Giant Chipotle Baked Beans

A riff on Laurence Jossel’s famous NOPA beans – plump, creamy beans baked in a bright, chunky chipotle tomato sauce, topped with crunchy breadcrumbs, plenty of oozy queso fresco, and an emerald drizzle of cilantro pesto.

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Food & Wine magazine’s Emily Kaiser wrote an article in November of 2008 that highlighted two of my favorite things: Steve Sando’s Rancho Gordo heirloom beans, and a bean recipe from NOPA – a restaurant that was just a short walk from my front door for many years. I’ve enjoyed Laurence Jossel’s beans countless times, both at the restaurant and by making them in my own kitchen. I even brought them to Thanksgiving one year. Imagine plump, creamy beans baked in a bright, chunky tomato sauce, topped with crunchy breadcrumbs, plenty of tangy crumbled feta, and an emerald drizzle of oregano-parsley pesto. I love his original recipe, but the last time I made them I decided to add a few of my own twists. I did a subtly smoky chipotle-version of the tomato sauce, a cilantro drizzle, kale, whole grain bread crumbs, and queso fresco cheese. I’m including the recipe down below.
Chipotle Baked Beans

Make Ahead Magic

One of the great things about this recipe is that you can do many of the components ahead of time. You can boil the dried beans, make the pesto, make the tomato sauce, and toast the breadcrumbs. None of which are exceedingly difficult. You can then assemble the components in a flash, and into the oven it goes. Perfect for when you have friends over.
Chipotle Baked Beans

Can I Use Canned Beans?

I’m sure someone is going to ask, so I’ll answer ahead of time – how about substituting canned beans? Ok – here’s the deal – in my experience canned beans lack the structure that beans cooked from scratch have. The canned guys tend to break and go to mush far more quickly. In this recipe they will likely work, but won’t hold up as well. The flavor will be fine, but the texture will be a different beast. If you go this route, don’t skimp on the bread crumbs.
Chipotle Baked Beans
Give these beans a try (either version!), they are outrageously good. The shot above is the recipe in progress, before baking. And the photo below is the beans prior to soaking. They’re huge. You’re looking for beans the size of your thumb prior to soaking for this recipe. I make some suggestion for different types in the recipe below.
Chipotle Baked Beans

Also! There are no shortage of bean recipes on this site. The ones I make most often are these homemade refried beans, and if you’ve never cooked beans from dried, no problem! This post will show you how to cook beans that are simple and amazing.

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Thousand Layer Lasagna

My favorite and best lasagna recipe. Dozens and dozens of whisper-thin sheets of fresh pasta brushed with the most vibrant red tomato sauce imaginable all intersecting layer after layer of warm, oozy, fresh mozzarella.

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If I told you this was the best lasagna recipe, would you believe me? Let’s give it a try. This is thousand layer lasagna. I first posted the recipe in 2006, and still make it all these years later. Imagine dozens and dozens of whisper-thin sheets of fresh pasta brushed with a simple, vibrant red tomato sauce, threaded with layer after layer of warm, oozy, fresh mozzarella. Where the sauce and cheese and pasta touch the pan, particularly in the corners, everything gets crunchy and caramelized. The corner pieces, omg.
Lasagna on a Table with a Piece on a White Plate
I should say, this isn’t a lasagna path for the faint-hearted. This lasagna takes commitment, patience, and lots of time. Think weekend project. This is in part because you’re using fresh pasta, and, well, there are a thousand layers. That said, I’ve streamlined the process a lot over the years. And will call out those tips in the recipe below.Lasagna in a Glass Baking Dish on a Marble Counter Top

How to Make Lasagna: The Basics

  • Start by making the sauce: the sauce I use for this lasagna is super simple, vibrant, and a wink spicy.
  • Prepare the pasta: You’ll either be using homemade pasta or purchase fresh pasta sheets. No dried pasta noodles for this lasagna. The key will be getting your pasta sheet extra thin before boiling.
  • Assemble the lasagna: You’re on the home stretch.
  • Bake:  Until golden, hot, and bubbly – serve!

