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Food & Recipes

Food Network Chef Molly Yeh Shares Her Top Secrets For Making Fast, Easy Summer Meals

Her clever hacks amp up the flavor, while cutting down on the work.


As host of the beloved Food Network show Girl Meets Farm and author of three cookbooks, Molly Yeh knows a thing or two about entertaining. Yeh, who lives on a farm on the Minnesota-North Dakota border with her husband, a fifth-generation farmer, and their two young daughters, pulls from an eclectic variety of influences in her cooking. Molly Yeh recipes are known for combining homegrown ingredients with influences from her Chinese-Jewish heritage and colorful flourishes. Her latest project is a limited-edition Blue Apron box featuring a spread that’s made especially for summer entertaining. Here, Yeh shared her delicious tips for keeping her warm weather celebrations festive yet low-key.

1. Try “Choose-Your-Own-Adventure” Recipes

Yeh embraces versatility in her cooking. The centerpiece of her Blue Apron box is a burger bar that offers a variety of tasty customization options (think crispy onions, cucumber salad and a selection of sauces). Being a mom has given her a new appreciation of meals with a “DIY, choose-your-own-adventure element,” she says. Her kids are picky eaters, and she notes that with these customizable dishes, “I know my kids can have the most basic, plain version of what we’re having while my husband and I have the most sauce-y, vegetable-y loaded version.”

Burgers on counter
Molly Yeh’s burgers are fun for the whole family.Courtesy of Blue Apron

Another good way to avoid stress when entertaining for Father’s Day, the 4th of July or any other warm weather occasion? Prepare whatever you can in advance and make dishes that are tasty at any temperature. She says noodle salads and slaws are particularly good for this purpose: “You can make them, then not feel stressed about keeping them hot or cold,” she says. “Room temperature food is underrated, in my opinion.”

2. Let Your Heritage Spark Inspiration

Yeh was born to a Chinese father and a Jewish mother, both of whom have a “crazy excitement for food,” and both sides of her family come through in her cooking. “My heritage is my number one source of inspiration,” she says. “I love digging into old cookbooks and recipe boxes and talking to relatives and learning about what they like to cook and grew up with.” Honoring your family’s unique background with food feels particularly apt for Father’s Day — Yeh’s recipes for pot stickers and Chinese noodles take inspiration from her dad, and she finds comfort in “building a Chinese-Jewish pantry.” 

Because Yeh lives in a remote area, she’s had to adapt to some of the limitations: “When it comes to Jewish cuisine, we don’t have delis or even a bagel shop where I live. I had to learn how to make bagels,” she says. “So in order for my kids to experience these foods that are so special to me, I’ve got to make them from scratch.” No matter your background, making recipes that reflect your family’s heritage is a beautiful way to pay tribute to them and introduce the little ones to exciting new flavors.

3. Lean On Your Favorite Cooking Hacks

Yeh may cook for a living, but her priorities are familiar to any home chef. “I love any shortcut that cuts down on dishes,” she says. To that end, one of her favorite cooking hacks is using a hot, just-cooked bowl of noodles to cook vegetables. This can be found in the Peanut Noodles With Bok Choy included with her Blue Apron kit — the just-cooked noodles quickly soften the crunchy veggie, making for a perfect bite.

The chef also has strong feelings about crafting the ideal burger. “The difference between a good burger and a great burger is the amount of seasoning added,” she says. “Take that extra attention to season the meat. And you want to make sure your skillet is really hot, so you can get that crust which amplifies the flavor.”

4. Opt for Ingredients That Do Double (Or Triple) Duty

Like many of us, Yeh is passionate about avoiding food waste wherever possible. One of her tricks, which she first learned from her mom, is preserving herbs in ice cube trays. She even bases her recipe development around reducing waste. She explains: “I came up with a cabbage slaw recipe because anytime I’d make pot stickers I’d end up with half a head of cabbage and be like ‘What am I going to do with this?’ So the pot stickers and cabbage slaw became a way to use up a whole cabbage.” 

Noodles and cabbage slaw on counter
Cabbage slaw and noodles — two of Molly Yeh’s favorite dishes.Courtesy of Blue Apron

Finding ingredients that can do double (or triple or quadruple!) duty is always valuable. Yeh is a big fan of tahini, the Middle Eastern condiment made from ground sesame seeds. “I love it in both savory and sweet dishes,” she says, noting that she’s used it in everything from salad dressings to pies. She’s also devoted to yogurt (she even wrote a whole book on the subject!) “If you’re out of any other dairy product, chances are good you can substitute it with Greek yogurt,” she says.

With Yeh’s clever tips for making food prep simple, delightful and — most importantly — yummy, you’ll be well-equipped to have the Father’s Day barbecue, long weekend brunch or family dinner of your dreams this summer. 

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