bowl, thoroughly combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. Stir in the hot sauce to taste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stuff the peppers. Season the cavity of each halved pepper with salt and pepper. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling into each seasoned cavity (it should fill the cavity and create a small, rounded mound).

Bread the peppers. In a bowl, combine the tempura batter and club soda; whisk until smooth. Place the flour and breadcrumbs on 2 separate plates. Working 1 piece at a time, thoroughly coat the stuffed peppers in the flour, then in the tempura batter mixture, then in the breadcrumbs (pressing to adhere). Transfer to a plate. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to set.

Fry the peppers. In a large, high-sided pan (or cast-iron skillet), heat ½ inch of the oil on medium-high until hot. Once hot enough that a pinch of flour sizzles immediately when added to the pan, working in batches, add the breaded peppers. Cook 45 seconds to 1 minute per side, or until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and immediately season with salt. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Jalapeño Popper Ranch Dipping Sauce

Makes: ½ cup dressing

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried chives
  • ¼ teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon celery seeds

Instructions

Make the sauce. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Try these out next time you’re hosting. These satisfying bites are would be a happy hour or a game day gathering.

How to Make the Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Perfectly Crispy Grilled Cheese Sandwich

The grilled cheese plays varied roles in our lives–it may be the lunchtime diner order: two slices of white bread with gooey American cheese. It may be the late-night snack: leftover whole wheat with slices of Swiss eaten after a stressful day, à la The Devil Wears Prada. And, more and more often, it maybe be gourmet: great artisan bread, imported cheese, and fresh vegetables.

That’s the situation here. We matched slices of sourdough bread with Danish fontina cheese, which melts into an extraordinarily gooey filling. We’ve also stuffed summer heirloom tomatoes, spicy leaves of rocket, and rings of red onion in between the bread.

Delicious as they are, the ingredients aren’t everything in a grilled cheese. There’s technique too. You’ve got to get the bread crispy at the same rate as the cheese melts. You’ve got to use enough fat–butter or olive oil–in the pan so that the bread gets really golden. Below, we’re rounded up our tips for making great grilled cheese sandwiches. As if that weren’t enough, we asked our facebook fans for their tips on crafting the perfect grilled cheese. Read on to become a sandwich pro!

Grilled Cheese Toppings & Pan Grilling

Our Tips for Making the Best Grilled Cheese

The Best Cheese for Grilled Cheese

Cheese is arguably the most important ingredient in this sandwich. Use a melty cheese for the best results. For a flavor, fontina and gruyere are two of our favorite options. For pure meltiness and nostalgia, American Cheese is the answer. Avoid soft cheeses like goat cheese and feta, which don’t melt easily.

The Best Bread for Grilled Cheese

When it comes to bread, any loaf that you like will work well. What matters most is how you prepare if. For the best results, toast your bread first. A quick toast will help your bread develop the golden edges and luscious crisp that you’re after. It’ll also help prevent the bread from getting soggy, no matter how many fillings you add.

Apply Pressure

Press down on the sandwich with your spatula. This flattens the exterior against the hot pan, ensuring even cooking.

Fillings for Grilled Cheese

Add flavor with great filling ingredients, like fresh or sautéed vegetables, avocado slices, bacon, or pesto. Hearty fillings can transform this simple sandwich from snack into dinner. Try the recipes below for inspiration.

Recipes

Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese with Butter Lettuce Salad & Creamy Fig Dressing

Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese with Butter Lettuce Salad & Creamy Fig Dressing

Sweet Pepper & Fig Grilled Cheese with Butter Lettuce & Peach Salad

Sweet Pepper & Fig Grilled Cheese with Butter Lettuce & Peach Salad

Muffuletta-Style Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Baby Romaine & Pistachio Salad

Muffuletta-Style Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Baby Romaine & Pistachio Salad

Fan Favorite tips

  • The best grilled cheese has a THIN layer of mayo on the grilled-sides of both pieces of bread instead of butter. No grease, crispier bread, and meltier cheese! -Alyssa Kevlahan
  • Melt butter in the microwave, then brush the bread before putting it on the pan. Makes for the perfect medium browning throughout. Can use olive oil, in place of butter. But butter is better! -Christopher Perusse
  • Sounds weird but bread and butter pickles and potato chips- on the sandwich. Yum! -Danni Skaricki
  • Dijon mustard and multi-grain or sourdough bread. -Jane Rizza Scammon
  • My son’s grilled cheese trick, at the age of 8, was to toast his bread in the toaster. Butter both sides of both bread slices, place cheese between the bread slices and microwave for 40 seconds. He made me one once, it was actually pretty good. -Doug Riggle

