When an afternoon snack craving hits, creamy avocado dip will pick up your energy and lift your spirits right away.
Avocado delivers the kind of creamy satisfaction that normally only comes from foods that are a little bit less healthful than this popular, irresistible fruit.
This isn’t guacamole. We’ve created a creamier dip by switching up the texture with some added sour cream. A generous addition of chopped cilantro adds even more bright green flavor, and a little bit of minced pepper keeps everything perky. Pack up a serving and add it to your lunchbox or keep the ingredients in the fridge and mash up some dip for an after-work snack.
With a little luck, you might be able to find fresh chickpeas or garbanzo beans at a local farmers market in the summer. These green peas inside their fuzzy pods might look pretty different from the canned variety available at most supermarkets, but they’re just the raw, fresh version. Keep reading to learn the difference between raw, fresh, and canned chickpeas.
Garbanzo Beans & Chickpeas
Chickpeas are widely available in cans, dried, or—of course— blended into hummus. All of these products start as fresh chickpeas on a vine.
Chickpeas—or as they are sometimes known, garbanzo beans—were first domesticated almost 7,000 years ago in Western Asia. Today, they are grown almost everywhere in the world. The earliest hummus recipe we have is from the 13th century, but it’s a good bet people were eating some version of mashed up chickpeas long before then.
Chickpeas are a staple of many global cuisines. They’re the star of hummus and falafel. You’ll find dried chickpeas in Middle Eastern salads, Spanish tapas, Portuguese soups, Philippine desserts, and Indian dishes like chana masala. Dried chickpea flour is also a key ingredient in a traditional French flatbread from Nice, socca, and in the Indian fritters called pakoras.
Farmers across Europe and Asia have cultivated chickpeas for centuries, but it’s a relatively newer crop in the U.S. The American chickpea harvest saw a huge spike 2012, when it increased by more than 50 percent from the year before. Currently, most American chickpeas are grown in the Pacific Northwest.
How to Cook Fresh Garbanzo Beans
Fresh garbanzo beans need to be cooked. On their own, the raw peas would be difficult to digest. Cooking green chickpeas is simple. Just cover them in two inches of water and simmer for 25-35 minutes. A longer cooking time will yield softer, creamier beans perfect for hummus or soups. A shorter cooking time will result in firmer beans better suited for salads. Check the pot occasionally to make sure that the water hasn’t boiled away.
Fresh chickpeas are picked while they are still green and in the pod. Dried chickpeas are left on the vine until both the plant and the bean have dried out. Dried garbanzo beans are usually the ones that get cooked and canned or turned into hummus.
Canned chickpeas are cooked and seasoned with salt prior to canning. Dried chickpeas are sold in a raw, dehydrated form. Before serving at home, they’ll need to be both rehydrated and cooked. This can be done by soaking the chickpeas in water for several hours before cooking, or by simmering over low heat for an extended time (exact time may vary depending on the age and dryness of the beans).
Canned chickpeas are ready to eat at a moments notice. This makes them useful solutions for a quick meal. Dried chickpeas have the advantage of being very inexpensive, and giving the cook more control to choose their desired texture and to add their own seasonings. Both options can lead to amazing meals.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There’s too much bad vegetable lasagna in the world. You know what we’re talking about: slippery noodles sitting in a puddle of their own juice, with soggy mushrooms spilling right out. It doesn’t have to be this way! Vegetable lasagna can be great if it’s made well.
The cheap, quick, painless solution? Cook your vegetables separately. Vegetables give off a lot of moisture as they cook, but that doesn’t mean your dish needs to end up watery. If you choose your vegetables wisely (our recipe has mushrooms, zucchini, onion and spinach) and prepare them ahead of time, you’ll end up with a finished lasagna that’s moist but not soggy.
It’s also important not to overload you vegetable lasagna. Having a proper amount of vegetables will help the lasagna maintain its shape, and will keep everything moist, but not watery. As you’re creating layers, don’t worry if it looks more sparse than you’d think. Even if you can see noodle showing through in some places, there will still plenty of veggies in each bite once your dish is complete. When you’re finished, you’ll have a meal that vegetarians and meat eaters will both adore.
