Mini Berry Pavlovas

Pavlova cake with fresh summer berries

You know summer really begins when the 4th of July festivities kick off! From the feasting to the fireworks to the family time, Independence Day is where the party is at. The weather is beautiful this time of the year so we usually have no problems taking the celebrations outdoors with a good old-fashioned cookout. From a delicious patriotic potato salad to a festive American Flag Pie, we’ve got no shortage of red, white and blue recipes to help celebrate the nation’s independence in style. Last year, we did some pretty adorable summer berry parfaits, and we’re thinking of dessert again this year in the form of Mini Berry Pavlovas. Light and airy homemade merengue shells are the perfect vehicle for its fresh fruit and cream filling. Pavlovas are such an elegant and underrated confection with its crisp yet soft texture with a delicate flavor that’s complemented by the sweet, tartness of summer’s finest berries.

Fresh berries

Plump, juicy gems that are equally delicious as they are gorgeous, many berries are at their peak during the summertime. Their intense sweetness and luscious texture make them an easy snack to munch on. A much more nutritious option than candy, berries offer a lovely sweetness and succulent texture that goes delicious with all sorts of recipes. They’re full of antioxidants and vitamins and are worth their weight in health benefits, making them some of nature’s best superfoods all around. From the commonly found blueberries and raspberries to the more unique finds such as goldenberries (also known as cape gooseberries), we offer a wide seasonal selection that’s bound to fit your culinary needs. Toss them into a scrumptious Challah French Toast, Breakfast Quinoacrepes and other sweet treats.

Mini Berry Pavlovas

Yields: 8 servings


For the pavlovas

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup of white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon of white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the topping

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

2. Use an electric mixer to whip the egg whites until soft peaks begin to form. Slowly add in the white granulated sugar while the mixer is still running.

3. When the mixture has thickened and become glossy, fold in the pistachios, cornstarch and vanilla extract.

4. Using a spatula, divide the mixture into 8 equally sized mounds, while making sure to shape a small well in the center of each mound. Space these mounds about 1 inch apart.

5. Bake the pavlovas for about 1 hour. When they are finished baking, they should look slightly browned at the sides and dry to the touch. Leave them in the oven with the oven door open and allow for them to cool completely.

6. While the pavlovas are cooling, prepare your pastry cream or vanilla pudding according to the package instructions.

7. Spoon a dollop of your filling into each pavlova. Top with the raspberries and blueberries. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and serve immediately. Do not refrigerate.

Papaya Banana Smoothie

Papaya smoothie, selective focus. Detox, diet food.

June is National Papaya Month! With the summer kicking off soon, it’s no wonder this month is dedicated to celebrating all of the wonderful things this tropical fruit has to offer. Native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, papaya is enjoyed all around the world for its health benefits, versatility and of course, delicious flavor. This superfood is incredibly rich in vitamins, calcium, antioxidants, potassium and more and also helps aid in healthy digestion. Papaya and bananas combined are nothing short of a nutritional powerhouse which is why this Papaya Banana Smoothie couldn’t be more fitting for commemorating this food holiday. It’s not only scrumptious but also filling enough to curb those morning or afternoon cravings and keep your tummy happy until lunch or dinner time. Both papayas and bananas are not quite as sweet as say, berries or grapes, and benefit from the addition of a little extra honey or vanilla extract in this smoothie.


If you’re unfamiliar with papayas, then you’re in for a real treat this time of the year! Papayas have an irresistibly sweet yet musky flavor and a soft, buttery texture. Once sliced open, you’ll notice an abundance of small, black seeds which are entirely edible though quite sharp and peppery in taste. When ripe, papaya is often eaten raw either out of hand or incorporated fresh into salads such as this Shrimp Salad with Caribbean Red Papaya or Papaya Jicama Watermelon Salad. When unripe, papaya can be cooked and added to dishes such as stews, curries or stir-fries. Here at Melissa’s, we currently have a few special varieties available for a limited season. One of our newest additions comes all the way from Belize–the Caribbean Red Papaya. This large variety boasts a melon-like flavor, fragrant aroma and is incredibly sweet. Another deliciously sweet variety we’re head over heels for are Strawberry Papayas. Their gorgeous salmon-red to pink flesh is considered one of the sweetest and most flavorful of all papayas and has a fragrant, juicy flavor with a hint of fresh peaches and berries. Check out some of our other seasonal papaya varieties and try them all!

