Essential Middle Eastern Spices & How To Use Them

middle eastern recipe ingredients

Hummus and falafel are practically part of our standard American culinary vocabulary these days, and it’s no surprise why: Middle Eastern food is delicious. These aren’t just foods that you can order at restaurants or pick up at the store for a late-night snack; Middle Eastern recipes are easy to make at home, as long as you have the right ingredients.

While there are many ingredients that make up the Middle Eastern kitchen, here are a dozen to start with and a few ideas of what to do with them.

Ingredients for Middle Eastern recipes

1. Yogurt

Yogurt has been a popular food in the Middle East for thousands of years and is commonly mixed into a sauce to serve with meats or as a side dish. It’s often blended with cilantro, cucumbers and even dill. Traditionally yogurt used in Middle Eastern cooking is thick in consistency. Recipes also often call for labneh, a soft, spreadable cheese made from yogurt. If you don’t have labneh, the easiest way to obtain a thicker consistency is to strain your yogurt through a cheesecloth for a few hours in the refrigerator. Try these Lamb Kofte Kebabs with a Cucumber Yogurt Sauce.

2. Za’atar

Za’atar is a popular spice blend used in Middle Eastern recipes. The name means “wild thyme.” There are many variations of this spice blend depending on the region. The base of the blend is typically made from crushed dried thyme or oregano, accompanied by sesame seeds and sumac. Za’atar is used as a table condiment that can be sprinkle it on meats, vegetables, or anything else you feel needs some flavor. We love it sprinkled atop a simple flatbread.

3. Sumac

The dark brick red hue of powdered, dry sumac brings color to any meal, and the spice is an essential ingredient in fattoush salad, za’atar, and tabbouleh. Rarely used in Western cooking, it abounds in the Middle East, particularly Lebanon. Its tart, fruity flavor adds a pop of bright acidity to any dish. If you can’t find sumac, a squeeze of lemon is a good substitute.

4. Olive oil

Olive oil is also a cornerstone of Middle Eastern cooking. At its most basic, it’s drizzled over dishes as a condiment. With the many health benefits of olive oil, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be adding it to more of your cooking.

5. Sesame Seeds/Tahini

Appetizer favorites hummus and baba ganoush have one thing in common: tahini. This paste is made from ground, hulled sesame seeds. You can make it yourself by grinding sesame seeds and a little bit of oil in a food processor. You can use tahini in non-traditional Middle Eastern dishes like in this easy dinner of Tahini Green Beans & Red Cabbage or this vegan tahini ice cream. Sesame seeds themselves are also common in Middle Eastern cooking, particularly in sweet pastries like sesame seed cookies.

6. Pomegranate molasses

Cultivated since ancient times, the pomegranate has its roots in Iran. You’ll find a variety of pomegranate dishes across the Middle East, from street-side juice stands in Afghanistan, to the sweet molasses available in many markets across the region. Pomegranate molasses is used dressing for fattoush salad, a base for Persian Khoresh Fesenjan, and as a marinade for lamb kaftes. Pomegranate molasses is key anytime you want to add a sweet-and-sour element to a dish.

7. Lemon

Lemons have long been a staple of Middle Eastern recipes. Salty preserved lemons are a common addition to dishes. You can also make a delicious quick version of preserved lemons at home.

8. Couscous

Couscous can refer to the ingredient, a coarsely ground pasta made from semolina, or the dish, a staple of Berber cuisine in North African Maghreb. There’s also Israeli Couscous, which is also made from semolina, but takes a larger, pearl form. Pair it with lamb sausage for a hearty dinner.

9. Bulgur

Made from dried, cracked whole wheat, bulgur is a good base for pilafs and salads, like the classic tabbouleh. It cooks up quickly, simply by soaking it in hot water. You can use it in place of rice or couscous in practically any dish. It’s especially yummy mixed up with ground meat in a popular dish called kibbeh.