Close up of a Baked Lasagna Unsliced with Cheese on Top

Homemade Pasta versus Store Bought

Originally, I would always make this lasagna with homemade pasta sheets. Eventually it dawned on me that I could buy pasta sheets and shave some time off the production. I’d say it cuts your time in half. The main thing, in either case, is that you want to get your pasta sheets super thin. So, even if I buy pre-made pasta sheets, I run them through my pasta machine at home a couple times to make them even thinner.
Thin Sheets of Fresh Pasta Flat on a Table
I’m using homemade pasta here, but the process is basically the same if you’re using store-bought pasta sheets.
Pasta Machine in Process of making Pasta Sheets for Lasagna

Can I Freeze Lasagna?

Yes! Absolutely. You can store it, assembled, either baked or unbaked.

  • To freeze an unbaked lasagna: Line your baking pan with a layer of parchment paper. Assemble the lasagna in the baking dish, allow to cool completely, and freeze until solid. Once frozen, transfer the frozen block of lasagna from the dish, wrap completely with foil and freeze for up to a month or two. 
  • To finish an unbaked frozen lasagna: Remove all layers of foil, you can decide if you want to leave the parchment or not, and transfer to the original baking dish. Allow to thaw completely before baking as directed.
  • To freeze baked lasagna: If you know you’re going to freeze your fully baked lasagna, line your pan with foil, and then a layer of parchment paper. Assemble the lasagna as directed, and then bake. I tend to undertake a shade here, knowing I’ll be reheating later.Let it cool completely after baking, and then freeze solid. Transfer the frozen lasagna out of the baking dish, wrap tightly in foil, and freeze for up to a month or two.
  • Reheating a baked lasagna: remove the lasagna from the freeze and remove the foil. Transfer to the original baking dish, and allow to thaw completely. Cover with foil and bake as directed until golden and bubbly. 

Assembling Lasagna in Glass Baking Dish with Pasta and Tomato Sauce and Cheese
This is a good photo (above) demonstrating the ideal thickness of your pasta for this lasagna. The photo above shows you the amount of sauce you’re aiming for, as well as mozzarella.
Pre-boiled Lasagna Noodles on Countertop
What you are seeing in the photo above is the pasta sheets boiled and ready for assembly. Because of the olive oil in the cooling water you use, overlapping the pasta sheets here isn’t a problem. They separate relatively easily.
Unbaked Lasagna in Glass Baking Dish
Ready for the oven! This is what it looks like fully assembled and ready to bake. Of course you can experiment with different pans and baking dishes. You can make extra pasta and sauce and go extra deep dish. Once you get the hang here, you can take the general idea and run with it.
Close-up Overhead Shot of Baked Lasagna

Thousand Layer Lasagna Variations

Today I’m sharing the tomato-based “starter” version of this lasagna, but feel free to experiment through the seasons. I’ve done roasted butternut squash + brown butter, or pesto and ricotta – play around, but keep the sauces + fillings simple and (key!) not too chunky. Part of the magic comes from the baklava-like layering of the pasta, one on top of the next. There’s just enough going on between each layer to keep it all moist, flavorful, and feathery-light. Well, as feathery-light as lasagna gets.Individual Shot of Lasagna on a White Plate

This is such a fun lasagna to make. Particularly if you’re not in a hurry. Have fun, it’s worth the payoff when it comes out of the oven! 

If you’re looking for more pasta inspiration, here’s where you can learn to make fresh pasta. Homemade cavatelli is a blast, and I love this pesto forever, especially with this gnocchi

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A Tasty Frittata

The tastiest, super adaptable frittata recipe. Made with potatoes, onions, and eggs drizzled with a cilantro chile sauce.