Papaya Banana Smoothie

Yields: 1 serving


1. Start by preparing the fruit. Peel and seed the papaya and then chop into large chunks. Peel and slice the banana.

2. Combine the fruit with the milk, ice cubes and honey in a blender. Blender together until smooth.

3. Pour into a large mason jar or glass and serve fresh.

Seafood Cioppino

Homemade Italian Seafood Cioppino

Father’s Day is right around the corner and what better way to celebrate that other special man in your life than with a tasty home-cooked meal? When it comes to Dad, we have much to be grateful for and this summer holiday is all about celebrating all that he’s done for us over the years. This year, we’re making it our goal to win his heart at the dinner table with this secret weapon–Seafood Cioppino. Hailing all the way from San Francisco, Cioppino is an Italian-American classic dish. Often made with fresh fish from the catch of the day, this fisherman’s stew also features shrimp, clams, scallops, mussels, squid and other items from the sea. You’ll want to choose any firm fish that can hold up well during the cooking process such as halibut, sea bass or snapper but salmon will also work beautifully as well. The seafood is simmered in a white wine and seafood broth along with fresh tomatoes and then served alongside hearty toasted bread for dipping. Now this is no ordinary cioppino; this is the one cioppino to rule them all. The secret is in the addition of our Mini San Marzano Tomatoes which give this recipe a uniquely sweet flavor unlike any other seafood stew you’ll find.

ripe tomatoes on black marble

No cioppino is quite complete without the sweet and rich flavors Mini San Marzano Tomatoes have to offer. This variety can be traced back to the small town of San Marzano near Naples, Italy and is a hot house grown with year round availability. These wonderfully petite jewels are an heirloom variety of Roma Tomato and are known to be naturally sweeter and meatier than regular tomatoes with a stronger flavor. They also have less seeds and a low acidity, making them particularly easy to work with and popular among chefs and home cooks alike. For another easy and refreshing summer dish, you can use them as part of a Ceviche or salad. They are also excellent roasted or incorporated into soups, sauces, salsas and more.

Seafood Cioppino

Yields: 6-8 servings


  • 1 and 1/2 lbs of firm, skinless fish fillets such as halibut, sea bass, salmon or snapper
  • 1 lb of uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 lb of manila clams, scrubbed
  • 1 lb of mussels, scrubbed
  • 1 package of Melissa’s Mini San Marzano Tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cups of fish stock
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of dry white wine
  • 1 and 1/4 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup of tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh basil
  • Toasted baguette or hearty bread

1. In a large pot, heat up the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions, shallots and some of the salt. Sauté for around 8 to 10 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes and sauté for another 3 minutes.

2. Add the chopped Mini San Marzano tomatoes, tomato paste, white wine and fish stock. Throw in the bay leaf.

3. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for around 30 minutes.

4. After about 30 minutes, add the clams and mussels and allow to cook for around 5 minutes. Add the fish and shrimp and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat when the clams and mussels have opened up and the fish and shrimp and completely cooked.

5. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add in the parsley. Add more red pepper flakes if desired. Ladle the seafood cioppino into individual bowls and garnish with fresh basil. Serve alongside toasted slices of baguette or hearty bread.

Celebrate National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month

Assorted Fruits and Vegetables Background

Celebrate National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month

June is National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month and we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate! From berries to melons to chile peppers, fresh produce is plentiful and happening during these summer months. This national food holiday was enacted to encourage everyone to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their daily diet. With all the wonderful options available now and in the upcoming summer months, it won’t be too much of a challenge. Fresh fruits and vegetables are not only delicious but they also offer us many beneficial nutrients our bodies require such as vitamins, potassium, calcium, fiber and much more. Among other health benefits, it can also aid in weight control and disease prevention. This is one of the best times of the year to take advantage of the delectable bounty nature has to offer us. As our way of paying homage to this healthy holiday, here are some of our favorite garden-fresh recipes featuring the season’s best and most popular fruits and vegetables.

BlogPost_CelebrateNationalFruitsandVegetablesMonth_1Sweetheart Lobster Slaw

When it comes to throwing an outdoor summer party, cole slaw is a must-have. And even for those who aren’t big fans of cole slaw, they will be after a taste of this one. Sweetheart Lobster Slaw is our fun little seafood twist on a picnic classic. Freshly cooked lobster meat tossed with with crisp Kool Cabbage and red cabbage and refreshing mini cucumbers, this crunchy seafood slaw is a hero in our books! Its sweet, light mayo, strawberry and rice vinegar dressing helps to bring out the freshness of the ingredients and help their flavors truly sing.


