Asparagus season is in full swing, but before you go grabbing bunches of it at the farmers market, take a look at some of our favorite recipes for inspiration. Asparagus is one of the most versatile vegetables, because you can eat it shaved raw in salads, chopped and cooked in brunch or pasta dishes or even roasted on its own (sometimes with a little bacon). If you don’t wrap it in a blanket of pork, it’s low in calories — about 4 calories per spear — and it’s a source of fiber and potassium. Asparagus also contains glutathione, a powerful anticarcinogen and antioxidant.
So make use of your local green market’s plentiful asparagus stock with these 25 fantastic uses of asparagus.
- This basic Roasted Asparagus with Orange Glaze recipe from Tiffani Thiessen is a good place to start your asparagus adventures.
- Spaghetti With Asparagus, Smoked Mozzarella and Prosciutto from Giada De Laurentiis is luscious and rich but takes only a few minutes to prepare.
- White asparagus is grown under soil to prevent photosynthesis from turning the stalks green. Just remember to peel the stalks before you cook them. Try it in Emeril Lagasse’s Fried Soft Shell Crab, White Asparagus and Wild Sorrel With a Grilled Ramp Dressing.
- Creamy Farfalle With Cremini, Asparagus and Walnuts from Giada is a creamy crowd-pleaser.
- Wrap asparagus in almost anything. Rachael Ray wraps it in bacon, Kelsey Nixon tucks prosciutto around hers, Giada goes for smoked salmon (pictured at top), Tia Mowry uses Asian-marinated grilled beef and Ellie Krieger tries smoked turkey.
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A pantry staple, dried lentils are often overlooked for convenient canned beans. These little legumes are packed with nutrition and are an easy way to add extra protein without meat to every meal.
Lentils were one of the first plants to be domesticated, and these nutritional powerhouses are used in cuisines all around the globe. Red, orange, yellow, brown or green, lentils are a good non-meat source of potassium, iron and protein. Unlike other beans and legumes, lentils don’t need to be soaked before cooking; use a 2-to-1 ratio of water to lentils and you’ll be good to go in about 25 minutes (or more if you want to mash them).
Not only do you get a great bang for your buck, but lentils are a “meaty” legume, meaning they have the ability to turn sometimes-wimpy vegetarian dishes into hearty meals.
If you’re looking to decrease the amount of meat in your diet, use mashed lentils to replace part (or all) of the ground meat in dishes like meatballs, meatloaf and stuffed dumplings. But if meat is still on the table for you, pair lentils with fats like duck and pork (think bacon) to add a bit of richness to this mild-flavored legume.
Whether you’re trying a meatless meal or making a hearty stew, lentils are a go-to pantry staple that deserve to come out of the pantry to shine this winter.
- Alton Brown’s classic Lentil Soup (pictured above) will be sure to warm you up during the next cold spell. The trick to good lentil soup is to make sure all of the vegetables are finely chopped, about the size of a cooked lentil.
- Instead of going out to eat, try making your own Ethiopian spread at home. Serve Red Lentils with chicken stew (doro wat), braised cabbage, braised beef and injera flat bread.
- Bal’s Lentil Cookies, made with lentils, whole-wheat flour and rolled oats, are healthier than the average cookie, but brown sugar and chocolate chips still hit the sweet spot.
- Rachael Ray turns lentil soup into a full meal with her Sausage, Kale and Lentil Soup.
- Salads aren’t just for summer; warm French Lentils with Walnuts and Goat Cheese is a protein-packed vegetarian lunch option.
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Although you may remember them as the bane of your childhood existence, Brussels sprouts are the slightly smaller, but equally delicious, cousin of cabbage. Forget whatever you may have thought about Brussels sprouts in your youth and give them another try. When in doubt, pair sprouts with pork; whether it’s bacon, pancetta or even chorizo, no one will be able to resist your bacon-y Brussels sprouts.
On their own, Brussels sprouts are quite the superfood: They’re low in calories, yet packed with vitamin C, fiber and even protein.
Brussels sprouts grow on a long branch, and although it’s a shock at first glance, a stalk of Brussels sprouts is easy to manage; carefully cut off the individual sprouts and peel off the first layer of leaves before rinsing and cooking. Alternatively, purchase trimmed Brussels sprouts for a jump-start in the kitchen.
Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion to showcase your newfound love for sprouts. If you’re still curious about sprouts, check out this Brussels sprouts tutorial, then get cooking. Your mother would be so proud.
- If you’ve never made Brussels sprouts (or have never truly enjoyed them), start out with simple Roasted Brussels Sprouts.
- Deep-fried Brussels Sprouts are tossed with a miso-sake sauce and crispy bacon for an Asian take on classic flavors.
- Brussels sprouts are often roasted, but they can also be cooked on the stovetop. Get them nice and brown, then add water, stock or white wine to cook them the rest of the way. Try the method out with Tiffani Thiessen’s Balsamic-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta (pictured above).
