World’s Best(?) Lasagna

Well, those are some pretty big boasting words! “World’s Best” is maybe pushing it just a tad, but our dinner guests helped themselves to seconds and wiped their plates clean. OK, this lasagna powerhouse does take most of an afternoon, so be prepared to spend some time. But, oh how you will love it when dinner time rolls around. Your dining companions will be screaming for more, as did ours.

The back story is, John Chandler submitted this lasagna recipe to Allrecipes more than 20-some years ago. One of their top-performing recipes of all time, World’s Best Lasagna racks up more than 7 million views per year and has ranked among the most popular lasagna recipes on the internet for two decades!

Folks adore this lasagna recipe because it’s incredibly customizable, so you can easily alter the ingredient list to suit your needs. Our personal touches included using an entire pound of mozzarella, and a bit more grated parm than called for. Then a bit of the leftover meat sauce and mozzarella slices were the crowning feature.

While assembling, whether or not you lay the lasagna noodles length- or crosswise, you’ll likely have to trim them down a bit to fit the dish.

The assembled lasagna should take about 50 minutes to cook in an oven preheated to 375°. Cover it with foil for the first 25 minutes, then let it cook uncovered for the final 25 minutes. Also, it’s important to let the lasagna rest at room temperature for about 15 minutes before you cut into it.

We were all so excited to eat, I completely forgot to take photos of the finished lasagna, so snapped a couple of the leftovers…

World's Best Lasagna

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
  • ¾ lb. lean ground beef
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 6.5 oz. cans canned tomato sauce
  • 2 6 oz. cans tomato paste
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. white sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, divided
  • 1 ½ tsp. dried basil leaves
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt, divided, or to taste
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp. fennel seeds
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 16 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ lb. mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic in a Dutch oven over medium heat until well browned. Remove as much excess grease as possible and discard.
  2. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and water. Season with sugar, 2 tablespoons parsley, basil, 1 teaspoon salt, Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, and pepper. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining 2 tablespoons parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
  6. To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles length- or crosswise over the meat sauce (which ever fits your dish the best). Spread with 1/2 of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
  7. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, spray foil with cooking spray.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Rest lasagna for 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe by John Chandler 

Berbere-Spiced Chicken Skewers

If you’ve never tried Ethiopia’s signature spice blend berbere, these vibrant chicken skewers get deep flavor from it. Made with dried alliums, chilies and warm spices, berbere features complex flavor and a rich, earthy aroma. Look for it in spice shops or well-stocked grocery stores.

If you can’t find berbere, or don’t feel like purchasing another spice to add to your growing collection, use a mixture of ground coriander and smoked paprika (which is what we did). In this recipe from Milk Street, they combine berbere with softened butter, lime juice and honey, making a spicy-sweet seasoning mix ideal for clinging to the chicken before cooking.

We served our skewers with a Lemon and Herb Farro side dish.

Berbere-Spiced Chicken Skewers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 4 Tbsp. salted butter, room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp. berbere OR 1 Tbsp. ground coriander plus 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbsp. honey, plus more to serve
  • 1 Tbsp. grated lime zest, plus 2 Tbsp. lime juice, plus lime wedges to serve
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch pieces
  • 2 medium red OR orange OR yellow bell peppers OR a combination, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1½-inch pieces


  1. Set a wire rack in a broiler-safe rimmed baking sheet and mist with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the butter, berbere, honey, lime zest and juice, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Measure 2 tablespoons of the mixture into a small bowl; set aside for brushing.
  3. Add the chicken and peppers to the bowl with the remaining berbere mixture and mix with your hands to coat.
  4. Thread the chicken, alternating with the peppers, onto four 12-inch metal skewers. Place the skewers on the prepared rack, spacing them evenly. Let stand at room temperature while the broiler heats.
  5. Heat the broiler with a rack about 6 inches from the element. Broil the skewers until lightly charred, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven, flip and broil until charred on the second sides, another 6 to 7 minutes.
  6. Transfer to a serving platter, brush with the reserved butter mixture and drizzle with additional honey. Serve with lime wedges.

Original recipe from Milk Street

Sweet-and-Sour Pork with Pineapple

This takeout classic has delicious roots in Cantonese cooking. Now, it is tempting to dismiss sweet-and-sour pork as gloppy, Americanized Chinese food. And, let’s face it, it often is. Been there, tasted that.