10. Mint

You’ll find fresh mint used in everything from tea to sauces in Middle Eastern cuisine, which is no surprise since the herb is thought to have originated in Asia and the Mediterranean region. You can chop it up and throw on a salad, make a yogurt sauce, or use it to steep a simple mint tea.

11. Saffron

The delicate red threads of saffron provide flavor to numerous Middle Eastern dishes, from delicious Persian rice with almonds and raisins to roasted lamb. You’ll know a saffron dish when you see it—the spice gives rice and grains a beautiful golden hue. Try it in a Saffron Bulgur Pilaf.

12. Feta

Tangy, creamy feta is a delicious addition to many Middle Eastern meals. Feta fresh cheese, like mozzarella, but blocks of fresh feta are brined, giving the cheese its characteristic tanginess. Depending on the country, feta can be made from sheep’s, goat’s, cow’s milk, or a combination. If you prefer less tanginess, soak the feta in water or milk for 30 minutes before serving.

Also check out: The Essential Spices of India

This post was written by Anna Brones, a food and travel writer based in Paris, France who has a love for bikes, coffee and all things organic.

3 Ways to Improve your Pantry Pasta

A pantry pasta is always there for you. Even if you don’t particularly feel like cooking, you can make a satisfying dinner with a few basic ingredients on hand.

The formula is simple. Our favorite pantry pastas start with noodles, whatever alliums you have around (garlic, onions, and shallots are all invited to the party), and pretty much any green vegetable. Start with a little olive oil, salt, and red pepper flakes, and you’ve got an easy dinner ready to go. 

When we feel like transforming this dish into something special, we like to add a fun topping. These toppings bring in more texture and flavor. They can turn a humble weeknight dinner into a rustic main that could happily grace the table at a dinner party. 

pantry pasta with breadcrumbs
A simple pasta topped with breadcrumbs

The best part is, the fun doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve learned how to make these toppings you can use them to add flavor and oomph to salads, steaks, and roasted vegetables. Watch the video to see chef Lili Dagan demonstrate how it’s done, and find the topping recipes below. 

Three ways to take your pantry pasta to the next level 

Toasted breadcrumbs 

Garlicky breadcrumbs will add a spicy crunch to pasta, roasted cauliflower, or salads. Follow step three in the recipe above to learn how to make this simple topping at home. You can make this at home with flaky Panko breadcrumbs, or make your own bread crumbs by throwing some stale bread in the food processor. 

Fried herbs 

Fried herbs, nuts, and brown butter instantly bring rich fall flavors and a pleasant crunch to any dish. These topping pairs beautifully with pasta, but would also turn roasted squash into a stunning side. Our recipe starts with fried sage, but you could substitute sage for another hearty herb, like rosemary or thyme. 

Lemon caper compound butter

Compound butter can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer. If you already have a batch chilled, adding it to pasta is as simple as slicing off a piece, melting it in a pan, and then tossing noodles to coat. If you don’t, you can mix up a batch as you’re making dinner, and then save the rest for your next steak dinner. Adding this lemon caper butter to noodles adds a silky text and a bright pop of lemon caper flavor. 

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3 Tips for Maintaining Your Cast Iron Skillet

Perhaps no piece of cookware is more iconic—or dependable—than the cast iron pan. This tried-and-true workhorse is beloved for its durability and versatility; you can fry, grill, sauté, braise or bake in it. Best of all, with proper care, cast iron actually improves with use. Below, we break down how to maintain it.

How to clean a cast iron skillet

After use, wipe your skillet clean, then rinse under hot running water. Scrub off stuck-on debris with salt and a damp towel. Contrary to popular belief, it’s fine to use a little soap on a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. The seasoning on a cast iron pan is polymerized oil, which won’t be broken down by a few suds.

Should you dry a cast iron skillet?

Yes. Immediately and thoroughly dry your pan with a towel. Leaving the pan damp or leaving it in water in it can lead to rusting.

*If your pan rusts, not all is lost! To bring a rusted pan back to life, bake at 450ºF for about an hour, then remove from the oven and carefully rub with oil and a paper towel to loosen and wipe out the rust. Scrub out any remaining rust with salt, then rinse, dry and carefully rub with an oiled paper towel.

