May is the first month where it really starts to feel like summer around the country, and our web members seem to think so too. Based on overall pageviews, the most popular recipes this month fit the soon-to-be-summer theme, with fruity desserts, seafood dishes, and oven-fried French fries for those not-quite-hot-enough-yet-to-grill nights. Check out the top six from this month, and then check out this collection that lists all top 25.
1. The Best Lemon Bars
For lemon bars with sweet-tart flavor and a crisp, well-browned crust, we started at the bottom. Our pat-in-the-pan crust is made with melted—not cold—butter and can therefore be stirred together instead of requiring a food processor. For a truly crisp texture, we used granulated sugar instead of the usual confectioners' sugar and baked the crust until it was dark golden brown to ensure that it retained its crispness even after we topped it with the lemon filling.
We cooked our lemon filling on the stove to shorten the oven time and keep it from curdling or browning at the edges as it baked. The combination of lemon juice and lemon zest provides complex flavor, and a couple of teaspoons of cream of tartar (tartaric acid) give it a bright, lingering finish. [GET THE RECIPE]
2. Thick-Cut Oven Fries
When traditional French fries are fried, water is rapidly driven out of the starch cells at the surface of the potato, leaving behind tiny cavities. It's these cavities that create a delicate, crispy crust. Since oven fries don't heat fast enough for air pockets to form, we instead coat the potatoes in a cornstarch slurry that crisps up like a deep-fried fry would. We arranged the coated planks on a rimmed baking sheet that we coated with both vegetable oil spray and vegetable oil; the former contains a surfactant called lecithin, which prevents the oil from pooling and, in turn, prevents the potatoes from sticking. Using the oil spray also allowed us to use only 3 tablespoons of oil, just enough to evenly coat the fries. Covering the baking sheet with aluminum foil for the first half of cooking ensures that the potatoes are fully tender by the time they are browned. [GET THE RECIPE]
3. Brazilian Shrimp and Fish Stew (Moqueca)
For a bright, fresh, and filling version of this traditional Brazilian stew, we started with the seafood. Cod and shrimp made for a nice balance of flavor and texture, and both were easy to find. After tossing the seafood with garlic, salt, and pepper, we looked to the other components of the stew. To balance the richness and sweetness of the coconut milk with the bright, fresh flavor of the aromatics, we blended the onion, the tomatoes, and a portion of the cilantro in the food processor until they had the texture of a slightly chunky salsa, which added body to the stew. We kept the bell peppers diced for contrasting texture and bite. To ensure that the seafood was properly cooked, we brought the broth to a boil to make sure the pot was superhot, added the seafood and lime juice, covered the pot, and removed it from the heat, allowing the seafood to gently cook in the residual heat. To finish our moqueca, we added more cilantro and a couple of tablespoons of homemade pepper sauce, which elevated the stew with its bright, vinegary tang. [GET THE RECIPE]
4. Linguine with Seafood (Linguine allo Scoglio)
To create a seafood pasta dish with rich, savory seafood flavor in every bite (not just in the pieces of shellfish), we made a sauce with clam juice and four minced anchovies, which fortified the juices shed by the shellfish. Cooking the shellfish in a careful sequence—adding hardier clams and mussels first and then adding the shrimp and squid during the final few minutes of cooking—ensured that every piece was plump and tender. We parboiled the linguine and then finished cooking it directly in the sauce; the noodles soaked up flavor while shedding starches that thickened the sauce so that it clung well to the pasta. Fresh cherry tomatoes, lots of garlic, fresh herbs, and lemon made for a bright, clean, complex-tasting sauce. [GET THE RECIPE]
5. Vegan Pinto Bean–Beet Burgers
Looking for a modern twist on the typical bean burger, we combined pinto beans with vibrant shredded beets, and we also packed in a generous amount of basil leaves. The result was a substantial but fresh-tasting burger with some sweetness from the beets and the bright, complementary aroma of basil. We incorporated bulgur for heft and ground nuts for meaty richness. Garlic and mustard deepened the savory flavors. While the bulgur cooked, we pulsed the other ingredients in the food processor to just the right consistency. To bind the burgers, we turned to a surprising ingredient: carrot baby food. The carrot added tackiness, and its subtle sweetness heightened that of the shredded beets; plus, it was already conveniently pureed. Panko bread crumbs further bound the mixture and helped the patties sear up with a crisp crust. [GET THE RECIPE]
6. Chocolate Cream Pie
There’s no better match for our tender, flaky pie crust than a chocolate cream filling. For a deeply chocolaty mixture that is not too heavy, we make a milk-based cocoa pudding and then whisk in bittersweet chocolate, along with vanilla for extra depth. A few tablespoons of butter help the filling set up with a silky consistency once it is poured into the prebaked pie shell and refrigerated. Finally, we finish off the pie with a complementary topping of lightly sweetened whipped cream. [GET THE RECIPE]
Want to see the rest of our top 25? Check out our Most Popular America’s Test Kitchen Recipes in May collection.
Interested in other recipe collections? Check these out:
- Most Popular America’s Test Kitchen Recipes in April
- The Best Recipes for the Start of Summer
- The Best Brunch Recipes for Any Occasion
- The Best Side Dishes for Your Summer Picnic