Looking to harness that enticing sweet-tart profile without the saccharine stickiness, Milk Street was drawn to the dish’s origins. A lighter, earlier variation happens to be preserved in Taiwan, where cooks skip the deep-frying—and the ketchup—to better highlight the other ingredients.

Thinly sliced pork shoulder is marinated in soy sauce, a bit of sugar and cornstarch. The starch creates a protective layer against the high heat of a stir-fry, helping to keep the pork tender by preventing it from overcooking. After briefly stir-frying the meat with ginger, in go red bell pepper, chilies, scallions and pineapple with roughly equal parts rice vinegar, sugar and more soy sauce.

A hefty chunk of ginger is cut into matchsticks for bigger pops of piquant flavor, while thinly sliced serrano chilies add spice to further balance the sweetness. It makes for a savory-sweet dish, a little tart and well-balanced to the last bite. A delicious return to the dish’s roots.

NOTES: Don’t use canned pineapple, as its flavor is dull compared to fresh. But if prepping a whole pineapple is too much work, look for ones sold already cleaned in the produce section of the supermarket. Also, don’t use a conventional (i.e., not nonstick) skillet. Without a nonstick coating, the sugars from the pineapple and sauce are likely to stick to the pan’s surface and scorch.

Sweet-and-Sour Pork with Pineapple

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, trimmed, cut into 2-inch-wide strips, and thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided, plus more if needed
  • 1/2 tsp. plus 1 Tbsp. white sugar, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup chopped fresh pineapple (½-inch chunks)
  • 2-3 serrano chilies, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks (about 3 Tbsp.)
  • 1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar, plus more if needed
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the pork, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, the ½ teaspoon sugar and the cornstarch; stir until the pork is evenly coated.
  2. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the pork in an even layer and cook, stirring only once or twice, until the pork is lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pepper is lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add the pineapple, chilies and ginger, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the pineapple begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in the vinegar, the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Cook, stirring often, until the meat and vegetables are lightly coated with the sauce, 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Off heat, taste and season with additional soy sauce and vinegar. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the scallions.

Original recipe by Albert Stumm for Milk Street

One-Pan Paprika Chicken with Lentils, Squash and Daqa

Who doesn’t love a one-pan dinner? (Although you will be using several bowls.) This oven bake requires minimal effort and is very much a meal in itself. Daqa is a vinegar-based condiment, most commonly used when making the much-loved Egyptian koshari, a hearty dish of rice, pasta and lentils.

Daqa is a nifty way to brighten stews, braises and anything that needs an acidic lift. Feel free to swap out the kabocha squash for root vegetables, such as sweet potato (which we used) or celery root, and serve the whole thing with nothing more than a leafy green salad.

This meal was so flavorful, and fantastic as leftovers.

One-Pan Paprika Chicken with Lentils, Squash and Daqa

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2¼ lbs.)
  • ¾ lb. skin-on kabocha squash, seeds removed, cut into about 6 (1-inch-thick) wedges
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. ground sweet paprika
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Fine sea salt
  • 2 small yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds, lightly toasted
  • 8 oz./1 heaping cup (uncooked) French green lentils, rinsed
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup finely chopped chives
  • 3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill, plus 1 tablespoon picked leaves for serving
  • 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp. granulated sugar


  1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, squash, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 tablespoon oil and 1 teaspoon salt; set aside.
  3. Place the onions, 2 garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 2 teaspoons paprika in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and mix to combine. Roast for 10 minutes, stirring halfway, until the onions are lightly colored.
  4. Stir in the lentils and chicken stock. Arrange the squash wedges and the chicken, skin-side up, on top and roast for another 20 minutes, until the chicken skin is deeply golden.
  5. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and cook for another 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the squash is nicely softened.
  6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the sour cream, chives and dill; set aside.
  7. To make the daqa, mix the remaining garlic and cumin with the vinegar, sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons of water.
  8. When ready, remove the bake from the oven and top with spoonfuls of the sour cream mixture. Pour over the daqa and sprinkle with the extra dill. Serve hot, straight out of the baking dish.

Recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi for NYTimes Cooking

Marmitako—Basque Tuna Stew

There is nothing better than a warm and comforting stew on a cold day, it takes all the chills out of your body and fills you with nothing but comfort. However, this tuna stew is equally welcome on a bright Spring Day. And since The Hubs loves all-things Spanish, making the dish was a no-brainer.

Marmitako is really quite simple to make and you don’t need any special equipment, just a standard stock/braising pot, and most importantly, fresh ingredients. With a recipe this simple, it is always important to use the freshest and highest of quality ingredients, it truly does make a difference in the overall flavor.

