Here’s how to turn your grilled cheese sandwich into an umami bomb

Grilled cheese is elemental. All you need is the right cheese (I like Gruyere or sharp cheddar), the right bread (I go for a soft sandwich bread), a little butter and a pan, and you’re on the way to a quick, simple, satisfying meal. Or at least the main thrust of one, rounded out by good old tomato soup and/or a salad. But you don’t need a recipe for a plain grilled cheese sandwich, do you? What you need is a recipe that takes grilled cheese to the next level with just a couple of smart additio

This genius sauce turns your pasta into a seasonal stunner — no matter the season

Some cookbook authors have earned my complete trust, and Amy Chaplin is one of them. I’ve never made a thing I didn’t love from her stunning first book, 2014’s “At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen,” and have recommended it countless times. So I knew that when the Australian teacher, consultant and personal chef came out with another book, history would surely repeat itself. Chaplin’s latest, “Whole Food Cooking Every Day” (Artisan, 2019), starts with the same philosophy as her first — that cookin

Fried rice was made for those containers of leftover takeout in your fridge

If you order Chinese takeout with any regularity, you know the drill: You need to do something with all that leftover rice languishing in your fridge. It dries out and hardens a little, which would be a problem except that when you make fried rice — and you absolutely should make fried rice — that’s just what you want. I’ve made it off the cuff plenty of times, throwing in whatever I have and following the basic rules of stir-frying: cutting the ingredients small, having everything prepped in a

This quick Korean stir-fry serves up a bounty of fresh-cut vegetables

I never met a noodle I didn’t like. Spaghetti, ramen, udon, rice: You name it, I’ll slurp it, happily. A favorite, especially in the summer, is dangmyeon, Korean sweet potato noodles, a.k.a. glass noodles, a.k.a. cellophane noodles. Why especially in summer? Because these noodles, which get their English name because of their translucence, are super-light and springy, and gluten-free. I can eat a lot of them without feeling as weighed down as I do by, say, pasta (as much as I love pasta). When

If you hate a dry sandwich, this vegetable-packed, delectably messy ciabatta is for you

Nothing disappoints me more than a dry sandwich. So intense are my feelings on this subject that I once threatened on social media to ship a case of mayo to a popular — and now-closed — D.C. sandwich chain before I would ever place another order. Mayo isn’t the only way to get good moisture into a sandwich, naturally. There are your other standard condiments, and I’ve also had (and made!) great ones enlivened by romesco, vinegar and oil, salsa and more. You name the sauce and it can probably fi

This elegant, pantry-friendly white gazpacho deserves to be as famous as its red cousin

The first time I tasted ajo blanco, Spain’s white gazpacho, I was surprised. Surprised that as a fan of the better-known tomato gazpacho and a lover of Spanish food generally, I had somehow missed this elegant little number. Surprised that it was so creamy without any dairy products. And surprised at how simple it was to make — and how impressive to serve. That was almost 15 years ago, when Boston chef Gabriel Frasca showed me his

This crunchy salad is a ‘mostly plants’ recipe approved by Michael Pollan

Anybody who’s read much of anything about food over the past few years has surely heard the maxim “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Coined by Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and other books influential to the sustainable-food movement, the phrase suggests a reasonable path: Avoid processed food, don’t overeat, and put produce at the center of the plate. His mother and sisters’ new cookbook turns that advice into more than 100 recipes. But in the foreword, Pollan says t

When the summer slows you down, this cold avocado soup will pick you up

My first summer in Washington, I was fairly miserable. I lived barely 10 blocks from work, but what had been a 12-minute walk in the wintertime slowed to a 20-minute slog come June and July, as I tried to avoid arriving at work drenched. My second summer, things improved a bit when I discovered the magic of alleyways and explored routes to find maximum shade. Even so, after walking home at the end of the day, the last meal I wanted to make was anything heavy and hot. Now, my commute involves 20

For lazy summer days, this corn, tomato and tortilla-chip salad does all the work for you

We’re starting to hit that time of year when summer’s glorious produce demands to be used, just when you may be too heat-fatigued to feel like doing much with it. To the rescue: a recipe made for those days when an hour spent mowing the law, pulling weeds or strolling the farmers market needs to be followed by a tall glass of iced tea and a nap. This salad demands very little of you and gives so much in return. It’s hearty enough to be a main-course lunch, light enough to play side-dish status.