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

All About Halloumi: The Undeniable Fryable Cheese

fried halloumi

We’re pleased to welcome Suzanne Kahn, author of the food blog An Overdetermined Lifeto share her research into an incredible cheese: halloumi. Read on to learn why halloumi doesn’t melt, the difference between halloumi and paneer, and everything else you’ve ever wanted to know. Then dive right in and make this Blue Apron Halloumi Sandwich.

When you write about food, it’s hard not to want to eat everything you write about immediately.

This is doubly true for halloumi. In case you haven’t heard, halloumi is a Middle Eastern cheese that can be fried or grilled without melting. I’m going to repeat that so you understand why spending a week writing about halloumi makes you very, very hungry: This is a cheese that you can fry or grill until it’s brown. It will get warm and delicious, as cheese does, but hold its shape. It’s basically a walking mozzarella stick waiting to happen.

what is halloumi

Halloumi is eaten across the Middle East and, increasingly, the world. Originally from Cyprus, halloumi is traditionally made from sheep or goat milk. As halloumi has grown in popularity, cheese makers have produced large amounts of it with cow’s milk. In 2012, after an extended lobbying battle between Cypriot dairy farmers and Cypriot shepherds and goat herders, the government mandated that all halloumi produced in Cyprus be made of at least 51 percent sheep or goat milk.

But, the truth is, what makes halloumi so special is not the milk that goes into it, but the way it is processed. The basic process for making any cheese begins with culturing milk, also known as heating milk to a temperature at which bacteria start to grow. It is at this point in production that any acids or special bacteria that promote specific flavors are added. After the milk is cultured the cheese is typically set with rennet, a complex enzyme that coagulates milk. The setting process separates curds and whey. The curds are then drained and sometimes pressed. To make many hard cheeses, after this draining, cheese makers heat the cheese again. That second heating is how halloumi gets its unique characteristics.

Why Halloumi Doesn’t Melt

During the second heating, halloumi is cooked in its own whey and brought to a temperature past the curd’s melting point, 135 degrees. I discussed the second heating with Steve Ballard, the owner of Idaho’s Ballard Family Dairy and Cheese, which makes a prize-winning halloumi-style cheese (he calls it Idaho Grilling Cheese). He explained that, when cooked in their own whey, pressed cheese curds behave like an egg being poached in boiling water: the curds come together as they cook instead of spreading out. That’s why it won’t melt.

Halloumi vs. Paneer

All cheese that gets cooked past its melting point can later be heated and hold its shape. The most common example of another such cheese is the South Asian paneer (which you might know from saag paneer and other common dishes at Indian restaurants). Paneer and halloumi are not interchangeable, although they can make good substitutes for each other in a pinch. The main difference is that paneer is a high acid cheese and halloumi is unique for having almost no acid in it at all. High acidity and low acidity both help prevent melting.

how to fry halloumi

I chatted with Steve for a while about how his family of Idaho dairy farmers got into making a halloumi-style cheese. He told me that he learned about the cheese at a course on cheddar making. Although the family continues to mostly produce cheddar, he decided that adding a grillable cheese to their offerings would make them stand out in the crowded Idaho dairy market. The bet has paid off, but not without hard work. They quickly realized that since Americans were unfamiliar with grilling cheese they would have to work hard to successfully introduce the cheese to a new population. That said, since they started producing the cheese in 2006 it has grown in popularity as knowledge of halloumi has spread.

fried halloumi with lemon

And, indeed how could a cheese that can be grilled or fried until caramelized and brown not become wildly popular? You can grill it along with vegetables in order to turn an otherwise healthy meal into something a little more indulgent. You can panfry it in olive oil and toss it with salad or scoop it up with bread. I asked Steve about his favorite things to do with his cheese. His answer made my mouth water. He told me he likes to start his morning with a few slices of grilled or seared halloumi paired with slices of navel oranges, drizzled with honey, and served next to Greek yogurt. I made a note and put navel oranges and halloumi on my next grocery list. I felt more excited about breakfast than I had in a long time.

