Panzanella Salad

Panzanella salad with cubes of crusty bread and tomatoes

With the weather warming up and the produce in peak season, it’s no wonder the month of May is National Salad Month. The sunshine-filled summer days allows a little more breathing room for lighter and refreshing meals with none as popular to dine on than salads. But when we say salad, we’re not thinking of your typical traditional green salad, not when there are so many different fruits, vegetables and protein combinations to enjoy. Salads can be quite the nutritional powerhouse such as with this Chickpea and Grape Salad, Kale and Farro Salad or Citrus and Beet Salad. You can even put your own spin on salads in a fun and unconventional way like with our Kool Cabbage™ Wedge Salad or Spiralizer Summer Salad. However, since we’re entering outdoor party season this month, we’re celebrating this tasty food holiday with a traditional Panzanella Salad. Panzanella is a classic Italian recipe that takes the fresh flavors of heirloom tomatoes and basil and combines it with hearty bread for a delicious summery picnic-style dish. The different colors of the heirloom tomatoes give this dish great color while the crusty bread soaks up all of its fresh juices and flavors.

Organically Grown Heirloom Tomatoes

One of the first things you’ll notice about heirloom tomatoes are that they look nothing like regular tomatoes. Their asymmetrical shapes and deep, vibrant coloring make them stand out from the typical red, ripe tomato you’d find at your local supermarket. They come in many different sizes and get their unique characteristics from special breeding that’s been passed down from previous generations. They can range from bright, striped yellow to dark maroon to lightly blushed orange and much more. Not only do heirloom tomatoes include a wide range of colors but also flavors from sweet and succulent to rich and smokey. Melissa’s special selection of heirloom tomatoes may include popular varieties such as Brandywine, Evergreen, Zebra and Jubilee. We love these gorgeous fruits paired with fresh mozzarella cheese and basil, topped onto a simple Heirloom Tomato Toast or tossed together with noodles and garlic.

Panzanella Salad 

Yields: 10 to 12 servings

Ingredients

For the vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of white wine or champagne vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, freshly ground

1. In a large pan, heat up the olive oil. Toss in the bread and salt and brown for around 8 to 10 minutes.

2. While the bread is cooking, make the vinaigrette. In a bowl or mason jar, mix together all of the ingredients.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the heirloom tomatoes, baby heirloom tomatoes and basil. Add the bread and vinaigrette and toss together, making sure all of the ingredients are coated.

4. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Allow for the salad to sit for at least half an hour before serving.

White Wine Sangria

Homemade Sparkling White Wine Sangria

Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner which means the start of sangria season! This bubbly, boozy libation is a favorite for summer outdoor parties, picnics and gatherings. While delicious food is always a requirement, it’s not quite a rocking Memorial Day weekend shindig without tasty beverages to enjoy on the side. And since no one wants to play bartender all afternoon long, why not have something you can put together in advance? White sangria is always a popular adults-only treat and is incredibly easy to make with just a few simple ingredients. All you need to put one together is your favorite bottle of white wine, lemon-lime soda for the extra bubbles and sweet, summery fruits such as berries and stone fruit. This one is based on the 2012 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, one of our most popular options from our wine selection. The result is an irresistibly easy refreshing that is sure to get the party started in style. Enjoy it alongside Grilled Hawaiian Chicken, Potato Cucumber Dill Salad, Fruit Crumble and other tasty Memorial Day picnic recipes.

Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs

A timeless choice for sparkling wine, the Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs was America’s first commercially produced Chardonnay-based brut wine. The 2010 release is vibrant, fruity and crisp and boasts fresh aromas of green apple, pineapple and grapefruit. This wonderful wine pairs beautifully with seafood appetizers and hard cheeses, making it a festive option for enjoying at a formal dinner or any cocktail party.

“The 2012 Blanc de Blancs open with fresh aromas of green apple, juicy pineapple and ripe grapefruit. The fruitful nose is complemented by developed nuances of fresh baked brioche and lemon tart. Bright flavors of grapefruit, lime and pineapple, are accented by a slight minerality on the finish. The plate is crisp on entry, with a long, tangy and refreshing acidity.”

– Tasting Notes from Winemakers Keith Hock and Hugh Davies

Please visit our website and browse through more selections of wine.

White Wine Sangria

Yields: 8 servings

Ingredients

1. In a large pitcher, pour in the entire bottle of the wine. Add the sugar and stir together until the sugar is all dissolved.

2. Add the raspberries, peaches and mint leaves to the pitcher.

3. Put the pitcher in the refrigerator and allow for it to chill for around 2 to 4 hours.

4. When ready to serve, pour in the lemon lime soda and add the ice cubes. Stir gently with the wine until all of the ingredients are well mixed.

Chocolate Raspberry Crepe Cake

Pancake chocolate cake with fresh raspberry.