We made numerous changes to the original recipe, which included doubling most of the vegetable ingredients. Some of the timing was altered also to cook the potatoes 5 minutes longer, and the tuna cubes 5 minutes less. All of the changes are noted below.

Marmitako - Basque Tuna Stew

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 fillets fresh tuna
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin Spanish olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups fish broth, preferably homemade
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Fresh parsley


  1. Begin by cutting all the vegetables first, 4 minced cloves of garlic, diced onion, diced red bell pepper, dice green bell pepper and cut 2 medium Yukon gold potato into 1/2-inch cubes.
  2. Heat a large stock pot with a medium heat and add a 1/4 cup of extra virgin Spanish olive oil, once the oil gets hot add the diced onions and minced garlic, mix with the oil and cook for about 4 minutes, then add the diced bell peppers, mix and cook for another 5 minutes, then add the cubed potatoes, mix and cook for another 2 minutes, then add 1 cup of diced tomatoes, season everything with a generous pinch of sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme and 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika, mix everything together and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Turn the fire up to a HIGH heat and add 1/2 cup of white wine, about 4 minutes after adding the white wine add 2 1/2 cups of fish broth, once it comes to a boil, place a lid on top and lower the fire to a LOW heat.
  4. While the stew is simmering, season 2 fresh tuna fillets with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper on both sides, then cut each one into 1/2 inch cubes.
  5. After leaving the stew to simmer for 25 minutes, add the cubed tuna to the stock pot, mix it with the rest of the ingredients, place the lid back on top and cook for another 5 minutes.
  6. Transfer the tuna stew into shallow bowls and garnish each one with fresh parsley

Adapted from a recipe from Spain on a Fork

Miso Pecan Banana Bread

How about a banana bread that is moist on the inside, with a crunchy bite around the edges? While banana bread has been around for decades, the dish is now a global mainstay. Morning with coffee, noon as a quick bite for lunch, or after dinner shared with a scoop of ice cream—it doesn’t really matter what time of day you indulge. My personal preference is a warm slice with a dab of ghee, or a schmear of peanut butter; or let’s face it, just by itself is perfectly fine.

In this recipe, the crunch of pecans complements the bread’s softness, while miso (which we always have on hand) adds complexity alongside the banana’s sweetness. Be sure to utilize the ripest bananas you can find because it really will make a difference. This banana bread can hold for several days on the counter or in the fridge—if you have any left.

“Banana-bread recipes over the decades have in common bananas, sweetener, a chemical leavener, some fat and flour. But beyond that they can differ wildly.”

PJ Hamel

Banana bread is extremely flexible: If this recipe doesn’t work for you, just change it. Add a little more miso. Maybe lighten up on the sugar. Or toss in another half cup of pecans until you’ve adjusted it to suit your own preferences. I followed the directions without any alterations (other than what I did with the toasted pecans), and loved the results!

“Banana bread is both striking and unremarkable, simple and staggering, found on the counters of coffee shops and apartment bar tops and tiny cafes globally. A corner piece can shift your entire day. Or maybe your choice is a slice from the middle, full of flavor without the baggage of a crust. Or perhaps your ideal banana bread is whichever iteration is available — YouTube’s code sags under the weight of banana-bread recipes, and they’re each as delicious as the impulses behind them. It’s a dish as perfect as it is malleable.” — Bryan Washington

For the topping, you can add all of the chopped pecans to the batter, and place 8 or 9 whole roasted pecans to the top once in the loaf pan; or do half and half as instructed below. The indicated baking time of 60 to 80 minutes didn’t pan out for us. It took 1 hour and 35 minutes in the oven before the thin metal skewer stuck into the center came out clean.

Miso Pecan Banana Bread

  • Servings: 1, 9 to 10-inch loaf
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • ½ tsp. vegetable oil, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 tsp. fine sea or table salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 Tbsp. white miso
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 very ripe bananas, mashed (1¾ cups)


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9- or 10-inch loaf tin, then line the base with parchment paper. Also, grease and flour a loaf pan.
  2. Toss pecans on a parchment-lined baking sheet with salt and oil. Bake until fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes. When cool, chop to your desired consistency.
  3. While the pecans cool, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and baking powder in a medium bowl.
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar using an electric mixer until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in eggs, milk, miso, honey and vanilla extract until well-combined. Gradually beat in dry ingredients until just combined.
  5. Using a spatula, stir bananas into the batter to combine evenly. Add half of the pecans (and any salt on the pan) to the batter and mix to combine evenly throughout. Add batter to the prepared loaf pan, smoothing when complete. Sprinkle the remaining pecans evenly on top.
  6. Bake until a wooden skewer inserted in several areas around the center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes (ours took 1 hour 35 minutes). Tent with foil if it starts to darken too much on top before the middle is baked through.
  7. Let bread sit in tin for 10 minutes before removing and setting on a rack to cool for 60 minutes. Serve with coffee, ice cream or entirely by itself.