The 8 Great Things You Can Do with Tortillas, Filling, and Maybe Some Cheese

Tortilla filling recipe ideas
A few tortillas, infinite possibilities

If you have tortillas, you can make a great dinner. Many, many delicious meals can be made with the right well-spiced tortilla filling recipe, couple of toppings, and cheese. If you have crema or guacamole, that will take it to a whole other level. It doesn’t matter if you’re craving crispy fajitas, saucy chilaquiles, or spicy enchiladas; they all start with a pack of corn or flour tortillas. These are eight of our favorite tortilla-based dinners.

Easy tortilla filling recipes

1. Steak fajitas

steak tortilla filling recipe
Steak fajitas

We like fajitas with steak and tangy slaw. If you’re looking for a vegetarian tortilla filling, they’re just as good with tofu. What sets fajitas apart is that you grill the meat or veggies and then everyone makes their own at the table. This activity is fun and kid-friendly.

2. Cheesy black bean and chicken enchiladas

enchilada tortilla filling recipe
Gloriously melty cheese

To make enchiladas, we wrap tortillas around our favorite tortilla filling recipe ( it can be anything from quinoa to chicken), pile the wraps in a casserole pan, and top with mole sauce or green sauce. After that, we place them in the oven to melt on some cheese. A warm pan of enchiladas is always a welcome dinner.

3. Chilaquiles with egg and avocado

chilaquiles with tortillas, filling, eggs, and avocado

Chilaquiles are a traditional Mexican breakfast dish based on crisp tortillas covered in sauce. Sometimes the tortillas stay crispy, but sometimes they sit in the sauce long enough to get a little soft. It’s the perfect balance of crunchy, creamy, tangy, and hearty.

4. Spiced chicken and squash tostadas

Just look a that crema

In a tostada, the tortilla filling is piled on top of crispy corn tortillas. The crunchy tortillas provide a delightful contrast to fillings like squash and chicken, black beans and pickled red onions, or chorizo

5. Tacos with spicy ground beef filling

tacos with spicy beef tortilla filling recipe

In their most simple form, tacos are really just tortillas folded around a filling. That’s all it takes to make a perfect meal sometimes. We use two tortillas to make our tacos durable and fill them up with chili-spiced fish, zucchini, or tempura squash and spicy mayo

6. Chicken and black bean burrito bowl

black bean and chicken burrito bowl

Ok, this isn’t technically a tortilla filling recipe; it’s more of a tortilla bedding recipe, but it’s delicious nonetheless. The burrito bowl is Tex-Mex, California-Mex, or fusion at its finest. It’s a simple, satisfying, and healthful dinner. If you’re not in the mood for chicken, this smoky pork burrito bowl is delicious, too.

7. Crispy smoked gouda quesadillas

cheese quesadillas with salad
This quesadilla got a makeover with smoked gouda

Quesadillas have it all. The tortilla is crispy, and the filling is perfectly gooey and warm. Best of all, you can put pretty much anything in them. Just sauté any meat and vegetables that you have in the fridge, tuck them in a tortilla with a generous amount of cheese, and griddle away. We love this version with smoky gouda.

8. A hot bowl of tortilla soup

tortilla soup

Tortilla soup is another killer Tex-Mex favorite, a brothy tomato soup topped with the clear highlight of the dinner: crispy tortilla strips.

 

Cozy Up with Leonelli Taberna’s Eggplant Parmesan

Blue Apron is teaming up with chefs across the country to support Feeding America®. To participate, head over to our social media channels. Share our Facebook post or tag a friend on Instagram, and Blue Apron will donate an additional $5 to Feeding America, up to $50,000. Thanks to Jonathan Benno for sharing Leonelli Taberna’s incomparable Eggplant Parmesan recipe. 

eggplant parmesan in a dish
Perfection with cheese on top

For Chef Jonathan Benno, the kitchen is a second home. He’s spent over three decades working in some of New York’s most prestigious restaurants, including Gramercy Tavern and Per Se. In 2018 he opened Leonelli Taberna, Leonelli Focacceria, and Benno, and got to work establishing his own prestige kitchen, defined by the classic flavors of Rome.  