Mother’s Day is right around the corner and what better way to show Mom some love than with something sweet? While we should approach each day as though it were Mother’s Day, May 14th is the day to treat her to something special. After all, it’s the thought that really counts and homemade dessert is always made with plenty of love. You can go with the tried-and-true breakfast in bed and serve up a Meyer Lemon Yogurt Coffee Cake, Ginger Cake with Apricot Sticky Sauce, Eggs Benedict with Chipotle Hollandaise and more. Or if you plan to take her out for brunch this year instead, you can always surprise her at home with this Chocolate Raspberry Crepe Cake. Not to worry, the crepe cake is not as labor intensive as it may look. Although you can certainly stand over a hot stove and make your own crepes, our ready-made crepes makes it easy to put together this beautiful and elegant cake. The crepes are assembled layer by layer with freshly-made chocolate buttercream and topped off with juicy, tart raspberries and Melissa’s chocolate dessert sauce for one exquisite flavor combination that’s sure to wow Mom. For other delicious Mother’s Day brunch ideas, visit our menu.

Melissa’s ready-to-serve Crepes are a delicious and convenient way to save hours in the kitchen preparing desserts. Made from powdered milk, enriched flour, sugar, dextrose, whole eggs, butter and salt, these crepes are fresh and can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to a month. Not only can you make sweet crepes like Crepes Suzette with Ojai Pixie Tangerines or Strawberry Crepes with Raspberry Sauce,  you can also use them for savory ones as well. Whip up a tasty breakfast crepe filled with eggs and sausage or stuff them with seafood, chicken or vegetables. To make life a little sweeter, we also have a full lineup of Dessert Sauces to choose from with flavors that include Caramel, Chocolate, Raspberry, White Chocolate and Cinnamon. Drizzle them over crepes, waffles, pancakes and French toast for breakfast or on top of cake and ice cream for a decadent treat.

Chocolate Raspberry Crepe Cake 

Yields: 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

1. Begin by making the chocolate buttercream. In a stand mixer, combine the butter and cocoa powder. Then add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time followed by 1 tablespoon of milk at a time. Repeat these steps until all of the sugar and milk has been added.

2. Then add the espresso powder and vanilla extract and mix it in. Set aside the buttercream frosting until ready to assemble the crepe cake.

3. When ready to assemble, begin by placing one crepe onto a serving plate. Spread a thin layer of the chocolate buttercream on top, leaving about a 1/2 border around the edge. Repeat this step until all the crepes and buttercream have been used.

4. Place the crepe cake in the refrigerator for at least a few hours or up to overnight.

5. When ready to serve, drizzle the top of the crepe cake generously with the chocolate dessert sauce. Top with plenty of fresh raspberries.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars

Strawberry Rhubarb  Crumb Bars Seen From Above

Hooray for rhubarb season! Besides lemons, fennel and artichokes, nothing screams springtime more than rhubarb. We absolutely cannot let the season pass by without helping ourselves to the ultimate pie plant. Although not normally eaten on its own, rhubarb when combined with strawberries is one exquisite combination. With the intense tartness of the rhubarb balanced by the sweetness of the strawberries, you could almost say they’re a match made in heaven. You’ll find this wonderful pairing in many desserts such as Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble, Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins and more. For this week’s celebration of all things rhubarb, we bring you something a little more portable–Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars! Its crisp, buttery top and bottom layer combined with the sweet-sour and jammy filling makes these scrumptious, little treats are one of our all-time favorite springtime snacks! With such simple ingredients, these bars are as easy-as-pie to put together. Make them with the kids as a fun weekend project and have them enjoy throughout the week as a dessert of after-school treat.

Raw Organic Red Rhubarb

Rhubarb may be a vegetable but it’s often eaten as a fruit. This springtime favorite is not usually eaten raw and is used with only its stalks, which resemble crisp, crunchy celery. It has a tart flavor that when combined with other sweet fruits such as strawberries and cooked with plenty of sugar becomes quite a marvelous treat. The texture holds up well during the cooking process making it a popular addition to baking recipes. It’s not only a pie-worthy ingredient but can also be added diced to muffins and cakes or used in sauces to flavor meat, poultry and fish. When selecting your rhubarb, make sure to look for thin, crisp stalks with good red coloring and fresh-looking, blemish-free leaves.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars

Yields: 24 bars

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups of rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of strawberries, sliced
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of rolled oats
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup of white granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt

1. Begin by cooking the fruit together. In a saucepan, combine the strawberries, rhubarb and lemon juice and cook over medium heat for around 10 to 12 minutes.

2. In a separate bowl, mix together the white sugar and corn starch. Then add it to the fruit. Cook for another couple of minutes making sure to stir constantly until the mixture is thickened.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is preheating, use a mixer at low speed to mix together the dry ingredients of all-purpose flour, oats, brown sugar, butter, baking soda and salt.