How to season a cast iron pan

Use a paper towel to evenly coat the inside of the pan with a small amount of vegetable or canola oil. Use enough oil to give the inside of the pan a nice sheen, but not so much that it feels sticky. Heat the pan gently in the oven or over the stove top, just until is starts to lightly smoke. Let it cool, and put it away until next time.

If you won’t be using your cast iron pan for a while, it’s important to heat the pan to help the oil form a protective seal with the iron. Place the pan on the stovetop and heat on high for a few minutes, until hot and the oil starts to smoke lightly. Remove from heat; when cool enough to handle, carefully wipe out the pan with a dry rag. Let cool completely before storing.

Pick up a cast iron pan of your very own at the Blue Apron Marketplace.

Spicy Seasonings & Ingredients: Your (Very) Hot Guide

Spicy foods

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

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

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

spicy sauces

Pepper sauces

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


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

Red chili paste

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


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


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

Spicy Brassicaceae

Spicy Brassicaceae

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peppercorns & chilies

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

Dried Thai Chilies

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


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


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

Red Chili Flakes

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

Szechuan Peppercorns

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


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

Aleppo Pepper

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

How to Cook with Cream

how to cook with cream

Fat is a great way to add heft, flavor, and satisfaction to our food. Yes, fat! Don’t run away. For years, fat has been a threatening ingredient, one that people avoid. But, as any chef knows, meals get a lot of their flavor from fat. Imagine quesadillas without cheese or pad Thai without peanuts; these are not pretty thoughts. We’re on a mission to show you how to fearlessly use fat in your cooking. Today’s focus us how to cook with cream.

Cream can be a luxurious addition to dinner. If you pour your cream judiciously, you’ll wind up with a rich and flavorful dish that’s still fresh and bright. Though there are a few types of cream to use, today we’re focusing on heavy cream, with a spoonful of sour cream on top.

A Guide to Cooking with Cream

Creamy Salad Dressing

For most vinaigrettes, we drizzle olive oil into vinegar, or a mix of vinegar, mustard, and garlic. But oil doesn’t have to be the only fat used here. You can substitute cream for some of the oil in a vinaigrette to wind up with a more decadent drizzle for your greens. The dressing on our Crispy Chicken Chopped Salad uses buttermilk, but you could substitute cream to an even more delicious effect.

Creamy Sauces

Creamy pasta sauces are some of the best sauces out there. (No offense to tomato sauces.) One of our all-time favorites is pasta primavera. After sautéing some vegetables, we simply pour in heavy cream. On the heat, the cream reduces into a sauce in just a few minutes. Once you add fresh pasta to the skillet, you’ll find that the sauce coats each strand of spaghetti beautifully. But you don’t need the pasta. Cream also turns chicken, fennel, and tomatoes into a lusciously creamy dish of Chicken with Tomato, Fennel & Creamy Tarragon Sauce.

Creamy Soups

Much as in creamy pasta sauces, creamy soups need just a dash or two of cream to both thicken and enrich the broth. In our Corn & Vegetable Chowder, cream turns a sauté of corn and radishes into a bonafide, and yummy, soup. This is a place where you can add as little or as much cream as you’d like–it’s up to you how rich you’d like your soup to be.

Creamy Garnish

how to garnish with sour cream
Don’t skimp on the sour cream

When using cream for garnish, the best–and most obvious option–is sour cream. That’s what we turn to for our fajitas, as well as for dishes like Mushroom Stroganoff that can use a bright and creamy topping. And hey–for dessert, there’s always whipped cream, too.

Now that you know how to cook with cream, try our guides for cooking with nuts, butter, cheese, and oils.

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

Canned Tuna Is the Star of This Pantry-friendly Dinner

Chef Jessica Halper is staying home, but she’s still committed to eating well. Here’s how she’s making the most of her limited runs to the grocery store.