Like all New York restaurants, Leonelli Taberna is closed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, that doesn’t mean that Benno has stopped feeding and caring for his community. Benno and the team at Leonelli have partnered with meals4heros to deliver hundreds of meals to healthcare workers at local NYC hospitals. 

With this eggplant parmesan recipe, home cooks can also enjoy a rustic, delicious Leonelli meal while staying safe at home. 

Leonelli Taberna’s Eggplant Parmesan

For the eggplant 

  • 2 Medium Italian eggplants
  • 1 Ball fresh mozzarella cut into 1/4″ slices, or pre-grated
  • 1/2 Bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, rinsed and chopped coarsely
  • 1 Small piece Parmigiano-Reggiano, or pre-grated
  • All-purpose flour for dusting the eggplant slices
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Tomato Sauce (recipe to follow)
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

For the tomato sauce

  • 1 28 oz. Can San Marzano tomatoes, passed through the food mill or food processor
  • 1/2 Red onion, minced
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Basil sprig
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

For the eggplant 

1. Rinse the eggplant under cold running water. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4″ thick slices.

2. Lightly season the slices on both sides with kosher salt and lay in a single layer on the rack for 30 minutes to draw out some of the moisture.

3. Place a 12” sauté pan over medium-low heat and warm enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Use paper towels to pat the moisture off of the eggplant slices. Dredge each slice in all-purpose flour to evenly coat, shaking off the excess. In a few separate batches, gently sauté the slices in a single layer. When they are a light golden brown on each side, remove the eggplant slices from the pan and lay them out to cool on the rack in a single layer. Reserve until assembly.

For the tomato sauce

1. Preheat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 4 qt. sauce pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic, season with a pinch of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Cook until the onions are slightly translucent, stirring occasionally. Increase the heat to medium and add the remaining ingredients. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and reduce the heat to low. Let the tomato sauce cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, then remove and season to taste. If you like, add another pinch of salt or pepper and a drop of red wine vinegar. Reserve the sauce until assembly.

For assembly

1. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of an 8″x 8″ baking dish.

2. Lay down one even layer of eggplant followed by another thin layer of tomato sauce and enough Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped parsley to evenly cover the tomato sauce.

3. Add another layer of eggplant, tomato sauce, the mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped parsley. Follow suit with 2 more layers. The top layer should be tomato sauce, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and chopped parsley evenly distributed from edge to edge and corner to corner.

To finish 

1. Bake in a 350°F degree oven for 30 minutes. The top should take on a light golden color. When the dish is finished baking, remove it from the oven and let it stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before attempting to portion and serve. The longer it sits, the more stable it will be when portioned. Tip: the leftovers make an excellent sandwich.

eggplant parm sandwich
Who among us could resist?

Hungry for more? Check out some of our other chef partnerships, like from restaurants like Gage & Tollner and Bell’s.

Ricotta Toast is A Restaurant-Worthy Snack

Some days, it takes a little treat to make it to 5 pm. For those occasions, Chef Jessica Goodman seeks out a good snack. If you’re feeling a little peckish, check out her recipe for whipped ricotta toast.

ricotta toast
Take a break, have some toast

Nothing creates a moment of zen in the middle of a chaotic afternoon like a well-composed snack. If the snack is easy to make, that’s even better. This dressed up toast would fit right in on a hip brunch menu, but it’s also easy to *whip* up in your home kitchen. 

Any flavor of jam works well here, just grab your favorite jar and go for it. If you don’t have a food processor, a blender will work. If you really feel like going the extra mile, you could make your own ricotta ahead of time. It’s a great way to use up milk that’s approaching its expiration date. 

Whipped Honey Ricotta Toasts:

  • 1 cup of ricotta 
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 piece sourdough bread
  • 1 tablespoon jam

1. Place the ricotta, honey, and salt into a food processor. Whip the ricotta until it forms a smooth consistency. Taste, and adjust seasoning as desired. 

Whipped ricotta, honey, and salt in a food processor showing the correct texture. This ricotta is ready to be spread on a piece of toast.
Whip until light and fluffy

2. Toast the slice of sourdough bread to your desired doneness. Layer on a thick swoop of the whipped ricotta, and a tablespoon of your jam. 

ricotta being spread onto sourdough toast
Don’t be shy, spoon on a generous portion

3. Enjoy, ideally while looking out of a window with a cup of tea.