Adapted from a recipe by Bryan Washington for NYTimes Cooking

Grilled Flap Steak, Mushroom and Onion Kebabs

As you are aware, Shish kebab is a dish of skewered and grilled cubes of meat that is popular all over the Middle East, and made of lamb, beef or chicken, they also are commonly found in the United States. When selecting the type of beef to make your kebabs, you have unlimited choices but ultimately you want your beef on the skewer to be tasty, tender and not break your budget.

If cost is not a hindrance, the best cut of beef for kebabs is definitely filet mignon. Other excellent beef options include Porterhouse, and if it looks good at the butcher or in the meat counter, also try a rib-eye. They all grill nicely and don’t require a marinade to make them tender. But while those cuts meet the criteria of best tasty beef, they’re pricey and will take a chunk out of your wallet.

For those looking for great flavor on a budget, sirloin tips work well if they are marinated ahead to make them more flavorful. Our choice, flap meat. Historically, flap meat was one of the cuts of beef that butchers kept out of the meat case for a reason: they were saving it for themselves. Much like skirt steak and hanger steak, it’s becoming more widely known and popular, and therefore easier to find in markets everywhere. (Costco carries flap meat.)

With its great beefy flavor, flap steak has a similar texture and grain to flank, hanger and skirt steaks. It tends to come to the market at 3 to 4 pounds, whereas skirt and flank steaks average around 2 pounds or less. Price-wise, flank and flap steaks are about the same.

We had 2 pounds of flap meat instead of the 18 ounces originally called for, so we also increased the mushrooms from 8 to 12 ounces. Another alteration to the recipe was adding 6 whole smashed garlic cloves to the marinade. Our kebabs were served with a minted couscous (recipe below), and a baby arugula side salad that also contained mint.

Grilled Steak, Mushroom and Onion Kebabs

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 6 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 lbs. flap steak, cut into 24 cubes
  • 12 oz. baby bella (cremini) mushrooms, trimmed of stem
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, sliced into 12 wedges


  1. Whisk oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic cloves and rosemary into a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add steak to a bowl, and mix to coat. Cover with plastic wrap (or place in a ziploc bag) and transfer to the refrigerator to marinate for a minimum of 1 hour (longer is better).
  2. While beef is marinating, soak 12 bamboo skewers in water.
  3. To assemble skewers: Add 1 piece of steak, 1 mushroom and onion wedge. Continue by adding the same. Continue until all 12 skewers are complete.
  4. Preheat the grill on high for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high and clean and then oil grates. Add skewers Cook for approximately 2-3 minutes and then flip skewers. Continue cooking for additional 2 minutes.
  5. Transfer to serving plate. Garnish with fresh rosemary if desired.

Adapted from a recipe from Paula of Bell’alimento for The Mushroom Council

Minted Couscous

Minted Couscous

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 3⁄4 cup tri-colored couscous
  • 1⁄2 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 3⁄4 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced


  1. In a small bowl combine the lemon juice, olive oil and garlic.
  2. While the kebabs are grilling, bring 1 cup water and 3⁄4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Stir in the couscous, peas, and lemon juice mixture. Cover, remove from heat and let stand at least until the peas are tender and the couscous has absorbed all of the liquid, at least 10 minutes.

Chickpeas with Spinach, Chorizo, and Smoked Paprika

A traditional tapas from the southern Spanish region of Andalucia, this dish consists of tender stewed chickpeas, delicate wilted spinach, and bold North African-influenced spices. For the flavor backbone, the Spanish classics of saffron, garlic, smoked paprika and cumin are utilized.

Traditional addition of chorizo adds meaty richness, while curly-leafed spinach is the best choice for its sturdy texture in this brothy dish. That being said, we were unable to source curly-leafed spinach and had to go with baby spinach—not the best option, but it still worked.