Canned tuna, artichokes, and white beans
Canned tuna, artichokes, and white beans

These days, my trips to the grocery store are few and far between. While that’s ultimately the best thing for everyone’s health, it can make it difficult to maintain a nutritious and diverse diet. Grabbing a box of mac and cheese or a frozen pizza to fill my stomach and comfort my soul has never been so tempting. While these options are both consoling and accessible, they likely do not provide the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals to keep our bodies in fighting shape.

Cooking with canned goods can be an inexpensive and pandemic proof method for maintaining a nutritious diet when fresh produce is unavailable. This bright and healthy recipe utilizes two of my favorite canned products: beans and tuna. The canned tuna provides a daily dose of lean protein rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and the beans are packed with fiber, which makes for a happy and healthy gut (and a vocal one too!). Artichoke hearts are also an excellent source of fiber and antioxidants, even in their canned state.

Quick note: When buying canned goods, choose options that are low in sodium or have  no salt added. If you aren’t sure, give the ingredient a quick rinse before using.

Tuscan-style White Bean Salad with Canned Tuna, Artichokes, and Shallot Vinaigrette

Serves 2

  • 1 15 oz can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 4 oz can of tuna, packed in olive oil or water, drained
  • ¼ cup canned artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced on a bias
  • 2 teaspoons capers, drained
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 oz greens (arugula, spinach, mixed greens, etc) (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, combine the drained beans, chopped artichoke hearts, drained tuna, capers, celery and mixed greens (if using). 
  2. Combine the chopped shallot, vinegar, mustard and olive oil in a jar. Shake the jar until the vinaigrette has emulsified. Taste, then season with salt and pepper, if desired.
  3. Add half the vinaigrette to the salad; season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Add the remaining vinaigrette if desired or store in the refrigerator covered for up to one week. Enjoy!

Looking for more canned tuna ideas? Try these cream of mushroom tuna croquettes.

Two Bean Soup Recipes to Refresh Your Pantry Routine

When Chef Alex Saggiomo found himself with an excess of beans, he turned to Nancy Silverton. Her book A Twist of the Wrist is full of recipes that can be executed with mostly pantry staples. There, he found two recipes for bean soup: one Italian, one southwestern. Between the two, you’ll find the perfect beans for any occasion.

Black bean soup recipe with avocado relish
Black bean soup with avocado relish

These recipes use canned beans, which means they come together quickly. From shelf to bowl, each soup takes about 20 minutes. While there are some fresh elements, the bulk of both soups can be made with pantry staples. Just think of the fresh ingredients as optional added flair. 

Tuscan Bean Soup

yields 4 servings 

  • 4 15-ounce cans creamy beans (great northern beans, cannellini, giant white beans)
  • 6 garlic cloves, grated
  • 3 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves
  • 4 large basil leaves
  • 2 cups Napa cabbage, shredded
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Olive oil (optional)
  • Prosciutto slices (optional)

1. In a large pot, combine the beans (and their liquid), garlic, salt, thyme, basil, and 2 cups of water; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes, or until the flavors meld. 

2. Remove 1 1/2 cups of beans from the soup; set aside. Using an immersion blender, food processor, or blender, puree until smooth. 

3.Add the reserved beans and shredded cabbage to the soup; cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes, or until the cabbage is slightly wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Divide the soup evenly among four bowls. Top each with 1TB of Parmesan cheese. If using, add a drizzle of olive oil and a slice of prosciutto.

Finish with prosciutto and a little olive oil
Finish with prosciutto and a little olive oil

Spicy Black Bean Soup

yields 4 servings

  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped 
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 4 15-ounce cans black beans
  • 1 cup green chile salsa
  • 2TB cilantro leaves
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, ripe
  • Sour cream (optional)
  • Hot sauce (optional)

1. In a large pot, heat 3TB of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant. 

2. Add the beans (and their liquid); season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat; once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Add the salsa; stir to combine. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Using an immersion blender, food processor, or blender, puree until smooth. 

