8 Za’atar Recipes We Love

za'atar middle eastern spice blend
Za’atar (left) and Aleppo pepper (right)

What is za’atar? 

The term Za’atar refers to a family of herbs, including thyme, oregano and marjoram. It’s also a spice blend, and one of Blue Apron’s favorite ingredients. Recipes vary slight, but our house version of this Middle Eastern condiment is made from sumac, sesame seeds, salt, ground thyme, dried oregano and crushed Aleppo pepper. 

Traditionally sun-dried, za’atar is often eaten with pita or used as seasoning for various meats, vegetables and hummus. Recipes for this spice blend were once considered so precious that they were kept secret—even from family members.

Recipes we love

Za’atar is delicious on breads, meats, or roasted vegetables. Check out some of our favorite recipes below. 

Beef & Quinoa with Tzatziki, Tomatoes & Olives

beef spiced with za'atar
This shawarma-inspired beef dish can be made ahead of time for an easy dinner

Chicken Burgers & Oven Fries with Feta-Labneh Spread & Garlic Chips

burgers prepared with za'atar
These Middle Eastern-inspired burgers are deliciously tangy

Chicken & Farro Salad with Beet, Goat Cheese & Pistachios

za'atar dinner with chicken
An elegant take on a classic flavor combination: sweet beets and tangy goat cheese

Roasted Cauliflower & Tzatziki over Fregola Sarda Pasta

za'atar spiced cauliflower
This seared cauliflower steak makes a satisfying vegetarian dinner

Beef & Carrots with Zucchini Rice & Lemon Labneh

Lemony labneh keeps this dish bright and exciting

Beef over Spiced Rice with Lemon Labneh

za-atar beef and carrots
This dinner is full of vibrant spice and tender beef

Roasted Broccoli & Fregola Sarda with Hard-Boiled Eggs & Tahini Dressing

za'atar pasta
Crunchy almonds, tahini, and Pecorino make this vegetarian dinner super satisfying

Spiced Chicken with Pink Lemon Pan Sauce & Pearl Couscous

A simple pan sauce takes this recipe over the top

A Guide to Grocery Store Sausage

Hot Italian sausage and cavatelli
Hot Italian sausage and orecchiette

Sausage is a magical food. It exists in dozens of forms, across cultures, and is filled with a variety of spices. There are so many types and flavors that it becomes hard to define what exactly qualifies as sausage. It can be a link or a patty, smoked or dried, pork, beef, or even seafood. 

With all of these available options, it’s easy to descend into panic in the meat aisle when faced with a recipe that just calls for sausage. Consider this guide your helpful grocery store companion. It will teach you the difference between kielbasa and salami, and help you figure out what to toss on top of a pizza. 

Fresh

Plump in appearance and pale in color, these sausages are made of uncooked seasoned ground meat and spices. They’re packaged in casings, sometimes all linked together like cartoon sausages. There are usually several varieties of fresh sausage available at a supermarket, including hot Italian sausage, sweet Italian sausage, and breakfast sausage. These three types are all pork sausage, and are distinguished primarily by their spices. Generally, hot and sweet Italian sausage can be substituted for one another, but breakfast sausage is an entirely different flavor profile. It’s important to remember that these sausages are raw, so they require a longer cooking time than their pre-cooked counterparts (more on that below). Grill them whole and slice them up, or remove them from the casing while still raw, sauté the meat, and toss into soups or on a pizza.

browning loose sausage
Browning meat

Pre-cooked 

These often have a smooth, more uniform texture than fresh whole sausages. This texture comes from the meat itself, which has been finely processed or pureed before cooking. Examples include the beloved hot dog, bologna, and mortadella. Precooked sausages will be more opaque and firmer to the touch; if you can’t tell if a sausage has been precooked, read the label closely or ask a store employee, preferably someone working at the meat counter. Pre-cooked sausages are technically safe to eat right out of the package, but heating them will bring out their best flavors. They can be grilled, pan-fried, or boiled. The larger versions, like bologna, are a staple in deli and lunch meat counters, while the smaller options are popular with home cooks. Their short preparation time makes them an easy way to bulk up a weeknight dinner.  

Cured 

Cured sausages are salted and dried in cool conditions. Over time, the salt draws out the moisture and effectively “cooks” the meat, although heat is never applied. Salami, saucisson, sopressata, and pepperoni are all cured sausages. They’re perfect to slice up and serve on a charcuterie board, tuck into sandwiches, or even slice and toss into a hearty salad. Even though they don’t need to be cooked, applying heat to a cured sausage will render the fat, and give them a wonderfully crunchy texture. This transformation is what makes the crispy pepperoni on top of a pizza so delicious. 