Including the chickpeas’ flavorful, starchy canning liquid helps to give the dish more body. The picada is a traditional cooking thickener in Spain. This bread crumb-based mixture gives the stewed beans and greens just the right velvety texture and flavor boost.

It is good served over rice or with good crusty bread to sop up the flavorful broth. We just served it with a side salad.

Chickpeas with Spinach, Chorizo, and Smoked Paprika

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • Pinch saffron threads, crumbled
  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 oz. curly-leaf spinach, stemmed
  • 3 oz. Spanish-style chorizo sausage, chopped fine
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 (15-oz.) cans chickpeas
  • 1 recipe Picada (recipe follows)
  • 1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar


  1. Combine 2 Tbsp. boiling water and saffron in small bowl and let steep for 5 minutes.
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add spinach and 2 tablespoons water, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted but still bright green, about 1 minute. Transfer spinach to colander and gently press to release liquid. Transfer spinach to cutting board and chop coarse. Return to colander and press again.
  3. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in now-empty pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add chorizo and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, paprika, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in chickpeas and their liquid, 1 cup water, and saffron mixture and bring to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chickpeas are tender and liquid has thickened slightly, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Off heat, stir in picada (recipe below), spinach, and vinegar and let sit until heated through, about 2 minutes. Adjust sauce consistency with hot water as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.


  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into quarters
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • Pinch pepper


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 F. Pulse almonds in food processor to fine crumbs, about 20 pulses.
  2. Add bread, oil, salt, and pepper and pulse bread to coarse crumbs, about 10 pulses.
  3. Spread mixture evenly in rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring often, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. (Picada can be stored in airtight container for up to 2 days.)

Recipe from The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook by America’s test Kitchen

Pasta with Cremini Mushrooms and Miso

For this hearty vegetarian dish, the pasta is cooked directly in the sauce, so there’s no need to boil water in a separate pot. Japanese miso may seem an unlikely ingredient to pair with Italian pasta, but it deepens the mushrooms’ earthiness, and lightly browning the miso as it is done here develops even more flavor intensity so the dish tastes surprisingly meaty and rich.

Cavatappi is a good choice because its twisty shape is a good match for the chunky mushrooms, but any short pasta shape, such as penne or fusilli, works well, too. But because we used a larger flat pasta, we needed to add another cup of water to loosen the sauce.

Don’t forget to stir the pasta as it cooks. The pot will be quite full, so frequent stirring will help ensure that the pasta cooks evenly.

Pasta with Cremini Mushrooms and Miso

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 4 Tbsp. (½ stick) salted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup white miso
  • ½ cup dry white vermouth
  • 2 lbs. cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 lb. short pasta (see note)
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ oz. pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated (¼ cup)


  • On a 6-quart Instant Pot, select More/High Sauté. (Or use a pressure cooker.) Add the butter and melt. Add the onion and garlic, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the miso and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the vermouth and cook, stirring, until almost fully evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  • Add 3 cups water (or 4 if necessary to loosen) and whisk until the miso dissolves. Stir in the mushrooms and bring to a boil, then distribute in an even layer.
  • Press Cancel, lock the lid in place and move the pressure valve to Sealing. Select Pressure Cook or Manual; make sure the pressure level is set to High. Set the cooking time for 5 minutes. When pressure cooking is complete, quick-release the steam by moving the pressure valve to Venting. Press Cancel, then carefully open the pot.
  • Select More/High Sauté. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the pasta. Cook, stirring often, until the pasta is al dente and and the sauce clings lightly, about 10 minutes. Press Cancel to turn off the pot.
  • Stir in the thyme and lemon juice, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the parsley and pecorino.

Recipe by Phoebe Maglathlin for Milk Street

Roasted Sweet Vidalia Pork Loin

For quite a fancy spread, this elegant dinner comes together in not much more than an hour. The sweet Vidalia onions break down into luxurious softness, while the apple slices (we used Ruby Frost) and garlic render down and provide additional layers of flavor to the onion mixture.

Served with garlicky mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli, it was a complete and satisfying meal. We had plenty leftover so we plan to get two additional meals from it. One, a pork fried rice dish, and the other we’ll just simply reheat the leftovers as they are, and enjoy the meal all over again!