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I make a lot of frittatas. They fill your belly, allow you to put neglected ingredients in your refrigerator to good use, and deliver a one-pan meal that is nutritious and filling. Breakfast, lunch, dinner – if you’ve got a six-pack of eggs on hand, a simple, satisfying meal is never more than a few minutes away.
“Frittata Recipe

Frittata Inspiration

This particular frittata recipe was inspired by a few things – a small bag of little potatoes I picked up at the market, and some delicious vegetables that came courtesy of a nutrient-packed mystery box I picked up regularly from Mariquita Farm when I lived in San Francisco. That’s what great about knowing how to cook a great frittata. You can switch it up using all sorts of different ingredients. And they’re great for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. 

The Special Sauce

I’ll let you in on a little secret, the magic touch in this particular frittata is the vibrant cilantro chile sauce I drizzle over the top of it. Drizzle the sauce over the eggs just before the frittata goes into the oven, then layer the potatoes and onions on top of the sauce – everything melds together into a color-flecked pan of deliciousness. The pumpkin seeds add just the right amount of crust – playing off the creaminess of the eggs and goat cheese. The cilantro sauce would also be delicious on Lori’s Skillet Smashed Potatoes or these oven fries.
“Frittata in a Cast Iron Pan

What is the Best Frittata Pan?

The main thing to think about when choosing a frittata pan is making sure it is oven-safe. I always reach for my well-seasoned cast iron pan. A lot of people like to use non-stick pans any time they cook eggs, and that is fine. For this recipe just be sure whatever you choose can handle a few minutes in a very hot oven. I love finishing my frittatas in the oven because they puff up, the eggs set up nicely, and the whole frittata comes together beautifully.

“Favorite Frittata Recipe with a Wedge Cut Out

Favorite Frittata Variations

I switch up my frittatas a thousand different ways. Some favorite ways: add a big dollop of green or red curry paste to the whisked eggs. Sriracha is also fair game. You can switch up the cheese, or nuts, or top them with just about any pre-cooked vegetables. I love broccoli, or asparagus, or mix chopped kale into the egg mixture.

Give this a try! Other favorite egg recipes include: deviled eggs, egg salad sandwich, this skinny omelette, and pickled turmeric eggs. If you’re looking for more brunchy breakfast recipes don’t miss this healthy granola, or the best waffle recipe, these homemade cinnamon rolls, classic pancakes, tofu scramble, Herb Cream Cheese Scrambled Eggs, and the baked oatmeal is always popular!

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Carrot, Dill & White Bean Salad

Warm, coin-shaped slices of pan-fried carrots, white beans, and herbs tossed with a tangy-sweet lemon shallot dressing. It tastes good the day you make it, even better the day after.

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I bought a single bunch of bushy-topped carrots the other day. At first glance it was a good looking cluster – bright orange in color with vibrant greens still attached. But it was on second glance that I noticed the tiny carrots nestled beside their larger brothers and sisters. Some of the smallest carrots were no thicker than a knitting needle, not much longer than my pinky finger. I snacked on those after a quick rinse. The bigger guys I put to work in this skillet-tossed, herb-flecked white bean salad.
Carrot, Dill & White Bean Salad Recipe

A Simple Skillet Bean Salad

This recipe isn’t complicated. Warm, coin-shaped slices of golden, pan-fried carrots, white beans and chopped herbs are tossed with a tangy-sweet lemon shallot dressing. It tastes good the day you make it, even better the day after. And although it’s certainly not as pretty, in my opinion, it might taste best on day three as the shallots infused the beans and the lemon mellowed.

Carrots and beans in a cast iron skillet

The Details

  • Carrots: When shopping for carrots, look for young carrots with their greens still attached. This is one way you can get a good sense of whether the bunch is fresh or not. Can you use standard grocery store carrots? Sure! Look for bunches with smaller carrots if possible. Or if those aren’t available, trim your carrot coins into half moons.
  • Beans: On the bean front, I tend to cook the beans from scratch. I like a creamy, smallish white bean for this salad. Alubia beans,  Peruano beans, and cannellini beans have all worked great. And yes! You can use well-drained canned white beans if you want to throw this together on a whim.
  • Herbs: I starting making this bean salad with dill. I like how dill is always a bit unexpected, and it works beautifully to cut the creaminess of the white beans, while maintaining an ability to stand up to the shallots and lemon juice. Basil is a nice alternative if you’re out of dill. Cilantro is great. I mean it’s hard to go wrong with your herb component. Use what you have.