When the fridge is (almost) empty, this adaptable Japanese pancake comes to the rescue

Most nights, I open the fridge to find a bounty of fresh and cooked vegetables, grains, beans — along with all those condiments and sauces in need of Kondo-ing. When I’ve been too busy for my normal weekend shopping-and-cooking ritual, though, things can look a little sparse. But there’s almost always the ingredients to make okonomiyaki, Japan’s great savory cabbage pancake. I usually have cabbage because I buy a huge one and cut large chunks off it for making small portions of slaw. And here’s

This salad of green beans, potatoes and eggs is the breezy dish your summer needs

The best summer salads are mere suggestions: Buy what looks good and fresh and calls to you at the market, cook it simply or not at all, season it well (combining it with pantry staples that lend pops of flavor) and eat up. A classic of the genre is the niçoise, which in its most traditional form allows for no cooked vegetables at all but has been widely interpreted (some would say bastardized) to include not only boiled potatoes and green beans

Forget crisp-tender. Cook broccoli longer, and it becomes as comforting as this bowl of pasta.

As a son of the South, I have a thing for long-cooked vegetables. One of the dishes my mother made that I remember most fondly was her broccoli cream-cheese casserole, for which the broccoli was steamed until soft, then combined with cream cheese and butter, showered with bread crumbs and baked. It was a far cry from the crisp-tender, bright-green broccoli that took hold a decade or two later — it wasn’t health food, in other words — and I loved every bite. This pasta dish from Alice Hart, one

This dairy-free ranch dressing is primed for your summertime salads

When salad season heats up, one thing keeps my kitchen humming: a good homemade dressing. Sure, I’ll throw together a makeshift vinaigrette here and there, combining the bits from almost-used jars of condiments with vinegar and oil. I also adore creamy dressings — green goddess, ranch and the like — that typically take a little more thought. A traditional recipe for one of the latter is all well and good, but when I want an alternative to a mayonnaise or buttermilk base, I get creaminess by inc

A Greek-style collection of toppings turns these ‘pizzas’ into a glorious mess

Sometimes I want pizza — wood-fired-oven-baked, charred-crust, Neopolitan-style — and sometimes I want “pizza.” The latter is the type of thing I would make in the broiler after school when I was a kid: French bread, English muffins or flour tortillas topped with sauce and cheese and heated until bubbly. This recipe is squarely in the latter camp, but it’s a step up. Cookbook author Heather Thomas, who splits her time between Greece and the U.K., uses pita breads as a base for a pile of spinach

José Andrés wants Americans to eat more vegetables — and learn how to cook them

If you’ve paid attention to the career of chef José Andrés over the past few years — and who hasn’t? — you shouldn’t find it surprising that his latest cookbook, “Vegetables Unleashed,” is an ode to plant-based cooking, or, as co-author Matt Goulding told me, “a song of José, sung in the key of vegetables.” Even though he’s from the land of jamón (and has done much to promote it in the States), Andrés years ago started talking up the idea that vegetables are “sexy” and worth moving to the center

Cook these meaty oyster mushrooms right, and they make for a satisfying sandwich

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Cooking is often a matter of managing moisture: keeping it in when you’re cooking meat, driving it out when you’re cooking vegetables. The latter is true even for members of a prized category of plant-based cooking that are actually in-between plants and animals: fungi such as mushrooms. Their flesh is so spongy, you need to get rid of at least some of that water before they’ll brown, and if you don’t they can become a soggy mess rather than their sav

I hate raisins. But pickle them, and they make this roasted eggplant salad crazy good.

Smart cooks have little tricks, back-pocket condiments and add-ons that can transform a dish. Chef and former farmer Abra Berens is one of those cooks, and her new cookbook is full of them. Take her roasted eggplant dish, which includes two components that could each be worth a treatise. As different as they are, the upshot is the same: They take little effort yet make such a difference. They come from different sides of the flavor and texture spectrum. Garlic-infused breadcrumbs, which you to
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