Roasted Sweet Vidalia Pork Loin

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 center-cut pork loin, (3 lbs.)
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Vidalia onions, sliced into thin half-moons
  • 1 apple, sliced thick
  • 1 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup hard apple cider, or beer
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Generously sprinkle all sides of the pork loin with salt and pepper. Place a braiser or shallow Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and heat until shimmering. Carefully put the pork in the pan. Sear until deeply golden on all sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove from the pan.
  3. Put the onions and apple in a large mixing bowl. Add the caraway seeds, dried thyme, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss to coat. Transfer the mixture to the bottom of the braiser and nestle in the garlic cloves. Pour in 1/4 cup of the chicken stock and place the pork back on top. Put in the oven.
  4. About 20 minutes into the roasting time, turn the apple and onion mixture, leaving the pork loin alone. Continuing cooking the roast until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees F, about 30 minutes. (Ours took 40 minutes to come to temperature.)
  5. Transfer the pork to a cutting board to rest while you make a pan sauce. Remove the apple and onion mixture to a platter
  6. Return the braiser to the stove over medium-high heat. Pour in the hard cider and remaining 1/2 cup chicken stock. Cook, scraping with a spatula to remove any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Whisk in the mustard. Allow the sauce to simmer until reduced slightly, a couple of minutes. Add the butter, whisking until melted. Cook just until the sauce is shiny and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.
  7. Slice the pork and arrange the slices over the onion and apple mixture. Top with sauce and chopped parsley.

Adapted from a recipe by Trisha Yearwood

Poulet au Vinaigre

This classic Lyonnaise dish calls for using just chicken thighs rather than the usual combination of light and dark meat to ensure that all the meat cooks at the same rate. It hails from America’s Test Kitchen and we were excited to try the recipe.

The chicken thighs are browned to develop flavor and then braised in a flavorful mix of chicken broth (preferably homemade), white wine, and red wine vinegar until it reaches 195 degrees and is meltingly tender and juicy.

To finish the sauce, fortify the braising liquid with tomato paste and reduce it to a luxurious, lightly thickened consistency before adding minced fresh tarragon. The sauce is typically finished with heavy cream, but this version whisks in a couple tablespoons of butter instead to help preserve the vibrancy of the luscious sauce. 

We initially loved the fact that it was a recipe for two. But after dining on the amazing dish, we almost wished we did have leftovers. The sauce alone is so incredibly tasty, you’ll want to lick your plate clean! Our entree was paired with Miso-Orange Glazed Carrots.

NOTE: Use an inexpensive dry white wine here or substitute dry vermouth. Fresh tarragon is traditional for poulet au vinaigre, but parsley can be substituted, if desired.

Poulet au Vinaigre

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 4 (5- to 7-oz.) bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed
  • ½ tsp. table salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 1 ½ tsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp. minced shallot, or more (we doubled it to 1⁄4 cup)
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced thin
  • ½ cup chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 ½Tbsp. red wine vinegar, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1 ½ tsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1 ½ tsp. minced fresh tarragon


  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Heat oil in 10-inch oven-safe skillet over medium heat until shimmering.
  3. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook, without moving it, until well browned, about 8 minutes. Using tongs, flip chicken and brown on second side, about 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to large plate.
  4.  Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet. Add shallot and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is golden brown, about 1½ minutes.
  5. Add broth, wine, and vinegar; bring to simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Return chicken to skillet, skin side up (skin will be above surface of liquid).
  6. Transfer skillet to oven and bake, uncovered, until chicken registers 195 degrees, 35 to 40 minutes. Using tongs, transfer chicken to clean serving platter and tent with aluminum foil.
  7. Place skillet over high heat. Whisk tomato paste into liquid and bring to boil. Cook, occasionally scraping side of skillet to incorporate fond, until sauce is thickened and reduced to ⅔ cup, 5 to 7 minutes.
  8. Off heat, whisk in butter and tarragon. Season with salt, pepper, and up to ½ teaspoon extra vinegar (added ⅛ teaspoon at a time) to taste. Pour sauce around chicken and serve.

Original recipe from America’s test Kitchen

Sichuan Braised Cod

I declared this my favorite cod recipe to date. The flavor profile was spot on for me, although it may be a bit too spicy for some. In that case, cut back on the number of dried chiles.

The Sichuan Braised Cod recipe from Fine Cooking makes a for quick and healthy supper, especially when served with a side salad. Only the two of us were sharing the meal so we bought a smaller piece of fish—just over a pound—and cut it into 3 equal sections.

The original recipe instructs you to flip the cooked cod in the sauce a couple of times. Fearing the fish would fall apart as it was flipped, we spooned the sauce over each fillet instead. To keep it pescatarian, we swapped out the chicken broth for homemade shrimp stock. Serve with steamed rice.