Pixie Tangerine and Baby Red Beet Salad

Did you know that citrus and beets go together like peanut butter and jelly? The earthiness of the beets paired with the sweet, acidity of the citrus makes for a divine combination. This recipe brings together our Organic Peeled and Steamed Baby Beets and Ojai Pixie Tangerines into a simple yet delicious salad and is finished with a delectable citrus vinaigrette. If Ojai Pixies are unavailable, you may use Gold Nugget Tangerines or any other of your favorite citrus. Garnish with a little crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese for an extra salty bite.

Panzanella SaladPanzanella salad with cubes of crusty bread and tomatoes

Panzanella is a traditional 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. It’s a classic tomato and bread salad, in a nutshell, and can be eaten as a light lunch or dinner. Make sure to choose a robust, chewy bread with a crunchy crust so that it’ll hold up against the juices of the heirloom tomatoes.

BlogPost_CelebrateNationalFruitsandVegetablesMonth_4Potato, Cucumber and Dill Salad

This is no ordinary potato salad. Picture this–Baby Ruby Gold® Potatoes mixed with crisp organic mini cucumbers and fresh baby heirloom tomatoes. Tell us, does that or does that not sound like a dream come true? This salad is gently tossed with a cool and creamy Greek Yogurt and sour cream dressing and is every bit as refreshing as it is delicious. Baby Ruby Gold® Potatoes have a light and subtle flavor but if you prefer something a little more buttery, our Dutch Yellow® Potatoes make an outstanding substitute.

Challah French ToastFrench Toast and Fresh Berries

Summertime is all about the fresh berries. From raspberries to blueberries to blackberries and more, Melissa’s offers many enticing seasonal varieties. Berries add a heavenly touch to many dishes from desserts to breakfasts such as this Challah French toast. Similar to brioche bread, challah is characterized by its eggy, fluffy texture and slightly sweet flavor. The technique for putting this recipe together is fairly straightforward, as most French toast recipes are. However, it’s that irresistible combination of  pillow soft challah bread, whipped cream and fresh berries that takes breakfast or Sunday Brunch to the next level.

BlogPost_CelebrateNationalFruitsandVegetablesMonth_6Summertime Green Lychee Spritzer

Many tropical fruits are available year-round but are especially delicious in the summertime. There’s nothing quite like the luscious taste of lychees during warm weather especially in a simple summer spritzer. Spritzers are incredibly easy to make and only require a few ingredients–water, organic blue agave syrup and your favorite fruits. The delicately sweet and aromatic flavor of the lychees really take this drink to the next level and is best served over ice as an afternoon refresher.

Kale and Farro Salad with Feta and CranberriesKale and Farro Salad

If you’re looking for something both meatless, filling and delicious, then look no further than this kale and farro salad. Ancient grains such as farro, barley and quinoa have been taking up the culinary world by a storm and make a wonderful base in a hearty, filling salad. This year, we’re including this trend into our Lenten recipe repertoire with our scrumptious Kale and Farro Salad. The combination of chewy, nutty farro, crunchy, leafy kale and sweet, tart dried cranberries is too tasty to eat only once a week. It’s finished off with a tossing of extra-virgin olive oil and a squeeze of fresh citrus to brighten things up and bring this simple salad together. This dish is perfect as a side accompaniment to your main meal but its protein and nutrient-rich contents are also filling enough to stand on its own.

Zucchini noodles called zoodles with vegan bolognese and yeast flakesZucchini Noodles Bolognese 

What better way to celebrate National Fruits and Vegetables Month than with a dish that’s all about the fresh fruits and vegetables? For those times you’re craving a taste of a hearty pasta, zucchini noodles, also known as zoodles, are a wonderful guilt-free alternative and are as delicious as the real thing. All you need to do is get your hands on a handy spiralizer and then half the work is already finished! Finish it off with our quick and easy classic bolongese sauce, top it off with Melissa’s San Marzano Tomatoes.

Ingredient Spotlight: Veggie Sweets

Raw Organic Mini Sweet PeppersWith outdoor grilling season in full swing, our Veggie Sweets Mini Peppers definitely deserve a spot on this week’s Ingredient Spotlight. These peppers are available year-round but we especially love them in the summertime where we usually take the party or gathering outside. You may recognize them first and foremost by their adorable, petite size and then their brilliant assortment of colors from red to yellow to orange. Veggie Sweets are the miniature cousin of bell peppers with a similar mild taste, except smaller, sweeter and without much heat. Their snackable size, thin skin and pleasantly crisp texture makes them a convenient and versatile ingredient worthy of any outdoor BBQ. Plus, they’re incredibly fun to eat and are sure to brighten up even the simplest of summer dishes.