4. In a small bowl, combine the cilantro, lime zest and juice, scallion, and avocado; season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the soup evenly among four bowls. Top with the relish, and drizzle with sour cream and hot sauce if using. Enjoy!

Thank you to Nancy Silverton

In the mood for dessert? Try this sweet and savory shortbread recipe.

A Shakshuka Recipe to Use up Whatever Is in Your Fridge

Shakshuka recipe in the sun
Savory egg and tomato shakshuka

What are we cooking while we’re staying home? Today, Chef Kristen Merris-Huffman found a shakshuka recipe that can work with whatever produce you have on hand.

Shakshuka is one of the most comforting, versatile dishes out there. This recipe always sparks excitement and lifts me out of my usual cooking routine. Shakshuka can be served for breakfast, lunch, or even dinner. If you need to serve a larger group, you can easily bulk it up by adding another can of tomatoes and more eggs. It’s also a one-pan wonder, so in my eyes, it’s perfect.

This particular recipe is meant to be incredibly versatile. If you don’t have all the listed ingredients, don’t worry! This is just what I happened to have on hand. If you don’t have a red bell pepper, now is the time to reach into the back corner of your produce drawer to use that zucchini you bought in desperation last week. Diced eggplant, or even a few cremini mushrooms, would be nice additions in place of the cherry tomatoes. 

Shakshuka recipe ingredients
Peppers, onions, garlic, and tomatoes

Same goes for the spices. Feel free to experiment with cinnamon or a little cayenne instead of smoked paprika. Now is the time to be resourceful and to use up whatever you have.

Simple Shakshuka Recipe

Adapted from the New York Times
  • Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can of whole or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 can of tomatoes, lightly crushed
  • 4 eggs
  • Optional garnishes: 
  • ¼ cup feta, crumbled
  • Parsley, finely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and bell pepper (or any vegetable that needs to be cooked), and cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and cook until they begin to soften.
  2. Add garlic and warming spices to the pan of sautéed vegetables allowing the aromatics to cook for 2-3 minutes until they become fragrant. Pour in the can of tomatoes. If you’re using whole tomatoes, crush them gently with the back of a spoon. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until the sauce thickens. 
  3. Using the back of a spoon, create four wells in the sauce and crack an eggs directly into each well. Top with cheese and place in the oven for 7-10 minutes until the eggs are just set and the yolks are still runny. 
  4. Serve with tortillas, a hunk of bread, or toasted pitas for dipping and scooping.
shakshuka with tortillas
Serve with tortillas

In the mood for dessert? Try this sweet and savory shortbread recipe.

Four Tips for Easy Work From Home Lunches

Working from home can be unpredictable. Sometimes there’s a lull in the middle of the day, and you find the time to take a break and make something special. Other days, things are so busy that you can only grab a minute to eat a few spoonfuls of peanut butter before you jump back online. No matter what type of day you’re having, a good work from home lunch is important for keeping you alert and happy all afternoon. 

Here’s how the team at Blue Apron makes work from home lunch a treat, even on those rushed days. 

Switch things up

I was getting tired of eating the same turkey sandwich for lunch so I decided to deconstruct it into a salad. You can do this with whatever produce you have at home, just top it off with  a simple vinaigrette. I also sprinkled some dill on top, as it was about to go bad in my fridge. Chef tip: fresh herbs are a great way to add lots of flavor to a salad! — Chef Sarah Entwistle

Turkey sandwich salad for work from home lunch
Turkey sandwich, but make it a salad

Reinvent your leftovers

This week I made a salad with chopped romaine, sesame seeds, lightly sautéed snow peas, and a tahini-ponzu dressing. I had some leftover chicken from dinner, and I tossed that on top for extra protein. I also sautéed the snow peas for 1-2 minutes, just to make them a bit more tender. — Chef Ashley Giddens

Give yesterday’s noodles new life

When you’re reheating pasta, drizzle a little water into the bowl (I use my fingertips to kind of “spray” water) before microwaving, it gives the noodles new life. Sometimes I’ll even make a little extra sauce on the side so that when I reheat and stir it together they’re still nice and coated with sauce. — Chef Emily Ziemski

Peanut noodles with tofu for work from home lunch
Crispy tofu & spicy peanut sauce with marinated carrots

Work in advance 

You can make a big batch of pancake batter ahead of time. The longer the batter sits, the more it “ferments” and builds flavor. Pancakes for lunch? Yes! In these weird WFH times, don’t be afraid of treating yourself to comfort foods. — Chef Emily Ziemski

Pancakes for work from home lunch
Pancakes for lunch? Why not!

