11 Melina Hammer Recipes With 5-Star Ratings From Our Community

Dishes that are as delicious as they are beautiful.

March 20, 2023
Photo by Melina Hammer

If you’re familiar with my recipes—if not, welcome!—you probably know that I tend to focus on seasonal fare, with an emphasis on plant-based, locally grown ingredients (sometimes even from my own garden). With such an emphasis on produce, many of my recipes are perfect for the arrival of spring. Think: Asparagus and Fava Beans With Tonnato or Pickled Peaches With Burrata Toasts, a dish that’s ideal for firmer, earlier-in-the-season fruit.

With spring officially in swing, here are 11 of my favorite recipes for warmer-weather eating—each one of ‘em with a five-star rating from the Food52 community—complete with an invitation to add them to your own repertoire.

1. Creamed King Trumpet Mushrooms & Spring Onions

This dish is dreamy, delicious, and so versatile. I purposely made it so you (really me) could serve it over pasta, but no one would bat an eyelash if you wanted to spoon the mushroom and melty onion combo over toast. Put an egg on top and it becomes the best breakfast—or breakfast for dinner. The creamed onions and mushrooms are also equally at home alongside a protein, such as grilled meat or roast chicken. Best part? You can swap scallions or another mushroom variety for as delicious a result, and it comes together in a jiff.

2. Speedy Sausage Ragù With Crispy Garlic

Thanks to chorizo, tomato paste, and anchovies, this ragù delivers a supremely savory experience and earns its place as a regular-rotation kind of meal. Once the flavors meld, the sauce gets even better (gentle nudge: make a double batch and freeze some for later). Crispy garlic chips add a key textural contrast that take this dish to a whole other level. I’ve said I need to make this again for a long time now—everyone groaned happily as they devoured it the first time around. I’m adding it to this weekend’s plans for another hurrah, and I can’t wait.

3. Cherry, Orange & Rye Hand Pies

These pastries are so darn cute, just seeing them on a platter or peeking out of a tin feels special. The filling strikes the perfect sweet-tart note—a foil to the tender, glittery pastry crust. Swap in other seasonal jams to make these hand pies all year long (they make a great picnic tagalong). Hot tip: Once you’ve made and frozen a batch, you can bake them as you like, whenever the need—or desire—arises.

4. Crispy Potatoes with Garlic Mustard Pesto

What is there to say about this recipe? Put simply, these are the best potatoes ever. They’re a hit no matter what you pair them with, but definitely don’t skip the pesto. Nutty and bright, this sauce is everything you want to slather over fluffy, crispy potatoes. It also happens to make good use of invasive garlic mustard (which outcompetes most native spring greens) that thankfully is quite delicious. If you aren’t familiar with garlic mustard, check out my book, A Year at Catbird Cottage, for a primer, or use your favorite pesto for similarly tasty results.

5.Honeynut Squash Frittata With Red Onion & Sage

It’s true: This is the frittata recipe that actually made me love frittatas. The eggy mixture is fluffy and abundant, with a fantastic combination of flavors (and textures, too). It’s one of those recipes that is adaptable to whatever ingredients you have available; serve up this frittata any time of day, any time of year.

6. Salmon Coulibiac With Dilly Sour Cream

Admittedly, this is a statement dish or a weekend project, but the effort you put in delivers a showstopping feast. Want a dazzling main course for Easter? Trying to impress mom for Mother’s Day? The crisp, golden puff pastry yields to layers of tender cooked shallots, salmon, and the delightful surprise of whole-grain mustard, flecked onto warm rice and hearty greens. Oh, and don’t forget the herby sour cream. Even if you don’t have a crowd to feed, the layers are so beautiful to behold it’s worth making for you and you alone.

7. Steak Salad With Garlic-Anchovy Vinaigrette

A quick, umami-packed dressing marries buttery avocado and steak in this salad that practically makes itself. It’s one of those easy-peasy meals that requires little else besides great, fresh ingredients and a quick sear in a hot pan. An ideal summer dish, it’s ready in less than 20 minutes, freeing you up to spend more time enjoying the outdoors.

8. Asparagus & Fava Beans With Tonnato

When I think of do-it-all sauces, tonnato is always on the list. Whether dolloped onto fresh or steamed veggies, slathered on toast, tossed through pasta, or even spooned over a frittata, tonnato rises to every occasion. Bonus: To make it, all you need are pantry staples. Here, it’s served with snappy spring veggies, but anything juicy and fresh can be swapped in.

9. Pickled Peaches With Burrata Toasts

Pickled peaches may sound unusual (and they kind of are), but adding them to summer menus brings complexity and joy. This recipe is my go-to when I encounter firm fruit at the market—firmness is actually a benefit here, giving a proper pickle-crunch when added to summery salads, or paired with succulent grilled meats. Another favorite: Simply eat them from the jar, piled next to a sliced baguette or toast, and smeared with creamy cheese.

10. Tomato & Cucumber Salad With Fried Capers

I love how this dish makes use of summer’s stars: refreshing cucumbers and dazzling, colorful tomatoes. The whole thing comes together in less than 10 minutes; all that needs doing—besides chopping and slicing the veg—is pan-frying capers in a drizzle of olive oil. What results is a crunchy, salty garnish that's so good, you’ll find yourself frying capers and adding them to everything.

11.Peach, Bacon & Tahini Toasts

I dreamt up this combo one day while I was thinking about all the textures and flavor notes I love, and wanting to eat quickly without spending much time in the kitchen so I could get back in the gardens at my Catbird Cottage. The elements harmonize beautifully. If you’re skeptical, just make these colorful flavor-packed toasts and see for yourself. Crispy bacon, a sheen of tahini, and peak-ripe peaches on crunchy toast. This utterly simple dish delivers sheer bliss.

What’s your favorite Melina Hammer recipe? Let us know in the comments!

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Melina is the author of 'A Year at Catbird Cottage' with Ten Speed Press. She grows an heirloom and pollinator garden and forages wild foods at her namesake Hudson Valley getaway, Catbird Cottage. Melina loves serving curated menus for guests from near and far seeking community amidst the hummingbirds, grosbeaks, finches, and the robust flavors of the seasons.