Vegetable Lasagna Recipe
8 oz cremini mushrooms
1 yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
½ lb fresh mozzarella cheese
15 oz whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 Tbsps capers
2 Tbsps tomato paste
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 oz spinach
1 24-oz jar marinara sauce
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Prepare the ingredients: Wash and dry the fresh produce. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Heat a large pot of water ¾ of the way full of salted water; cover and heat to boiling on high. Thinly slice the mushrooms. Halve, peel and medium dice the onion. Halve the zucchini lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise. Peel and roughly chop 4 cloves of garlic. Thinly slice the mozzarella cheese. Season the ricotta cheese with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Make the vegetable filling: In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the sliced mushrooms in an even layer and cook, without stirring, 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the dicedonion, sliced zucchini and choppedgarlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes, or until browned and slightly softened. Add thecapers, tomato paste, and as much of the red pepper flakes as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, or until thoroughly coated and fragrant. Add ¼ cup of water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened and the water has cooked off. Turn off the heat. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cook the lasagna noodles: Meanwhile, cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions. The noodles should be just shy of al dente since they will cook a little bit more while the lasagna bakes.
Assemble the lasagna: Spoon about ½ cup marinara into the bottom of a 13×9 baking dish and spread into an even layer. Evenly top with 3 lasagna noodles, ⅓ of the cooked vegetable mixture, ⅓ of the seasoned ricotta* and about 1/2 cup marinara*. Repeat the layers of noodles, cooked vegetables, ricotta and marinara twice. Top with a final layer of 3 lasagna noodles and the remaining marinara. Evenly top with the sliced mozzarella cheese and half the grated parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
*Chef’s Tip: Dollop a little bit of ricotta by the spoonful across the layer in the baking dish, top with the marinara and then use a spatula to smooth both out into an even layer. It’s more than okay if the layers mix a little as you go.
Bake the lasagna & serve your dish: Bake 15 to 20 minutes**, or until lightly browned and the cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with the remaining parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
**Chef’s Tip: You can assemble the lasagna up to a day ahead. However, if you bake the lasagna after taking it straight from the refrigerator, it may need to bake a few extra minutes to warm all the way through.
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.
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
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
Freshly cracked black pepper
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
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
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.
Looking to cut the dairy in your diet? Whether you’re lactose intolerant, thinking about going plant-based, or just trying out Meatless Monday, these dairy-free swaps will make any meal special.
This dairy-free whipped cream is easy to make—all you need is a can of coconut milk. Just refrigerate the coconut milk until it’s chilled, then use an electric mixer and beat until soft, fluffy peaks form. For extra flavor try adding a sweetener of your choice, vanilla extract, or a dash of cinnamon.
This vegan buttermilk replicates buttermilk’s signature tang with a splash of apple cider vinegar. It’s easy to make at home. Try using it in vegan biscuits, mashed potatoes, or pancakes.
Nachos wouldn’t be the same without a drizzle of sour cream. Adding lime juice and cashews to this dairy-free version will bring the tart and creamy contrast that you’re craving to any dish.
To soothe your sweet tooth, try subbing in this fruity blueberry whip for dairy-based ice cream. All you need to make this at home is a blender. Buying frozen blueberries makes this dessert unbelievably easy.
Heavy cream adds luxurious texture to sauces and soups. This dairy-free alternative uses cashews to replicate the decadent richness of cream. Soak your cashews in warm water for 2-3 hours for the best results.
You’ve probably heard of using nutritional yeast as a dairy-free substitute for parmesan. This recipe starts with nutritional yeast, but then adds texture and flavor with nuts and garlic powder. It’s the perfect topping for vegan pastas and salads.
You don’t need to be vegan to enjoy these dairy-free recipes: they’re delicious in their own right. No matter what you’re making, these Meatless Monday-approved options will make going dairy-free a cinch.
While stuck at home, Blue Apron’s Head Chef John Adler turned to an old favorite recipe. Keep reading for Chef John’s advice on how to master this occasionally tricky dish: Pasta al Limone.
The thing that I love the most about this Pasta al Limone recipe is its deceptive simplicity. It’s just 5 familiar ingredients, but it can be tricky to pull them together into an elegant “simple” sauce.
This dish is a Neopolitan classic, and there are dozens of versions. This is the Franny’s version, and in my unbiased opinion, it’s easily the best. During my time as the Head Chef at Franny’s, I had a list of customers I had to notify when this was coming back on the menu. The Meyer Lemon Spaghetti, in particular, had a dedicated fanbase.
Franny’s Pasta al Limone
The mise en place is easy: 1 pound of dried pasta, 4 oz butter, 1/2 cup grated parm, zest and juice of 3 lemons, separated (if you can do this with meyer lemons it’s a whole different ball game), good olive oil, salt and pepper.
The secret, as they say, is in the sauce. Better stated, it’s in how you build the sauce.
You begin as you would for cacio e pepe, by toasting freshly cracked pepper in a dry pan over medium-low heat. The key here is the aroma; you want to unlock the fruity aromas that are bound up deep within all dried spices.