Sichuan Braised Cod

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1⁄2 cup, plus 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar, more to taste
  • 3/4 Shrimp broth
  • 1 1⁄2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. ketchup
  • 1 1⁄2 lbs. cod fillets, cut into 4 uniform pieces
  • Kosher salt and frhly ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 Tvbsp. canola oil
  • 10 dried Thai chiles or other small whole chiles
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
  • 1 1⁄2 Tbsp. minced ginger


  1. in a small bowl, mix the 2 teaspoons cornstarch with 2 tablespoons vinegar. Add the broth, soy sauce and ketchup.
  2. Season the fish with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  3. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup cornstarch on a plate, and put the eggs in a wide bowl. Dredge the fish in the cornstarch.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch non-stick pan over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Soak the fish in the egg for a couple of seconds, then add to the pan.
  5. Cook, flipping every three minutes, until the cod is browned and a little firm to the touch, about 5 minutes total (it should not be cooked all the way through). Transfer the fish to a large plate.
  6. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan, then add the chiles, white parts of the scallions, and ginger. Cook, stirring until the scallions become translucent and browned in a few places, about 2 minutes.
  7. Give the cornstarch mixture a quick stir and then pour it into the pan. It should come to a boil and thicken quickly. Reduce the heat to medium-low, return the fish to the pan, and spoon the sauce over the fillets a couple of times to coat them in the sauce.
  8. Cover the pan, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and cook until the fish is just cooked through and starting to flake, 3 to 5 minutes.
  9. Taste the sauce for salt and vinegar, adding more to taste if needed. Serve immediately with the sauce spooned over the cod and sprinkled with scallion greens.

Adapted from a recipe from Fine Cooking

Yogurt-Roasted Carrots with Warm Spices

In this tandoori-inspired recipe from Milk Street, garam masala is combined with crushed fennel seed and turmeric for the carrot seasoning. A shallot-infused melted butter topping includes more of the spice mix with fresh cilantro and mint. Full-fat Greek yogurt better facilitates charring due to its lower moisture content.

It is recommended that you buy carrots with their green tops still attached. Even though you discard the greens, they tend to be fresher and on the slimmer side. The greens are super delicious and loaded with nutrients so if you’re not keen on tossing them, consider using them in a variety of ways such as pesto, chimichurri, fritters, or in your homemade vegetable broth.

Don’t forget to coat the baking sheet with cooking spray. The yogurt-covered carrots otherwise will char and stick to the pan. Don’t use large carrots for this recipe. Bunched carrots with tops are thinner and more tender than bagged carrots.

Yogurt-Roasted Carrots with Warm Spices

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 bunches carrots with tops (1 lb. total), tops removed and discarded, halved crosswise on a sharp diagonal
  • 4 Tbsp. salted butter
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed fresh mint, chopped


  1. Heat the oven to 500°F with a rack in the middle position. Mist a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the garam masala, fennel, turmeric and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. In a large bowl, mix the yogurt with 4 teaspoons of the spice mix. Add the carrots and toss to coat. Distribute the carrots in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Roast until well charred and a skewer inserted into the carrots meets no resistance, 25 to 30 minutes; stir the carrots once about halfway through.
  4. Meanwhile, in an 8-inch skillet over medium, melt the butter. Add the shallot and garlic, then cook, stirring, until beginning to brown and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining spice mix and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  6. When the carrots are done, add the spiced shallot mixture, cilantro and mint directly to the baking sheet and toss with tongs. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then transfer immediately to a serving platter.
    NOTE: Don’t let them stay on the baking sheet which will char the tender herbs and onions. Cover with foil if your other dishes are not ready.

Recipe from Calvin Cox for Milk Street

Lazy Chicken-and-Sausage Cassoulet

Cassoulet, a hearty slow-simmered stew of sausage, confit (typically duck), pork, and white beans, is one of the great hallmarks of French country cuisine. The best versions are cooked for hours until the beans and meat meld into a dish of luxuriant, velvety richness. As chef-author Molly Stevens says “There is no single best cassoulet, and, perhaps more importantly, feel free to adapt this rustic dish to suit your own appetite and cooking routines.”

Typically, a traditional French cassoulet should be cooked, then cooled, preferably overnight, then cooked and cooled again — at least three times. Multiple slow simmerings allow the beans to absorb the rich flavors of the sausage and duck confit until they become velvety and plush while still maintaining their shape and integrity. Ideally, it is made over the course of four days, but not here.