4. Grease a 13×9-inch baking pan. Take about half of the crumb mixture and press it along the bottom of the pan. Spread the filling on top. Then add another layer of the remaining crumb mixture.

5. Bake for around 30 to 35 minutes until the filling is bubbly and the crumb golden brown.

6. Remove from the oven to cool to room temperature for at least an hour to an hour and half before cutting.

Roasted Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Homemade Roasted Quinoa Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Cinco de Mayo is coming up which means it’s time to put on our party hats and throw a festive party! The holiday celebrates Mexico’s unexpected victory over the French army at the 1862 Battle of Puebla. However, Cinco de Mayo is not just commemorated by those living in Mexico but the United States as well. Many Mexican Americans take pride in the holiday and look at it as a time for honoring Mexican heritage and culture. Here at Melissa’s, we’re looking forward to a day filled with exciting parades, parties and of course, food. This year, we’re bringing you a fiesta of flavors with these Roasted Quinoa Stuffed Peppers. This is our healthy twist on stuffed peppers, which are filled with delicious, nutty quinoa, protein-rich black beans, sweet corn and more. The recipe may be simple and meatless but don’t underestimate just how filling and scrumptious they turn out. After cooking the ingredients separately, all you need to do to assemble is stuff the peppers, top off with plenty of cheese and pop it into the broiler for a couple of minutes! For other tasty Cinco de Mayo-inspired recipe ideas, please check out our menu.

Hot Sweet and Chili Pepper Varieties

When it comes to stuffing peppers,  people often use bell peppers or poblanos. For today’s recipe, we’re using Pasilla peppers, which are not to be confused with poblano peppers. Poblano peppers are a little more mild, ranging from 1,000 to 1,500 Scoville heat units while Pasilla peppers range from 1,000 to 2,500 Scoville heat units. Both pack less heat than jalapeños. Pasilla pepers have a sophisticated flavor that’s both earthy and sweet with just a hint of cocoa and raisins. This makes them excellent when used in a variety of traditional Latin dishes such as mole sauce, adobo sauce, salsas and chile rellenos. Roasting them in the oven helps bring out their flavor which tastes exquisite when combined with fruits, seafood or other meats. Check out our selection of fresh and dried chiles.

Roasted Quinoa Stuffed Peppers 

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

1. Place the pasilla chiles onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast them in the oven for about 8 to 10 minutes until the skin has blackened. Turn every few minutes to get an even char. After the peppers have finished roasting, set them aside to cool for at least 20 minutes.

2. While the chiles are cooling, heat up some oil in a large skillet. Add the onions, garlic, black beans and corn and cook for a few minutes until everything has softened. Add the oregano and cumin and mix well. Once cooked, transfer to a large bowl.

3. Add the quinoa, sour cream, 1/2 a cup of cilantro and 1/2 a cup of jack cheese to the bowl. Mix well and add salt and pepper to taste.

4. When ready to assemble, peel the skins off the roasted chiles. Cut a slit lengthwise along the chiles. Remove the seeds.

5. Spoon in the mixture to fill up the chiles. Make sure the filling is snug and secure inside the chiles. Place the chiles back onto another lined baking sheet. Add the rest of the cheese on top of each chile.

6. Place the chiles under the broiler for around 3 minutes until the cheese has melted and become bubbly. Garnish with the rest of the cilantro before serving.

Roasted Lemon Garlic Chicken

Roasted chicken meat with lemon slices

If there’s one food holiday we can’t resist celebrating this April, it’s National Garlic Month! This time of the year, we’re commemorating all things pungent, sweet and spicy with the ultimate delicious vegetable bulb. Fragrant and flavorful, garlic is one necessary go-to ingredient found in most cuisines around the world. We can never get enough garlic in our lives and what better way to get into the spirit than with a classic roasted chicken recipe? It’s simple to put together and has all the great flavors of a comforting home-cooked meal. Lemon, garlic and fresh herbs are such a fantastic combination that melds together beautifully with chicken. We roast the chicken in an easy butter and herb mixture along with plenty of onions, lemons and of course, garlic. Nothing goes to waste with this chicken recipe as we even cook up the juices at the end with a little chicken broth to serve along the side. The result is one flavorful, fall-off-the-bone tender and juicy main course that’s packed with all that garlicky, lemony goodness we all love.