What to look for: Look for fresh Mini Peppers with a vibrant, bright color and a glossy finish. They should be firm and plump in texture. Avoid any peppers that appear to look shriveled or dull-looking.

Storage and prep: Veggie Sweets can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Luckily, they’re not too delicate in texture and are very easy to handle and work with. However, don’t leave them at room temperature for too long as they will eventually lose their crunchy texture quickly.

Uses and recipes: What to do with Veggie Sweets? The better question to ask is: what can you not do with Veggie Sweets? Popular for their small size, delicious flavor and gorgeous appearance, these mini peppers are great for both eating fresh out of hand or as an addition to other dishes. Serve them raw as part of a salad, crudité platter or pasta for extra crunch. You could also roast them whole with your favorite stuffings such as cheese, meats or grains. Although they have a thinner skin than larger bell peppers, they still hold up quite well during the cooking, roasting or grilling process. Once cooked, they also make a scrumptious addition to stews or soups.

BlogPost_IngredientSpotlight_1Grilled Veggie Sweet Salsa

Veggie Sweets combined with sweet corn, Yellow Crookneck Squash and Organic Roma Tomatoes make for a lively summer dish. It’s simple yet festive and incorporates plenty of this season’s best produce. Grilling the vegetables will help intensify their naturally delicious flavors and bring out an extra layer of sweetness. The ground Dried Oaxaca Chiles gives this salsa an unique kick of spice and heat. Serve alongside tortilla chips or sliced veggie sweet wedges for dipping. You could even serve this with with any tacos or burritos.


Fresh Veggie  Sweet and Mango Salsa

Because of their mild flavor, Veggie Sweets are delectable when eaten raw and make a great ingredient in salads and fresh salsa. Everyone loves a good mango salsa and this favorite of ours is no exception. Delicious fruits such as mangoes, pineapples, butterscotch pears, Granny Smith Apples make this more sweet than savory. However, the heat from the Habanero chiles give the salsa an exceptional and surprising kick of heat when you least expect it. Serve this with chips, veggie sweet wedges or on top of grilled fish.

BlogPost_IngredientSpotlightVeggieSweets_3Spicy Cowboy Caviar Filled Veggie Sweets

Veggie Sweets and cowboy caviar make one scrumptious combination! The petite size of Veggie Sweets make them great for stuffing with various fillings such as cheeses, salsas and more. All you need for this recipe along with fresh vegetables is Melissa’s Steamed Six Bean Medley which is a flavorful combination of white kidney, cranberry, white navy, red kidney, black-eyed and black beans. Stuff the Veggie Sweets with this salsa and top it off with a little bit of diced avocado for a pretty summer appetizer.


Spicy Cucumber and Veggie Sweet Salad

When it comes to summertime entertaining, a tasty salad is always a must-have. The sweet, mild Veggie Sweets paired with crisp, refreshing mini cucumbers get a surprisingly intense flash of heat from the addition of minced Serrano chiles. Serrano chiles are one of the hottest varieties of chiles commonly available and are commonly used in guacamole, pico de gallo and salsas. If you want to opt for a milder chile with a kick, feel free to substitute with jalapeño chiles instead.


BlogPost_IngredientSpotlightVeggieSweets_5Grilled Porterhouse Steaks with Grilled Veggie Sweets

Get ready for a tasty meat and potatoes affair! From juicy Porterhouse steaks to caramelized Cipolline Onions and grilled Veggie Swets and even grilled DYPs™, this recipe has all the makings of one fabulous dinner. Porterhouse steaks are quite a large cut of meat and can even make 2 servings depending on how hungry you and your dining companions are. If you prefer a different cut, we also have other steak recipes paired with Veggie Sweets such as Grilled Bone-in Rib-eye, Grilled Bone-in Veal Chops and Grilled Flank Steak.

BlogPost_IngredientSpotlightVeggieSweets_6Stuffed Roasted Veggie Sweets with Chipotle Red Bell Pepper Sauce

If you’re in the mood for something a little fancier than usual, then Veggie Sweets have just become your new best friend. These mini peppers are perfect for this exquisite seafood and cheese stuffing which are made with succulent shrimp and Langostinos. If Langostinos are unavailable, you can also substitute with lobster meat. This recipe is topped with our Fire Roasted Sweet Red Bell Pepper sauce that’s out-of-this-world good. While it does require quite a bit of ingredients, believe us when we say it’s well worth it!

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


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


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.