Smoked 

For smoked sausages the meat is ground, packed, and hung to dry in a smoker or smokehouse where there is a low, cool fire. The meat is preserved by time, salt, and smoke, but not cooked by the heat of the fire. The smoke not only preserves the meat, but also flavors it; think of rich sweet kielbasa or smoky lap cheong. Smoked sausage also doesn’t need to be cooked, but warming it to room temperature or above will bring out its best flavors. Grilling it can add another dimension of charred flavor. Smoked sausages can be served on their own or sliced and added to other foods like soups or stews. These sausages are commonly found at deli counters.

smoked sausage
Mmm, smoky

Loose 

Just because it’s not in a casing, doesn’t mean it’s not a sausage. Basically, any flavored and ground meat qualifies. Loose sausage can be formed into patties and fried, or broken up and sautéed. This top-rated Blue Apron recipe uses loose hot Italian sausage to spice up a pasta dish for a satisfying weeknight dinner. 

Ground pork 

Ok, ground pork is technically not a sausage…yet. That being said, if you’re in a grocery store on the hunt for fresh sausage, ground pork would be a better substitution than something smoked or pre-cooked. Once you have the ground meat at home, you can spice it up yourself. Empty the meat into a large bowl, and assemble some spices. For a classic sweet Italian sausage try cracked black pepper, minced garlic, whole fennel seed, salt, and chopped parsley. Before you cook up the whole batch, place a quarter-sized amount in a frying pan. Flip once, make sure it’s cooked through, and then give it a taste. Not only is that the best way to check the seasoning of homemade sausage, it’s also a fun little treat for the chef.

Make Chicken Noodle Soup with Whatever You Have

Chef Lili Dagan never lets a missing ingredient slow her down. Here’s how she makes classic noodle chicken soup with whatever she has on hand.

Chicken noodle soup
A bowl of pure comfort

I’m a recipe riffer. Most of the time, I have every intention of cooking a recipe as written, but then I find I’m missing parsley, or there’s a bunch of carrots in the fridge about to go bad, or the crushing existential dread has generally derailed my original plans. All of a sudden, I’m riffing. It just happens.

Last week, I ordered a farm box from a local CSA, and I impulsively tacked whole chicken on to my order. Who doesn’t need a whole chicken? Like many these days, I’ve been craving classic comfort foods. When I saw thunder in the forecast, I decided chicken soup was the move. Luckily, the Blue Apron cookbook has a recipe that I love. 

Problems arose right away. The first step of this particular recipe is to poach your chicken in five quarts of chicken stock along with some aromatics and herbs. When I went to collect my ingredients, I realized that I didn’t have the leeks that the recipe called for. I did, however, have some huge scallions. I also only had three quarts of stock, and vegetable stock at that. I decided I could stretch it with some water. That’s how riffing starts.

I poached my chicken in the vegetable stock, along with the few sprigs of yellowing parsley and chives that I had on hand. To make up for my lackluster aromatics,  I added a pinch of Blue Apron Italian seasoning. While that simmered away, I prepped my soup vegetables: some carrots from my farm box, some almost-past-its-prime celery, and a rutabaga. I found half an onion leftover from making tortilla española, and tossed that in as well. It’s like freestyle jazz. 

After an hour of low simmering, I pulled out the chicken, let it cool, and picked the meat off the bones. I strained the broth through a mesh sieve, and added it back in the pot with the prepped vegetables. That all simmers for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are a pleasing texture. There’s room for interpretation here too, I like my vegetables to still have a little bite to them. Some members of my family, judging by the soup they serve as Passover, prefer their vegetables very soft. Do what feels good for you. A few minutes before the vegetables are done, add the chicken meat back in. 

For this meal, I cooked the noodles separately. I wasn’t planning on serving the soup all at once, and cooking the noodles separately extends their shelf life. 

This, my friends, is where I am going to give you the trick for the most delightful chicken noodle soup. Place the cooked noodles in the bottom of your soup bowl. While they are still hot, use a vegetable peeler to layer them with thick strips of parmesan cheese. This guarantees ribbons of cheese will swim through your soup like salty comet tails. It’s positively delightful.

chicken noodle soup with cheese
A cheesy chef tip

Top your noodles with your hot soup, whatever herbs you have leftover, and more cheese (if you want). Some hot sauce? You do you! Eat with whatever spoon sparks the most joy. For me, it’s a dumpling spoon. But if you don’t have one, riff it.