Garlic on the wooden background

You can never have enough garlic. The many benefits it touts far outweights its pungent reputation. Sharp and spicy when eaten raw, the flavors of garlic mellow and sweet considerably during the cooking process. Here at Melissa’s, we have an excellent selection of garlic items such as classic Organic Garlic, which can be used in all sorts of recipes from Italian to French to Asian and more. Garlic can be used whole but is even better crushed, chopped, pressed or pureed to release more of their essential oils and reveal an even more pronounced flavor, which is where our Peeled Garlic come in handy. We also have ready-to-use Roasted Garlic and Minced Garlic for your convenience, both of which can be used to add flavor to main dishes, stir-fries, sauces and more. Another National Garlic Month-worthy item that you might not have ever come across is our Elephant Garlic. Now don’t let its size fool you. Although they’re big in size, they’re actually quite mild in flavor and are less pungent than regular garlic. If you’re looking for something more flavorful, then you’ll love our Black Garlic. Aged for a month in a special fermentation process under high heat, black garlic boasts a soft melt-in-your-mouth texture and sweet molasses-like rich flavor with tangy garlic undertones. We promise you won’t have tasted anything like this before!

Roasted Lemon Garlic Chicken

Yields: 3-4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3-4 large chicken thighs
  • 4 organic lemons or seedless lemons, cut into rounds
  • 1 large onion, cut into wedges
  • 4 cloves of organic garlic, minced
  • 6 cloves of organic garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 lb of sliced bacon
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 1/2 cup of chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon of minced fresh thyme
  • 2 bunches of fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Rinse the chicken under cold running water and use paper towels to pat the chicken dry.

2. In a bowl, combine the butter, minced garlic, minced thyme, lemon zest and salt and pepper.

3. Add salt and pepper to the outside of the chicken. Rub the herb butter under the skin and on the outside of the chicken.

4. Set the chicken skin side down onto a cast-iron or roasting pan. Scatter the garlic cloves, onion wedges and lemon rounds around the pan. Add 1/2 cup of water to the pan.

5. Roast the chicken for around 30 minutes. Then remove from the oven and use kitchen tongs to turn the chicken skin side up. Add another 1/2 cup of water and roast for around 20 minutes until the meat is cooked.

6. Once finished cooking, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside

7. Make a gravy by taking the pan with the remaining chicken juices and scrape up any remaining browned bits. Spoon off any fat on top. Add chicken stock to the pan and cook over medium high heat. Once finished cooking, place the chicken thighs back into the pan and serve with the gravy.

Easter Brunch Casserole

Savory breakfast casserole next to wooden spoon

Easter Sunday always calls for a fancy celebration. This springtime holiday is an affair best enjoyed in the daytime with Easter egg hunts for the kids, followed by a festive brunch among family and friends. On the menu you’ll most likely find classic breakfast favorites such as Pixie Tangerine Crepes, Carrot and Pineapple Cake or Asparagus and Artichoke Quiches. Anything that can feed a crowd without taking up too much time in the kitchen is optimal for putting together a fabulous mid-morning feast. We can’t resist a scrumptious casserole for a buffet-style meal and this Easter-inspired Casserole has the wonderful flavors of the perfect brunch. Think of it as a savory breakfast bread pudding, filled with sausage, cheese, eggs and all that good stuff. However, the secret is in the ramps, which is exactly what springtime eating tastes like. Make this dish ahead of time, preferably the night before and simply pop into the oven during your Easter egg hunt. For other amazing Easter-worthy recipes, check out our menu.

Raw Organic Green Ramps

So let’s talk about ramps. Although similar in appearance, they’re neither leeks nor scallions. Ramps are a wild vegetable with a pungent, woodsy aroma and a strong onion and garlic flavor. Most of its great flavor lies in the white bulb but the greens are also quite tasty as well. These vegetables have a very short seasonality and are limited in quantity, making them one of the most highly coveted items of the season among chefs and foodies. Much buzz has surrounded ramps over the past few decades and for good reason too. If you can get your hands on them, don’t hesitate to get creative with these springtime treasures. They pair especially well with all sorts of recipes such as a Ramp, Heirloom Tomato and Cream Cheese Frittata,  Scalloped Gemstone Potatoes with Caramelized Ramps, Ramp Pesto Crostini and more.

Easter Brunch Casserole 

Yields: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 baguette, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 8 oz of pork or turkey sausage, crumbled
  • 2 ramps, chopped (If ramps are unavailable, substitute with leeks or scallions)
  • 6 large eggs and 6 large egg whites
  • 1 and 3/4 cups of whole milk
  • 2 cups of Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • Fresh basil or chives, chopped
  • Cooking spray

1. In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium heat for around 10 minutes until browned. Remove from the heat and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, egg whites, salt and pepper.

3. Combine the egg mixture with the sausage, ramps, 1 and 1/4 cup of cheese and bread. Toss together, making sure all the ingredients are well mixed together.

4. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.

5. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the covering and add the rest of the cheddar cheese to the top of the casserole.

6. Bake the casserole for around 30 to 35 minutes until the top has lightly browned.