Baby carrots and white beans

Make a Meal of It

This recipe has now been in our repertoire for a few years. One of my favorite things to do is make a double batch. It can hang out in the refrigerator for a couple days, no problem, and makes a great side to many meals. That said, I often turn it into a favorite dinner. Tossing the bean salad with any short pasta like penne, radiatore, or rigatoni and a bit of goat cheese is fantastic. To get a bolt of green into in the mix I often add broccoli florets, or asparagus segments to the pasta water at the last minute. Re-season with salt and lemon juice if needed.

Carrot, Dill & White Bean Salad in a Pink Bowl border=

Variations

There are so many different ways to re-mix this bean salad. Once you have the base of skillet beans and carrots, playing around with the dressing can take it in dramatically different directions. For example, you can skip the lemony-shallot dressing and use a thinned out pesto instead. The crushed walnut sauce I use here is another option.  I’ve also done a roasted red pepper puree thinned out with olive oil and boosted with cayenne for another twist.

Rachel D. mentioned in the comments, “…I added fava beans that I found at the UN Plaza farmers market (I thought fava season was over but I guess not!) and some preserved lemon. Also added less than the 2 tb sugar and it was sweet enough.” Love this idea.

Carrot, Dill & White Bean Salad on a Table with Two Glasses

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Baked Artichoke Dip

This simple artichoke dip hits all the crowd-pleasing notes of the classic version, but cuts way back on the mayo-bomb aspect. And guess what? No-one can tell the difference. I still use a bit of mayo, but incorporate some silken tofu and greek yogurt.

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The foundation of classic artichoke dip is basically the following: a can of artichokes (drained & chopped), a cup of mayonnaise, and about a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. The ratio might be slightly different depending on the cook, but many recipes for artichoke dip build on this adding garlic and other seasonings from there. My take-away? That’s a lot of mayo. Some recipes use an even higher ratio. The version I make hits all the crowd-pleasing notes of the classic version, but it cuts way back on the mayo-bomb aspect. Guess what? No-one can tell the difference.
Artichoke Dip with Cracker
I still use a bit of mayo, but incorporate some silken tofu and greek yogurt. I also up the ratio of artichokes to creamy ingredients. You still get indulgent goodness of the original, but this version puts the artichokes back up front, delivers some protein with the tofu and yogurt, and still retains the spirit of the party dip few of us can resist. So let’s get into the specifics.
Artichoke Dip Ingredients in a Blender

Smooth versus Chunky Artichoke Dip?

There is some debate regarding which is better – chunky or smooth artichoke dip? I prefer smooth. A quick pulse in a blender, food processor, or with a hand blender brings things together into a base that bakes up extra creamy. I’ve also found that kids tend to like the smooth version best. Probably because there is nothing identifiable as offensive in there. Laugh / cry. But if you like a bit more texture simply use chopped artichokes and skip the blending stage, or just go super easy on it.Blended Artichokes

Canned versus Frozen Artichokes?

Frozen artichokes are getting increasingly easy to find and, generally speaking, I like their flavor more than the water-packed canned artichokes. It’s kind of like the difference between canned corn and frozen corn. There’s no contest, frozen corn is going to be the winner every time, right? That said both canned and frozen artichokes work great for this recipe. I used jars of artichokes for the photos here and it was delicious as ever. The main thing is to aim for roughly one pound of artichokes – each jar or can usually yields about 1/2 pound of artichokes once they’ve been drained.
Pre-baked Dip sprinkled with Grated Cheese

Artichoke Dip Goes Great With…

The key here is crunch. Artichoke dip is creamy magic best scooped onto your favorite crunchy snack staples. For example:

  • Toasted Homemade Pita Chips
  • Toasted baguette slices rubbed with garlic
  • Seeded crackers
  • Crudités’
  • Tortilla chips or fresh tortillas

Baked Artichoke Dip on a Countertop with Crackers

Put it on Everything!

i alway regret not making more artichoke dip while I’m at it. At the very least a double batch. There are just so many fantastic ways to put it to use. If you make extra you’ve got a great component to slather on everything. Stop thinking of it as a dip and reframe it as a spread or stuffing. Especially this version. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Slathered across good pizza dough before baking. I especially love this for a spring-summer pizza with ingredients like fava beans, asparagus, and artichoke hearts. Dollop with a bit of great pesto or citrus paste just before serving.
  • Use leftovers as a dumpling or ravioli filling.
  • Dolloped on hot baked potatoes or baked sweet potatoes. Finish with something extra crunchy like fried shallots, sesame seeds or toasted almonds.
  • Seems obvious, but worth saying, it makes an incredible panini or sandwich spread. Even better on your veggie burger.
  • Taco Night! A slather on a homemade tortilla just before adding your other fillings is a thing of beauty.
  • It’s great as a replacement for ricotta in stuffed shells. Or you could go half and half. Throw some citrus zest in there while you’re at it.
  • Up your deviled egg game! Stir any leftover dip into your deviled egg filling, it’s an unexpected twist on classic deviled eggs.
  • Use it as a slather on bruschetta. Top with lots of chives and pine nuts.

Close up of Baked Artichoke Dip

Artichoke Dip Variations

There are so many ways to tweak this recipe. Here are just a few ideas.

  • Spinach Artichoke Dip – add a cup of well-chopped spinach (or frozen spinach) to your artichoke dip. You can add it to the blender ingredients, or you can stir it in later with the Parmesan cheese. The later leaves the spinach flecks visible for a classic spinach artichoke dip result.
  • Spicy Artichoke Dip – I already call for 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne powder in this recipe and that delivers a bit of bite. That said, you can swap in other spicy flavor profiles if you like. Start by swapping  in a tablespoon or so of any of the following, and adjust from there with more to your liking: green curry paste, green harissa, or zhoug.
  • Artichoke Dip Finished with Indian Tempering Spices – This is absolutely delicious. If you toast  a handful of curry leaves in a couple tablespoons of olive oil and then add mustard seeds, a bit of cumin, chopped garlic, and some extra crumbled dried chile you’ll have an incredible finishing oil. Pour, hot from the skillet, over the golden-baked artichoke dip just before serving.
  • Artichoke Dip with Garlicky Breadcrumb Topping – I usually finish this dip with a simple dusting of grated cheese. But if I’m feeling a bit more ambitious, I’ll pile a generous amount of day-old bread crumbs that I’ve tossed with lots of olive oil, minced garlic, and the grated cheese. It results in the perfect crunch top to counter the dippy smooth and creamy.

Baked Artichoke Dip in Ceramic Dish

One last thing – this is actually a great do-ahead recipe. You can bake it off in any sized dish you like and the smell of the baking artichokes and toasting cheese provides a deliciously fragrant backdrop to any get together. Pop the artichoke dip into the oven roughly half an hour before friends come over, just in time to welcome everyone!

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Heidi’s Coffee Cake

A stunner of a coffee cake with extra thick streusel topping and blueberries bursting into the tender crumb in dramatic fashion. Rustic and rye flour based.