- Bal Arneson’s Indian Brussels Sprouts are tossed with garlic, ginger, coriander seeds, smoked paprika and fenugreek leaves for a fully flavored side dish.
- Anne Burrell’s simple Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon are finished with toasted pine nuts and a bit of shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.
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Oktoberfest in Germany may have ended, but you can keep the celebrations going all month long.
Sauerkraut, a traditional German fermented cabbage, isn’t just a delicious hot dog topping or stuffing for Reuben sandwiches. It contains probiotics (those same ones found in yogurt), which help maintain healthy stomach functions, so eat up!
Break out a beer stein and your lederhosen to prepare these delicious sauerkraut-stuffed dishes.
- All you need to make Alton Brown’s Sauerkraut recipe is cabbage, some spices and a fair amount of time; it takes about two weeks for the cabbage to ferment. Pickling salt is a fine-grain pure salt that doesn’t contain additives like anti-caking agents or iodine that other cooking salts may have.
- Rachael Ray’s Reuben-Style Casserole with Pastrami Meatballs, Sauerkraut and Barley is an easy make-ahead meal, perfect to warm you up on chilly fall evenings.
- If you’re an adventurous baker, make Beer and Sauerkraut Fudge Cupcakes with Beer Frosting.
- Serve Michael Symon’s Bratwurst Stewed with Sauerkraut (pictured above) on a baguette at your next tailgate.
- A simple Sauerkraut Soup with Sausage is hearty enough to be a full meal.
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Zucchini are available year-round in grocery stores, but they’re at their peak right now, when you can find them fresh, local and cheap. Unlike the winter squash coming into markets in the months ahead, zucchini has edible skin and small, soft seeds. Zucchini is a good source of potassium and vitamins C and A, and it’s super low in calories — wins all around.
Zucchini are a multifunctional squash; you can fry them, saute them, use a vegetable peeler to turn zucchini into “pasta ribbons” or even munch on the raw squash. They can take the place of potatoes and pasta if you’re looking to go low-carb, but mostly they’re a delicious and easy addition to any meal. To get all of the moisture out before frying, purge a zucchini as you would an eggplant. Click here to see how to do it.
Stock up at the grocery store or farmers market and use up this squash-of-all-trades in these 25 ways:
- Baked instead of fried, Ellie Krieger’s Zucchini Parmesan Crisps (pictured above) are a light snack or side dish for any occasion.
- Frittatas are great ways to use up whatever is in the fridge. Try the Frittata with Zucchini for any meal of the day, and add in other vegetables hanging around the house.
- Giada makes Fried Zucchini with panko, while Alex Guarnaschelli makes her Fried Zucchini with Italian breadcrumbs. Either way, you’re frying up something delicious.
- Carpaccio is usually an Italian dish of very thinly sliced raw meat or fish. Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos make a vegan version, Zucchini Carpaccio.
- Meatless Monday calls for Zucchini Meatballs, made with zucchini, breadcrumbs, grated Pecorino and smoked scamorza, which is a cow’s milk cheese similar in texture and flavor to mozzarella.
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Blueberries are at the height of their season on the East Coast, which means whether you’re picking them from your backyard or the local farmer’s market, it’s time to stock up.
Small but mighty, blueberries are packed with antioxidants, and vitamins C and K. Utilize these sweet treats year-round by freezing them or by canning homemade blueberry jam (pictured above). For more information on your favorite summertime berry check out this Cooking Channel video on blueberries or just get straight to cooking with these 25 ways.
- Blueberry pancake options for everyone: Blueberry Pancakes, Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce, and Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes.
- If you’re making blueberry pancakes, it just makes sense to serve them with two-ingredient Blueberry Syrup for Pancakes.
- Blueberry Breakfast Bars are the kind of breakfast you dream about, tons of flavor, whole grains and you can even take them on the go! Rye flakes are a breakfast cereal made by rolling whole-grain rye flat. If you can’t find rye flakes in the health food section of your grocery store, replace them with more oats.
- For when you’ve stockpiled an absurd amount of blueberries at the farmer’s market, Blueberry Pie can help.
- Or if you prefer your baked goods to only have a bottom crust, there is Fresh Blueberry Tart.
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Basil plants everywhere else have grown wild this summer and now you’re probably wondering what you’re going to do with the rest of your abundant supply.
Your first instinct is probably to make a boatload of pesto. Do it. One can never have too much pesto. But once you’ve tired of pesto, it’s time to branch out with your basil options. The beautiful thing about basil is that it’s naturally sweet, so adding it to desserts (pair it with strawberries and ricotta) isn’t too much of a stretch.
Use up the rest of your basil supply with these 25 recipes:
- Drizzle Basil Oil over some sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella for a classic Caprese salad.