Classic Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken and Broth

  • 1 whole chicken (31⁄2 to 4 pounds)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 quarts chicken stock
  • 4 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 leeks, coarsely chopped and cleaned 
  • 3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small sprig rosemary
  • 6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 sprigs thyme

Soup

  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1⁄4-inch-thick rounds
  • 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 leeks, thinly sliced and cleaned 
  • 12 ounces dried egg noodles
  • 1⁄4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped dill

1. Temper the chicken. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season the inside and outside with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

2. Make the broth. In a large saucepan or soup pot, heat the stock to a simmer on high. Add the carrots, leeks, celery, garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, parsley, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, 6 to 7 minutes, until the vegetables are slightly softened. Add the chicken, breast side down, making sure that the chicken is mostly submerged in stock and resting on top of the vegetables. Heat until just simmering. Reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 55 to 65 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 180°F. Use tongs to carefully transfer the chicken to a large bowl to cool slightly.

3. Strain the broth and shred the chicken. Pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into another large pot; discard the vegetables. Season the broth with salt. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones. Remove and discard the skin. Use two forks or your fingers to shred the meat or use a knife to cut into bite-size pieces.

4. Cook the vegetables and noodles. Add the carrots, celery, and leeks to the soup and season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium at a simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the carrots are tender. Add the noodles and cook according to the time on the package until tender. 

5. Finish and serve the soup. Add the shredded chicken and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, until heated through and well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley and dill. Divide the soup between bowls. Serve with the bread, if desired.

Finished chicken noodle soup
Enjoy

 

Fried Chicken with Spicy Honey

The secret to our best fried chicken recipe is in the batter: the lactic acid in the buttermilk marinade tenderizes the meat, while the seasonings infuse it with flavor. Also, double dipping the chicken created a thicker, flakier crust — just be sure to dredge the chicken once you’re ready to fry, so it can go directly into the hot oil. We love this fried chicken warm, at room temperature, and even cold from the fridge the next day.

Fried Chicken with Spicy Honey

Serves: 6
Time: 2 hrs 30 mins + marinating time

Ingredients

3 cups buttermilk 
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder 
1 teaspoon mustard powder 
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
4 pounds dark meat chicken, drumsticks, and thighs 
About 4 quarts neutral oil (canola or vegetable)
⅓ cup honey
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
5 cups all-purpose flour  

Method

1. Marinate the chicken:
In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, mustard powder, cayenne pepper, 2 tablespoons of salt, and ½ teaspoon of black pepper. Add the chicken and toss to thoroughly coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 to 12 hours (or up to overnight) to marinate. 

2. Make the spicy honey: 
In a bowl, combine the honey and as much of the red pepper flakes as you’d like

3. Coat the chicken:
Set a wire rack on a large sheet pan. One hour before cooking, remove the marinated chicken from the refrigerator to bring to room temperature. Reserving the buttermilk marinade, transfer the chicken pieces to a plate (letting any excess marinade drip off).  In a large bowl, combine the flour, 1 ½ teaspoons of salt, and ⅛ teaspoon of black pepper; evenly divide between 2 bowls. In a large, heavy pot, heat 3 inches of oil on medium heat until it reaches 350°F degrees. Once the oil is ready for frying, working 1 piece at a time, return the chicken to the bowl of reserved buttermilk to coat (letting the excess drip off). Transfer to one of the bowls of seasoned flour and toss to thoroughly coat. Return to the buttermilk, then back to the other bowl of flour. 

4. Fry the chicken:
Working in batches, immediately add the coated chicken to the hot oil. Cook, turning often, 9 to 14 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest piece of the chicken should register 175°F). Transfer the chicken to the prepared wire rack; immediately season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature with the spicy honey. 

Chef’s Tips
— Make sure to return the oil to 350°F between batches. Be sure not to overcrowd the pot, as the temperature of the oil will drop with each addition.
— Separate the chicken into small batches of thighs and drumsticks. Frying the same cuts at the same time ensures they finish at the same time.
— Don’t be afraid of the craggly bits or extra coating sticking to the chicken after it’s coated. No need to “tap off any excess” here!
— Seasoning immediately after frying. Salt absorbs better with hot oil.   

Simple Roast Chicken

There are thousands of decisions to make when roasting a chicken — baste? butter? brine? high temp? low and slow? spatchcock? truss? — and we’ve made them all, over and over, in the hunt for the perfect recipe. Perhaps unsurprisingly, our favorite follows a very simple formula, combining high heat, a well-tempered and trussed bird, generous resting time, and just olive oil, salt, and pepper for flavor. We think you’ll love it as much as we do — and hopefully appreciate that we made all the hard choices for you.

