Frozen fruits and vegetables star in these 9 sweet and savory recipes

(Scott Suchman for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

For anyone who lives by the adage that fresh is always best, it’s time to set the record straight.

As staff writer Becky Krystal wrote in her primer on frozen vegetables: “What you can find in the freezer section during the offseason is often better than what’s in the fresh produce section. Food meant to be frozen is picked at optimal ripeness and processed, often within hours of coming out of the field. That means it can beat out items trucked in from far away in terms of both taste and carbon footprint, especially for vegetables brought up in winter from the Southern Hemisphere.” And the same is true for fruit.

Frozen vegetables are so easy to cook with — and they’re much better than you think

While improved flavor and reduced environmental impact are great, what I love most about frozen produce is its convenience. For example, cherries are already pitted; artichoke hearts are prepped; and butternut squash is peeled, seeded and cubed — saving you precious time in getting food on the table. The most important thing to consider when using frozen produce is whether it should be thawed before using. Recipes should specify, but in general it comes down to whether the moisture released by the frozen fruits or vegetables will make a difference, such as thinning the sauce for a curry.

Frozen produce can be used in all sorts of dishes. The desserts, soup, tempura and other recipes listed below are just a small sampling of what frozen fruits and vegetables can do. Head to the Recipe Finder for more ideas.

Mixed Berry Custard Pie

Pictured above. Turn to this quick and easy pie whenever you want a taste of summer. Use any combination of berries you wish to suit your tastes. Get the recipe.

Savory Chicken Sausage and Vegetable Cobbler

Feel free to use whatever frozen vegetables you have on hand to make this savory chicken cobbler. It’s topped with refrigerated biscuit dough for even more convenience. Get the recipe.

Crispy Frozen Vegetable Tempura

Turn the vegetables of your choosing into crisp fritters with this recipe. Serve with lemon wedges and a simple sauce of soy sauce, Dijon mustard and chili crisp for dipping. Get the recipe.

There’s a wide world of chili crisp. These are our favorites.

Cherry Clafoutis

Using defrosted cherries saves you the trouble of pitting the fruit, making this classic French dessert that much easier to assemble. Get the recipe.

Gnocchi With Creamy Spinach Sauce

This recipe was inspired by the classic steakhouse side of creamed spinach. For a more luxurious sauce, thaw the spinach and remove excess moisture by squeezing it in a dish towel or pressing it with a spoon or spatula in a mesh strainer. Get the recipe.

Canned vegetables add flavor and convenience to these vibrant recipes

Better Than Takeout Fried Rice

Fried rice is a great vehicle for using any sort of produce you have on hand. Use this recipe as a template to make the dish exactly the way you want it. Get the recipe.

Any-Fruit Cobbler

This recipe comes from “Bon Appétit, Y’all,” by chef, cookbook author and Southern food expert Virginia Willis. Willis writes that stone fruit and berries work particularly well here, although she is not a fan of cooked strawberries. Get the recipe.

Spicy Peanut Soba Noodles With Green Beans

This pantry-friendly recipe stars a spicy peanut sauce to toss with soba noodles and green beans. Get the recipe.

Easy pantry recipes for quick and thrifty meals

Coconut Corn Soup With Chili Crisp

Use frozen corn kernels to make this satisfying corn soup any time of the year. Serve with chili crisp for a sweet and spicy bowl of comfort. Get the recipe.