When the pepper begins to smell floral and complex, you’re there. Add 1/2 cup tap water and turn off the heat.
Cook your pasta in heavily salted water. I favor long noodles here, mainly because this entire dish is an aromatic experience. When you slurp up long noodles, you get more of that. Cooking time will vary based on your noodle selection, but be sure to leave the noodles al dente so that you can finish them in the sauce.
When the pasta is one minute away from being done, take out 3/4 cup water and pour 1/2 cup of it over the zest. This activates the zest, and also keeps it from clumping up in the pan.
Drain the pasta and add it to the pan of pepper water. Turn the heat to medium.
Add your zest, butter, a few more cracks of paper, and a medium *glug* of oil to the pan of noodles. Stir constantly until it is glazed. If it starts to break, add a few drops of the reserved pasta water to bring it back together.
Add the parm and stir to incorporate.
Turn off the heat and add in the lemon juice. Stir until fully incorporated and the pasta looks light and creamy.
Divide between bowls (serves 2 in times of emotional eating, 3 if feeling reasonable, or 4 as a mid course) and finish with another drizzle of oil.
You don’t have to be a vegetarian to leverage the power of plant-based protein. Adding these non-meat proteins to your diet will help make any meal more filling and nutritious, whether you’re reducing meat, eliminating it, or just in the mood for something different.
What is plant-based protein
Protein is a macronutrient required by our bodies. It promotes muscle health, and helps you feel full. You may remember from high school that proteins are made up of amino acids. Here’s a quick crash course in case it’s been awhile since your last chemistry class: our bodies require 20 different amino acids to form the protein in our cells. Eleven of them are naturally produced by the body, and the remaining 9 come from food. Foods like meat, fish, and eggs contain all 9 of those essential amino acids, and are considered complete proteins.
Plant-based proteins are simply non-meat foods containing essential amino acids. Even though many vegetarian proteins are considered incomplete, meaning they do not contain all 9 essential amino acids, your body can do the work of completing them so long as the missing acids come from another food source. To ensure you’re getting all of the essential amino acids, eat a variety of plant-based proteins.
Plant-based protein benefits
In addition to protein, many of these plant-based options are full of other beneficial nutrients. A diet full of rice, beans, and vegetables will supply you with fiber and vitamins in addition to protein.
Our favorite plant-based proteins
Quinoa is a nutrient-packed whole grain. In addition to protein, it’s packed with fiber, iron, and magnesium. Quinoa is a great addition to a salad, or as a dish in it’s own right. Each ½ cup of quinoa contains 4g of protein.
To cook 1/2 cup of quinoa fill a medium pot 3/4 of the way up with salted water; cover and heat to boiling on high. Once boiling, add the quinoa and cook, uncovered, 18 to 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain thoroughly
Swap quinoa in for rice and top it off with an egg for even more protein
Chia seeds are tiny but powerful. They make a great addition to smoothies or salad dressings. Their unique ability to absorb water has led to a variety of inventive recipes. We’ve used them as an egg replacement in veggie burgers and to help make homemade jam spreadable. Chia seeds contain 4.7g of protein per ounce.
Top off a delicious grain or pasta with roasted acorn squash. In this dish, dried apricots and carrots sautéed with vibrant Aleppo pepper lend the fluffy couscous welcome texture and pops of delicious flavor.
For a lighter alternative to the classic potato side dish, consider one of these recipes for vegetable fries. We won’t pretend they’re exactly like the ones you’d pick up at McDonald’s, but we’ll argue that that’s a good thing. They’re still delicious, you can still eat them with your hands, and afterwards you’ll feel virtuous and healthy.
Balance out a rich meal like a cheeseburger with some hearty root vegetable fries. To make sure these get crispy, give them plenty of space while baking. Arrange the sliced vegetables in a single layer with room to spare. Roast, stirring halfway through, for 16 to 18 minutes in a 450°F oven. They’re done when they’re lightly browned and tender.
Breadcrumbs, cheese, and spices make these zucchini fries crispy and flavorful. They may be light and healthy, but we promise that even the pickiest eaters will go back for seconds of these crispy vegetable fries.
This take on fries showcases one of our favorite ingredients: eggplant. Thin-cut pieces of eggplant are coated in parmesan breadcrumbs, and then baked. The result is a crispy surface and creamy texture.
These carrot fries couldn’t be more simple. Just slice the carrots, toss with olive oil and salt, and roast for 15-17 minutes in a 450°F oven. Serve them as a snack, alongside a sandwich for lunch, or with a hearty burger for a satisfying dinner.