Simple Roast Chicken

Serves: 4
Time: 2 hr 50 minutes

Ingredients

1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

Method

1. Prepare the chicken:
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels inside and out. Season with 1 tablespoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Use butcher’s twine to truss the chicken. Transfer to a wire rack set on a sheet pan and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. While the chicken is tempering, place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 475°F.

2. Roast the chicken & serve your dish:
Rub 1 tablespoon of olive oil all over the chicken. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and a generous amount of pepper. Roast for 65 to 70 minutes, or until well-browned and the juices run clear when the skin is pierced between the thigh and leg (an instant read thermometer inserted into the thigh, without touching the bone, should read 165°F). Remove from the oven. Let the chicken rest for 35 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish or, if desired, a cutting board to carve before serving. Enjoy!

8 Recipes That Celebrate & Send Off Summer

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Say a final farewell to summer with eight unforgettable recipes starring the warm-weather season’s best and brightest ingredients!  

1. Saffron & Tomato Bucatini Pasta

This sophisticated pasta dish celebrates the bright flavors of summer with a robust sauce of charm tomatoes and sautéed summer squash.

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2. Cherry Tomato & Peach Panzanella

Tuscan panzanella salads are defined by the easy combination of ripe summer tomatoes and rustic bread, elevated with a bit of oil and vinegar to some of the season’s best eating.

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3. Tomato, Watermelon & Farro Salad

In this dish, we’re serving it atop a delicious summer salad of juicy watermelon, tart tomato and hearty farro, flecked with fresh mint and basil.

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4. Tomato-Basil Burgers

In this unique spin on the classic burger, we’re serving succulent beef patties nestled between tart tomato slices on one side, and fresh basil leaves and creamy aioli on the other.

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5. Shrimp, Potato & Corn “Boil”

In coastal regions of the South, the seafood boil is a treasured culinary tradition—often enjoyed al fresco at celebrations.

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6. Miso Chicken Ramen

For a summery take on a Japanese favorite—ramen—we’re preparing a brothless version with plenty of colorful seasonal produce.

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7. Avocado Burgers

These burgers celebrate Tex-Mex cuisine, known for weaving together Mexican and American ingredients into hearty dishes.

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8. Corn & Green Bean Empanadas

“Empanadas de humita,” or corn empanadas, are a tasty South American specialty that features flaky pastry dough wrapped around a savory-sweet corn filling.

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Our New Obsession: Knockwurst

If you live in the U.S. (or anywhere else on the planet), you’re probably familiar with the hot dog, also known as the frankfurter—a nod to the city of Frankfurt, Germany, likely where its prototype was born. But you may not have heard of the hot dog’s delicious cousin: knockwurst.

Allow us to introduce you. Knockwurst is one of more than 1,000 varieties of sausage attributed to Germany, a country famous for its wurst. According to historians, since the colder climate yielded less to eat during certain seasons, sausage-making emerged as a way to preserve meat—and to get the most out of the animals that provided it.

So, what sets knockwurst apart from hot dogs (and bratwurst, and weisswurst, and bockwurst)? For answers to a few of our more pressing questions about the sausage, we turned to Kurt Gutenbrunner, world-renowned Austrian chef and restaurateur and expert in central European cuisine.

Knockwurst_Blog

Q: What makes knockwurst special?

A: Knockwurst is short, stout, and loaded with flavorful seasonings. “Every butcher has a special mix that he’s proud of,” says Chef Gutenbrunner. “Some use more nutmeg, or more coriander, or more caraway seeds…” For our upcoming recipe on the week of May 15, Blue Apron’s knockwurst is made with eight different seasonings—and grass-fed, pasture-raised, antibiotic-free beef, in a natural pork casing.

Q: How do you eat knockwurst?

A: It can be eaten as finger food at parties, or with a piece of good bread and a condiment or two. Then there are more elaborate preparations. According to Chef Gutenbrunner, “in the summer, you can use it in wurstsalat”—literally “sausage salad.” (Yes, this is a thing.) “Sliced and mixed with red onions, peppers, apples, vinegar, and chives, it’s fantastic.”

Q: Where does knockwurst come from?

A: “Like any wurst, knockwurst has a long history,” Chef Gutenbrunner explains. Germans have been making the sausage for centuries. In fact, before it even entered the mainstream in its native country, knockwurst was considered a delicacy among royalty.

Q: Where is knockwurst most popular?