- Lemon Basil Potatoes make for a fresh alternative to mayo-heavy potato salads.
- Pulse together some Italian staples like garlic, basil and Parmesan for a simple side dish on Italian night, Basil Garlic Bread.
- Giada’s Tomato, Watermelon and Basil Skewers (pictured above) are drizzled with a balsamic reduction and sprinkled with some sea salt, making for a fresh balance of sweet and savory.
- Kelsey Nixon’s take on risotto, Lemon-Basil Orzotto, is a quick and easy weeknight dinner fix.
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Corn is an iconic staple of summer — The season has truly arrived when farm stands on the side of every road are selling local fresh corn. It’s served at backyard barbecues and family cookouts, and brought to every picnic all summer long.
It’s easy to be lazy with your corn-cooking techniques because a good ear of corn is so juicy and sweet on its own. Corn can be so much more than just grilled on the cob and topped with some plain butter; it can also be salsa, salads, slathered with lime butter, and even turned into waffles and pancakes. In the off season, you can pretty much always substitute frozen or canned corn, but make use of fresh produce while you can with these corn-centric recipes.
- Serve Ginger Coriander Corn Salad as a hot or cold side dish, keeping in mind that the coriander called for is what we know as fresh cilantro.
- Grill up corn on the cob and brush a chili-lime mayo over Mexican Street Corn or Mexican Grilled Corn.
- Get in touch with your Southern side at breakfast with Bobby Deen’s Jalapeno Cheddar Corn Cakes, made lighter with whole-wheat flour, just a bit of cheddar and a reduced-fat sour cream topping. Or go in another nontraditional breakfast direction with Corn Waffles, topped with chili, grated cheese and sour cream.
- New corn-grilling technique: Wrap soaked, shucked corn in a piece of husk before grilling. Then top Grilled Corn with jalapenos, lime zest and crumbled Cotija cheese.
- Kelsey Nixon’s Charred Corn Salad with Basil Vinaigrette (pictured above) makes the best of summer’s bounty.
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For many, cauliflower is a solid standby vegetable — something to pick up in the grocery store when you’re not in the mood for anything else and can’t make a decision. It’s time to learn how multifaceted cauliflower really is and to incorporate this member of the cabbage family into more meals. Blitzed in a food processor, cauliflower becomes a rice substitute, boiled and mashed it’s a stand-in for mashed potatoes, while thickly sliced and grilled cauliflower steaks are a summertime Meatless Monday dream. Best of all? It’s packed with vitamins C and K and is a good source of fiber and potassium.
Check out a quick video tutorial on how to buy, store and prepare cauliflower before digging into these 25 ways to use it.
- Raid your pantry for black olives and sun-dried tomatoes in Laura Calder’s Cauliflower Salad.
- Step up your pickle game with Bal Arneson’s Cauliflower Pickles (pictured above). Use these on sandwiches or as a side dish in place of hot giardiniera.
- Michael Symon takes Roasted Cauliflower to a new level by adding honey, orange zest, anchovies and capers to strike a sweet-savory balance. This side dish will blow your mind.
- Prepare vegetarian-friendly Cauliflower and Potato Samosas the night before you want to serve them. A quick trip to the deep fryer will have these dough pockets of veggies ready to eat in less than 10 minutes.
- Nutritional yeast brings the cheesy flavor without the dairy in Cheesy Cauliflower “Popcorn.”
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Quinoa sparkles and shines all year long, but I love it most in the summer when I cook up a huge batch and mix in tons of fresh veggies for barbecues, or I use it throughout the week in my lunch salads. Quinoa can take the place of almost any grain or starch, cooked risotto style, featured in a pilaf or even tossed in with curries.
Although it’s often associated with grains, quinoa is really an ancient seed, first used about 5,000 years ago by the Incas in South America. There are thousands of varieties of quinoa, but most often you’ll find white, red and black. Keeping in mind that the darker varieties are more firm and don’t absorb water as well as the white, they can all be used interchangeably. Most quinoa is pre-rinsed, but check the package. Its natural coating, saponin, leaves a bitter taste when not rinsed off.
This week marks the unofficial start to summer, and with that comes endless uses for quinoa.
- Holiday weekends mean more time for breakfast; try Quinoa Hash Browns and Turkish Eggs (pictured above).
- Bobby Deen’s veggie-heavy Quinoa, Salmon and Broccoli Bowl is the perfect meal for bikini season.
- Tabbouleh is a traditional Middle Eastern salad, heavy on healthy herbs like mint and cilantro. Mix in our favorite superfood for Quinoa Tabbouleh.
- Serve Kelsey Nixon’s Pomegranate Quinoa Pilaf (less than 250 calories per serving) hot or cold all year long.
- Ingrid Hoffmann’s Yellow Quinoa is seasoned with adobo seasoning, a traditional Mexican spice blend of garlic, paprika, oregano and salt.
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