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There are two main reasons people love this coffee cake. First, the streusel topping doesn’t skimp. There’s plenty piled on for the crumble fans. Second, it’s wonderfully rustic and full of freshly baked flavor. There are a lot of coffee cake recipes out there that are beautifully cinnamon-streaked and sweet, but I like a bit more depth and range of ingredients in my buttermilk-based batter. Rye flour, old-fashioned oats, and brown sugar are my secret weapons here.
Heidi's Coffee Cake

This is a great cake to go along with an afternoon espresso and chat with a friend. Or to take on a picnic or day in the car. It’s a stunner of a cake without being fussy. The blueberries burst and bleed into the crumb of the cake in dramatic fashion. The crumble crust plays off the tenderness of the cake nicely, so be sure to get a bit of it in every bite.
Berries for Coffee Cake

Favorite Coffee Cake Variations

Maple Huckleberry Coffee Cake: This has long been a favorite variation of mine. I like to add a bit of thyme and rosemary from my herb garden. Just a hint to play off the berries and perfume the cake – barely a whisper.  Swap in whole wheat pastry flour for the rye flour. And Add 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme and 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary. Lastly and the zest of one lemon to the dry ingredients of the cake. And if you can get your hands on wild huckleberries trade those in for the blueberries

Cherry Almond Coffee Cake: It’s cherry season right now, feel free to swap out the blueberries for chopped (pitted) cherries. Use chopped almonds in place of the walnuts, and almond extract in place of vanilla extract if you have it.

Michelle in the comments used chopped mission figs in hers, a brilliant idea. Generally speaking, on the fruit front, if it’s juicy, fruity, and goes with maple I suspect it’ll be good here, so play around.
Heidi's Coffee Cake

How to Store this Cake

I like to enjoy this cake warm, or at room temperature. That said if you have leftovers after a day or so I tend to slide it right back into the pan on its parchment paper, cover, and refrigerate from there for up to 4-5 days. Bring up to room temperature before eating or pop it a hot oven to reheat for ten minutes or so.

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Cucumber Salad

A refreshing chopped cucumber salad loaded with peanuts, spices, toasted coconut, and chiles.

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I have two new cookbooks on my desk. Two books to really dive into. Tender V.1 by Nigel Slater, and How to Cook Indian by Sanjeev Kapoor. Today’s Cucumber Peanut Salad was my first foray into Sanjeev’s book and it doesn’t disappoint – chopped cucumbers, spices, toasted peanuts, coconut, and green chiles come together in a refreshing but surprisingly substantial salad.
Spicy Peanut & Cucumber Salad

A Special Cucumber Salad

After my book signing in Berkeley recently, I was invited by the shop to choose and take home any book I liked. How to Cook Indian was it. I tucked the massive orange Indian volume under my arm, went home, and spent hours the next morning tagging recipes – so many! Today’s cucumber salad was one of them. I took a few liberties with it based on personal preference and the ingredients in my kitchen. I mean, that’s how I approach many recipes. I don’t always have all the ingredients on hand, but I try not to let that deter me. Instead of trying to get thing perfectly “authentic” or as written, I like the spirit of winging it a bit, based on what I think will taste good within the general framework of a recipe.
Spicy Peanut & Cucumber Salad
That’s what you see here. So, for this cucumber salad – I didn’t have the fresh coconut Sanjeev calls for, but I did have big, dried coconut flakes. I knew I could toast them, and they’d be great- so I went with it. I like to leave some of the peel on my cucumbers – so that is what you see here. That sort of thing. If like me you I forgot to grind the peanuts, whole peanuts are great here too.
Half-peeled Cucumbers

What Kind of Cucumbers Should I Use?

You have options! I grow multiple types of cucumbers in our garden. Favorite varietals for a cucumber salad like this include Japanese cucumber, lemon cucumber, Persian cucumber and English cucumber. Select cucumbers with healthy looking skins, and a plump, tense feel overall. You don’t want limp, sad, dehydrating cucumber. A long way of saying that choosing a great cucumber can be more important than the type of cucumber.
Spicy Peanut & Cucumber Salad on a Serving Plate
The perfect salad for a hot summer day. Pair this cucumber salad with whatever you have coming off the grill, it goes beautifully with so much. We’ve enjoyed it alongside kebabs, grilled quesadillas, veggie burgers, and tofu burgers.