A: While knockwurst is most popular in Germany, the sausage is also woven into the cuisines of its neighbors, like Alsace (a region in France) and Austria. “I grew up with knockwurst in Austria. We loved it and ate it all the time,” Chef Gutenbrunner recalls fondly.

Q: How did knockwurst get its name?

A: In German, it’s spelled “knackwurst,” which comes from “knacken” (meaning “to snap or crack”)—a reference to the unbeatable snap of the casing when you take a bite. “The texture alone is wonderful,” says Chef Gutenbrunner. “You can even just warm up some knockwurst and enjoy that snap with a spicy or sweet mustard.”

Q: Anything else?

A: Chef Gutenbrunner wants you to know that when it comes to making knockwurst or any sausage, the key is quality meat. “It matters what you put into the casing,” he says. “It matters what we eat, what animal it came from, how that animal was raised.”

Find our knockwurst in boxes, for the first time, in “Beef Knockwurst & Sauerkraut with Potato Salad & Whole Grain Mustard.”

 

You Texans May Not Call It Chili, But a Bowl of This Is Really Good


Texans, turn away! These days, the definition of chili has passed far beyond a cowboy bowl of Texas red. In what many count as the original chili, there are no tomatoes! no beans! and no vegetables! Nope, if you want to impress a Lone Star State native, look no further than dried chilies, chopped meat, and garlic–that’s all that’s necessary for their bowl o’ meat.

But if you want to make a hearty, healthy stew for dinner, perhaps topped by rice or served beside cornbread, then look no further than an updated chili recipe, one that’s filled with nutritious ingredients like ground turkey, white beans and teff, or black beans and green peppers, smothered in tomato sauce and spiced with a generous hand.

May we remind you to garnish your chili with at least a few of the following: chopped avocado, grated cheddar, cilantro sprigs, and lime wedges?

Here are three ways we love to eat chili:

Turkey Chili

A classic rendition of chili con carne, this turkey-based chili features poblano peppers, ground cumin and coriander, and kidney beans.  Why? Well, in addition to the Texas style of chili, there are two other kinds, Springfield, and Cincinnati, and since we love all three versions, we adopted elements from each to make this awesome bowl.

White Bean & Escarole Chili

You were waiting for us to take chili to a crazy level of fusion, and in this hearty vegetarian version, we really did. First off, we added Egyptian teff, a tiny grain high in calcium and protein. Then we went and added plenty of chopped escarole, a green that grows creamy when cooked. And, finally, there are white beans, which are often found in green New Mexico-style chili.

Mushroom Chili

King Trumpet mushrooms, also called King Oyster, are the largest mushroom in the oyster mushroom species, and they’re the unique twist in this saucy vegetarian recipe. They deliver a burst of umami flavor and add heartiness to the chili. To add more flavor to the cornbread we serve beside the stew, we stirred in sautéed jalapeno peppers and cheddar cheese.

5 Main Course Salads for Post-Holiday Healthy Eating

While holiday eating is about indulgence, Thanksgiving dinner isn’t the only meal you’ll be eating this week, we hope. In your moments of free time between pie ingestion, you might give some thought to lighter meals, meals that won’t sit quite as heavy as turkey and stuffing, meals after which you might be able to take a walk or play a sport.

We’re talking here about salads. But these are not bare little side salads dressed with a drizzle vinegar and nothing else. We may be eating a bit more thoughtfully before and after a holiday meal, but we’re still eating!

So, let lettuce (or kale) be your base, and from there, let’s build out delicious, satisfying salads that nonetheless keep it light. Here are five favorites:

Kale Caesar Salad


Kale: trendy, as well as delicious, nutritious, and more filling than you’d expect. This salad really hits it out of the park with toppings like hazelnuts and soft-boiled eggs.

Roasted Carrot Salad with Candied Almonds, Fresh Figs, and Ricotta Salata

This one basically provides a formula for making sandwiches good. In other words, if you put in fruit, candied nuts, and cheese, we will always eat our greens.

Chopped Napa Cabbage Salad

Mild, sweet Napa cabbage is an incredible base for this salad that boldly pairs Asian pears with sweet potatoes and walnuts with blue cheese and ginger. Yum!

Snow Pea & Sweet Potato

This guy relies less on lettuce than a giant and delicious hodgepodge of vegetables. Because everything gets doused in homemade pesto, you can also throw in any Thanksgiving leftovers, if that’s your jam.

Chipotle Steak Salad


Chipotle is one of those ingredients that makes everything ten times better. Steak does that too. Together, they make this salad ridiculously good.