It’s the time of year when you just want to keep the stove completely, totally off. And who can blame you? When the produce is gleaming so brightly at the farmer’s market it’s practically a jewelry shop, you want to do as little cooking as possible. So look to the best of canned and jarred products to help cut down on the time you spend in the kitchen, and spend more time outside.
Whether layered into bright, raw salads, fried, braised, or steamed, artichoke hearts are a delight, but a lot of work to get to on your own, in the home kitchen. Consider the canned version, stored in water. They’re delicious, and just the thing for this pizza with olives and pepperoni.
It’s worth remembering that cannellini beans can serve as both star protein or bit player, as needed. You can briefly cook them with lemon, sage and garlic or fold them into cold salads, but you can also serve them as a side dish. In this grilled chicken recipe, they make a protein-packed cameo. There are a ton of good brands on the market; just be sure to rinse your beans of any sludge from the can before eating.
Anchovies simply do not get enough credit. Not only do they take the classic Caesar salad into knockout territory, they’re a secret player in many chicken dishes, lots of Asian cuisines—fish sauce contains anchovies—and all sorts of other places. It’s the rare food where you can spend a lot of money for the high-end product or simply shell a couple bucks for a small tin, and depending on your needs, you’ll be happy regardless. Do remember to store them in the fridge, as they’re what’s called a semi-conserva, and aren’t quite as shelf-stable as you might think. These simple bocadillos, or Spanish sandwiches, showcase their salty, funky charms nestled alongside roasted red pepper, fresh tomatoes and queso fresco.
Don’t forget about good old tuna. The perennial favorite is perfect in sandwiches, sure but also beautiful bread salads like the one above. In tuna Niçoise salads, it joins white beans, lemon zest, garlic and fresh herbs for simple, room-temperature salads.
Sure, you could roast, cover, carefully peel, and de-seed your own bell peppers. But we’d argue that one of the smartest time-savers around is to buy the high-quality jarred version, which can compete with the kind you make yourself. It often sneaks in at a lower price point, to boot. Consider them for spontaneous weeknight sausage-and-onion sandwiches or this gorgeous roast beef-Havarti number.
Once you start playing around with it in the home kitchen, you begin to realize that yes, coconut milk is the star ingredient in some of your favorite dishes. It’s there in curries and your favorite Indian dishes, Thai specialties such as khao soi, and soups like this gorgeous carrot purée. Keep it on hand to diminish the spiciness of any Asian you made a bit too spicy; a splash will usually balance the heat.
If you have ham, butter, and bread, add pickles, lay it all on a platter and have a French feast. (You don’t even need to have prosciutto or some fancy charcuterie; just rumple thin slices of ham.) Same goes for rillettes or duck liver mousse, baguette, radishes, cheese, and really any other sort of al fresco platter situation.
Pickles brighten and tart up a wide range of flavors. They’re precisely what you need alongside creamy cheese or fatty meats, whether they’re tiny cornichons from a jar, elegant pickled okra, or fat dill pickles you made yourself. Try to remember to keep a jar handy so you can make even the plainest cheese and cracker plate that much more appealing.