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Braided Onion Bread

This braided onion bread is made with a rich, buttery, yeast-based dough. Each of the four strands in the braid is stuffed with a caramelized onion and grated cheese mixture.

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One of my first memories related to baking was a demonstration conducted at my kindergarten where bread dough was shaped into turtles, and birds, and elaborate braids. Scissors were used to create the tiny bread spikes on the backs of alligator and hedgehog-shaped loaves. Lobster claws got a snip up the center for visual effect and each figure was placed in an oven until puffy, golden, and fragrant. We were each allowed to take one home. The whole experience blew my five year-old mind. Braided Onion Bread filled With Caramelized Onions and Gruyere Cheese
I still like to bake elaborate braided loaves. Especially when things in my life are tumultuous. I made this one a couple of times prior to the holidays, and decided to make it again last week to photograph and share with you. It’s made with a rich, buttery, yeast-based dough. Each of the four strands in the braid is stuffed with a caramelized onion and grated cheese mixture. If you’ve never baked a braided loaf before, I’ll admit that stuffing the strands adds a layer of complexity, but the whole process is incredibly forgiving if you commit and keep going. If you look at the shape below and think “no way” just remember it’s a simple braid coiled into a snail shape. 
Braided Onion Bread Prior to Baking

The (Stuffed) Braided Bread Process

To make this bread you start by making beautiful yeast dough. You roll your dough into a rectangle, cut that rectangle into four strips, and then stuff each strand with awesomeness. I usually prepare the stuffing a day ahead of time, or the morning of the day I plan on baking. This gives the filling some time to cool. I’ve locked onto this onion-cheese combo lately, but you can imagine endless variations.

To fill the dough, you run the filling in a line up the middle of each of the four strips of dough. Fold them each in half, and then pinch the seam to seal the filling in. Now you have four filled strands that you’ll arrange side-by-side (below). Pinch them together at the top and start braiding (see diagram below). Coil the braid into a tight round, snail shape, let the dough rise, brush with an egg wash, and bake! 

Diagram of a Four Strand Braid

A Four-strand Braid

First, let me say – if you’re worried about trying the four-strand braid, I understand! If you want to fall back to a chubby three-strand bread braid the first time through, go for it. The main thing is to commit to the braid either way. Even if you’re convinced things aren’t going well. This feeling can be triggered by a few things. A common problem is strands splitting open to reveal the filling – just re-pinch and keep going. Or, you might feel like your strands keep stretching and getting longer and longer? It’s ok, you will coil them into a round shape. Keep braiding even if your strands are longer than your sheet pan. Boss the dough around a bit. If it’s too sticky, dust with a bit of flour. The main thing? Don’t get discouraged, keep going.

Braided Onion Bread filled With Caramelized Onions and Gruyere Cheese just After Baking
Please let me know if you bake a braided loaf, or send me a message on Insta. Or if you experiment with other fillings, please leave a comment. I can’t wait to see what you do with this one. I loved seeing all of you posting soup pics last week. xo – h

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Hazelnut & Chard Ravioli Salad

Ravioli salads are the best! Plump raviolis tossed with toasted hazelnuts, lemony chard, and caramelized onions are at the heart of this ravioli salad recipe. The colorful platter is finished off with a dusting of cheese, snipped chives, and lemon zest.

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If you’re invited to a potluck this winter, consider bringing this. I first published the recipe over a decade ago, and still cook it regularly for a whole host of reasons. We’re talking about plump raviolis tossed with toasted hazelnuts, lemony flecks of chard, and deeply caramelized onions. You’ve got crunch from toasted hazelnuts, and brightness from a bit of zest. It’s delicious, flexible, and totally satisfying. Also, appropriately, it makes a great vegetarian main for gatherings like Thanksgiving. I’ve updated and streamlined the instructions and ingredient list here so it reflects how I make it today. For example, I used to cook the chard on the side, but now I don’t bother, and just massage it with lemon juice. Little tricks and improvements, and in this case, one less pan to clean.