Cream of Mushroom Tuna Croquettes Are a Pantry-Friendly Throwback

The responsible thing to do right now is to stay put, so that’s what the Blue Apron Test Kitchen is doing. Just because we’re cooped up at home, that doesn’t mean we’re not cooking. For now, you’ll find us in our home kitchens, chopping, frying, and baking up a storm. 

This week, Chef Jessica Halper pulled out her Bubby’s cookbook and found a surprising pantry recipe:

Yes — you read that title correctly. In an effort to get the best “bang for my buck” and maintain sanity during these trying times, I am cooking through my Bubby’s recipe collection. The recipes skew Eastern European (no surprise there). They’re inexpensive, comforting, and utilize lots of canned goods — great for a cold winter’s night, and great for a pandemic. The ingredients showcase pantry staples, which can typically be found hiding in my cupboards or on the back shelf of any bodega. While the fresh aromatics and herbs add a bright touch, they can always be substituted for their dried counterparts.

pantry recipe staples
A pantry party

This daring recipe comes from her 1968 B’nai Brith Cookbook, and supposedly includes “family favorites” like gefilte fish, potato kugel, Chinese stew, and “Norene’s famous cheesecake”  —who’s Norene? I’ve updated the ingredient list to be a touch more modern, but rest assured, the recipe still uses a can of cream of mushroom soup.

cream of mushroom soup
A pantry classic in all its glory

So how did this vintage delight hold up in modern times? While we’re only a party of two, and we’re currently confined to the couch, our reviews were full of surprise and delight. The finished croquettes were pleasingly refined, delightfully weird and, best of all, pantry proof. As my boyfriend succinctly put it: “Hmm – this is actually really good.” 

Cream of Mushroom Tuna Croquettes

With pickle chive mayo

Makes 5 croquettes 

  • 1 5-oz can of tuna, drained
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced separating the white bottoms from the green tops
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¼ can of cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • ¼ cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon of cornichons or other pickled items, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of chives, thinly sliced (optional) 

In a large bowl, combine the tuna, white scallion bottoms, ½ cup breadcrumbs, egg, soup and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Mix to thoroughly combine and form into 5 evenly shaped patties. Coat in the remaining breadcrumbs.

pantry recipe: pickle chive mayo
Pickle chive mayo

In a medium pan (nonstick if you have one), heat the canola oil until a breadcrumb sizzles on contact. Add the patties and cook, 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. After they’re done, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and generously sprinkle with salt. 

While the patties cook, combine the mayonnaise, chopped pickles, the remaining lemon juice and the sliced chives if using. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Serve the croquettes alongside the pickle chive mayo. Garnish with the green scallion tops, or simply dig in.

Fried and ready to eat

5 Ways Spring Herbs Make Dinner Great

Even as we wait for the ground to yield all of spring’s best product, we’re able to stay patient by making the most of bright, springy herbs in our April dinners. Look and see what our five springy picks can do for your risotto, your pasta, and your chicken.

1. Chives.

in Baby Artichoke Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms, Mustard Greens & Goat Cheese

2. Parsley.

in Roasted Chicken with Jalapeño-Herb Salsa, Mixed Citrus & Cracked Wheat Berries

3. Mint.

in Spring Herb & Vegetable Lo Mein

4. Cilantro.

in Pork Larb

5. Basil.


in Whole Wheat Spaghetti & Zucchini with Pistachio-Spinach Pesto