Elote is a beloved Mexican street-food. There, you can easily stop by a vendor to pick up an ear of hot summery corn topped with tangy crema and popping with spice. It’s hard to resist. Our best advice? Jump on the bandwagon and make it yourself.
Good elote starts with good corn. Traditionally the corn would be boiled or roasted, but if you have the option at home it’s also delicious on the grill. The added element of char pairs beautifully with the creamy topping.
When it’s time for the topping, check out your local Mexican grocery store to find crema. This cultured dairy product is similar to crème fraîche. In a pinch, you could also swap in sour cream, but some recipes also use mayonnaise. In addition to adding a luscious texture to the dish, crema also serves as the glue that holds on the other toppings and spices.
While you’re at the store, scan the shelves for Cotija. Cotija is a hard cow’s milk cheese named after the city in Mexico from which it originates. The cheese itself is salty and mild. It usually comes in a block, and you can crumble it at home by grating it on the side of a box grater or tossing a hunk in the blender. If you can’t find Cotija, crumbled Parmesan (no need to splurge on the super-aged stuff) would be a decent substitute.
Once you’ve assembled your ingredients, the sky is the limit. At Blue Apron, we love traditional corn elote so much that we couldn’t help but borrow the flavors and toss them over our other favorite vegetables. It turns out this tangy topping is delicious on a variety of dishes. Start with the original, and then go wild with the four recipes below.
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 chef Rikki Giambruno of Hyacinth for sharing this recipe for rich and herbaceous marinated eggplant.
Hyacinth is the brainchild of chef Rikki Giambruno. The charming and colorful restaurant pays respects to multiple aspects of the chef’s background. The food is inspired by his family’s Italian heritage, but local Minnesotan flare runs throughout. It’s in the ingredients the chef chooses to highlight, it’s in the local flowers displayed in the dining room, and it’s in the name of the restaurant itself; the chef grew up on Hyacinth Rd in Victoria, Minnesota.
This recipe celebrates the richness and versatility of eggplants; try it on the grill or in a screaming hot pan, just don’t be afraid of a little char.
Grilled or Roasted Marinated Eggplant with Lovage Salsa
For the eggplants
4 Eggplants, preferably Japanese or thin globe eggplants
For the marinade
2 Tbsp crushed coriander seeds
2 Tbsp crushed cumin seeds
1 Tbsp crushed fennel seeds
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp Aleppo pepper
1 clove garlic, grated
Zest of 1 lemon
About 1 C extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp tomato paste
For the lovage salsa
2 C lovage leaves, roughly chopped
1 C parsley leaves, roughly chopped
½ C cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
½ C mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 medium shallot, minced
2 pieces green garlic, minced OR ½ clove garlic, grated
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 lemon, zested and juiced
½ tsp Aleppo pepper
1 C extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Prepare the marinade and eggplants:
Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. With a sharp knife, score the flesh of the eggplant in a crisscross pattern. Season the flesh side of the eggplant with salt and rub it in until it is fully absorbed. Allow the eggplant to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. You should see beads of moisture begin to form on the eggplant.
After the eggplants have rested, gently squeeze each half to remove the excess water. Use paper towels to blot them as dry as possible.
Combine all the dry marinade ingredients together. Slowly stir in the olive oil until the mixture reaches a wet sand consistency. Mix in the tomato paste, then rub the cut sides of the eggplants with marinade.
Heat a grill, grill pan, or cast iron pan to high heat. If you are using a cast iron pan preheat your oven to 400° F, using convection if possible. Add a slick of oil to the pan. Once your cooking surface is preheated, place the eggplants cut side down.
If grilling, allow the cut side to become very well roasted and charred in places. Once you are satisfied with the level of grill/char on the cut side, flip them over onto the skin side and cook until the eggplant is completely tender. You can test this by poking the eggplant with a cake tester, or by simply pinching it with your finger.
If roasting, after you have added the eggplant to the pan, let the pan heat back up, searing the cut side of the eggplant gently. Place the pan in the oven, eggplant still cut side down, and roast until completely tender. Check after 10 minutes. If it isn’t done, check every five minutes until it’s cooked through.
Make the salsa:
Combine lemon juice, vinegar and honey in a bowl. Add the shallot and green garlic (or garlic clove) first. Stir until well combined and let sit for a few minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Taste the salsa and add salt to taste. Adjust the seasoning with lemon juice or Aleppo pepper if necessary.
Serve the eggplants warm, topped with lovage salsa and with lemon wedges, sea salt and yogurt on the side.