Hazelnut & Chard Ravioli Salad

You can prepare most of the components ahead of time, and throw it together in less than five minutes when you’re ready to serve it up family-style. Whenever I have a window in the days prior, I wash and chop the chard (or kale), caramelize the onions, and toast the hazelnuts.

Hazelnut & Chard Ravioli Salad

Keep in mind, this whole idea is super adaptable. You can play around with the type of raviolis you use – vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.

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Heirloom Apple Salad

The sort of hearty apple salad I love. It has heirloom apples, shaved celery, and toasted nuts of your choosing. The dressing is creamy and spiked with rosemary, garlic and champagne vinegar.

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If you’re looking for a simple apple salad, you’re in the right place. There’s a reasonable chance that you have the ingredients needed to make it sprinkled around your kitchen – on counter tops, or in the crisper. And if not, there are lots of ways to make substitutes. It’s hearty and substantial, colorful and crunchy – made with heirloom apples, shaved celery, and toasted nuts of your choosing. The dressing is crème fraîche (or sour cream) spiked with rosemary, garlic and champagne vinegar. 
Heirloom Apple Salad

Apple Salads – All About the Crunch

This salad is big on crunch. And that alone is likely the reason it has become a fall favorite. There’s crunch from crisp apples, celery, and nuts. Pair that with the creaminess in the dressing? It’s a nice contrast. My main tip? Seek out crisp apples with good flavor. And pass on mealy apples.
Heirloom Apple Salad

Substitutions

Think of this recipe as more of a sketch than anything else. I used arugula because it’s what I had on hand, but the baby gems at the market looked great and would have been a nice substitute. Same goes for the nuts. Toast whatever you have on hand – pine nuts, almonds, or walnuts. And on the dressing front, crème fraîche brings a beautiful luxe texture into the mix, but  you can certainly use sour cream or even yogurt, and whatever good-tasting white wine vinegar you like.
Slicing Apples for Apple Salad

Slicing the Apples

Another variable you can experiment is the cut of the apple. You can see my preferred slices up above. They thick enough to retain some snap, and bite-sized. I like them sliced this way so you can get a bit of everything on a fork – some arugula, apple, nuts, etc. But if you really love apples, add more and slice them thicker. I also have it in my notes to do an apple salsa of sorts – with everything chopped smaller & a few serrano chiles chopped and added to the mix. For use on winter panini, and the like.
Bowl of Apple Salad in the Kitchen

The Dressing

The dressing is great on all sorts of things. Not just apple salad. It’s decadent drizzled over roasted potatoes (or sweet potatoes!), as a finishing kiss for mushrooms, or as a slather on panini. I also love it drizzled over oven-roasted broccoli, or a medley of sheet-pan baked vegetables.Heirloom Apple Salad

Your Apple Salad Ideas

Over the years you’ve left some great suggestions and variations in the comments. I’m going to highlight a few and also encourage you to let us know of any riffs on the recipe you enjoy in the future!

  • Amanda says, ” I grated a half a celery root into the salad as well, which boosted the yummy celery flavor and added another texture. So good!”
  • Chase brilliantly swapped in pears, “I have made this salad 8 times in the last 10 days!!!! An instant favorite! Hazelnuts were the nut of choice and a pear/apple mix with some added Rosemary crostini crumbled in gives it a great crunch!!!”
  • Dana turned it into more of a main dish, “I added some cooked and cooled wheat berries to this salad and it was divine! Nutty crunch and great nutrition to bulk it up for a main course dinner.”
  • Kara introduced a few ingredients, ““Hallelujah!” is what I thought when I bit into this salad today for lunch! I substituted baby broccoli for the celery, used walnuts, and some sliced Parmesan.”

Have fun and poke around for more salad recipes, or more fall recipe inspiration. I love this Genius Kale Salad, this Shaved Fennel Salad from Super Natural Every Day, this pure Cilantro Salad for the cilantro fans out there, and for more of a main, this Hazelnut & Chard Ravioli Salad is always a go-to.

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