This method submerges vegetables, fruits, and even nuts in boiling water for just a few seconds; the technique keeps foods brightly colored and firm, retains vitamins, and, with fruits and nuts, loosens peels for removal. To blanch, bring a large pot of water (for veggies, add a little salt) to a rapid boil over high heat. Add food and cook for 30 seconds to 2 minutes—color should be bright—then remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Remove food when cooled, about 1 minute. Best for: Green vegetables and herbs, tomatoes, peaches, nuts

Blanched Asparagus with Lemon-Tahini Dressing

Serves 4 / Chilled asparagus blanketed in a creamy sauce—the perfect start to a summer meal. Serving tip: Set out as an appetizer with more blanched vegetables, or accompany with dishes of black olives, cubed feta cheese, fresh figs, and toasted nuts. View the Blanched Asparagus with Lemon-Tahini recipe