This “lazy” version remains the simplest: one that you can get on the dinner table in about an hour. Start with boneless, skinless chicken thighs (unless you have leftover roast chicken, which works great, too). If you have duck fat on hand, which we did, use it to sauté the chicken for an extra flavor boost (and because that’s the fat most used in southwest France), but any neutral-tasting oil will do. Either way, the chicken should be tender, cooked through, and well-seasoned.

Then it’s a matter of sautéing an onion, a healthy amount of garlic, and a heap of smoked sausage to create a flavor base that will carry through the entire dish. A bit of tomato paste ups the umami quotient, and a splash of white wine contributes just enough acid to balance the richness. From there, everything gets gently folded together with cooked white beans (canned or home-cooked), spread in a shallow dish (either a gratin or a heavy skillet), topped with breadcrumbs, and baked until bubbling hot on the inside and crunchy-golden on top. Unbelievably decadent and delicious!

Make Ahead: The dish may be prepared through step 5, covered, and stored in the refrigerator up to 1 day ahead.

FYI, we doubled the andouille sausage because we only had about half the amount of chicken thighs.

Lazy Chicken-and-Sausage Cassoulet

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, patted dry
  • 1 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tsp. black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 cup olive oil or canola oil, divided
  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 oz. smoked sausage, such as andouille or kielbasa, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
  • 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 15-oz. cans white beans, such as Great Northern or cannellini, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Season chicken thighs with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add chicken thighs, smooth side down. Cook, undisturbed, adjusting heat as necessary so thighs cook evenly without scorching, until edges turn opaque and bottoms are nicely browned, about 6 minutes. Flip and cook until internal temperature reaches 165°F, 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside on a plate. Do not wipe skillet clean.
  2. Return skillet and any drippings to medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil, onion, and sausage. Cook, stirring often, until onion is tender and light golden, about 6 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, thyme, allspice, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring often, until heated through and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add wine and tomato paste, and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer; cook, stirring often, 1 to 2 minutes. Add beans, stock, and 2 tablespoons oil; bring to a simmer.
  5. Shred chicken into bite-size pieces; add to onion mixture along with any drippings that have accumulated on the plate. Transfer to an 8- x 11-inch baking dish. Spread into an even layer. (If cooking later, cover the dish with foil and refrigerate until ready to bake.)
  6. Toss breadcrumbs with remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Scatter breadcrumbs over bean mixture.
  7. Bake in preheated oven until heated through, top is browned, and sides are bubbly, about 20 minutes. (If baking from refrigerated, bake an additional 5 to 10 additional minutes.)
  8. Remove from oven and let rest for about 10 minutes. Serve.

Recipe by Molly Stevens for Food & Wine

Roasted Bell Peppers with Tomato and Garlic

Very versatile, these little gems make splendid hors d’oeuvres eaten out of hand or set atop a crostini, as well as a side dish. A few on a plate make a nice sit-down first course, and they’re great as part of a buffet.

They add a nice pop of color—along with the nutrients—to your plate. The first go-around we served our Roasted Bell Peppers boats with a Parmesan Meatloaf.

Roasted Bell Peppers with Tomato and Garlic

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 anchovy filets, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperture
  • 2 bell peppers, red and/or yellow
  • 1 med-large tomato
  • Freshly ground blak pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F.
  2. Lightly oil a 13 x 9-inch gratin pan or similar-size baking dish.
  3. Combine the garlic and anchovies in a small mortar, add a pinch of salt, and smash and grind to form a paste. Add the butter and work together with a wooden spoon until well combined.
  4. Half the peppers lengthwise and remove the core, seeds, and soft membrane-like ribs. Cut each half lengthwise into 1 1⁄2″ wide strips. Arrange the strips skin side down on the baking dish. Core the tomato and cut it into the same number of wedges as you have pepper strips. Using a sharp paring knife, carve the juicy seed pockets away from each tomato slice and discard. Season tomato strips on all sides with salt and pepper.
  5. Dived the seasoned butter among the pepper boats, spreading a small amount on each one. Top with a piece of tomato. Drizzle with olive oil.
  6. Roast until the peppers and tomato pieces are tipped with brown and the pepper is just barely tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle the peppers and tomato with parsley and serve warm or at room temperature, with the juices pored over the top.

Recipes from “All About Roasting” by Molly Stevens