Warm Spring Veggie and Wild Rice Salad

This salad is so good!!!!!! I can’t use enough exclamation marks to convey how delish it is. Picture your favorite spring veggies (which can totally be subbed out based on what you have at home), loads of fresh herbs, warm and fluffy wild rice, and an easy homemade lemon vinaigrette drizzled over top. It doesn’t get much better than that, in my opinion.

This dish is hearty enough to be a vegetarian main for lunch or dinner, or serve it with a protein of your choice, such as grilled chicken or broiled salmon. It’s great for meal prep, too! If meal prepping, I like to pack it with an extra wedge of lemon to give it a bright pop just before eating. Let’s make it!

Ingredients needed to make Warm Spring Veggie and Wild Rice Salad

You’ll need a few cups of cooked wild rice and a boat load of veggies to make this salad. I’ve listed the ones I used for this recipe (also the ones I believe taste the best), but don’t be afraid to substitute, omit, or embellish as desired. No veggie is a bad veggie in this salad. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Wild rice blend
  • Radishes
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Shelled english peas
  • Scallions
  • Fresh dill
  • Fresh parsley
  • Fresh mint
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Honey
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

That’s really it! It sounds like a lot of ingredients, but the nice part is that most of them are found in the same area of the grocery store. So, you won’t have to do a lot of searching while shopping.

Tools used to make Warm Spring Veggie and Wild Rice Salad

I love this dish because it uses so few tools to pull together. I love batch cooking a grain on Sunday to use throughout the week ahead, so you could easily do that here! My favorite method for cooking wild rice* is as follows: combine 1 cup wild rice blend with 2 cups water or broth in the bowl of your Instant Pot, then cook at high pressure for 30 minutes. Let the Instant Pot naturally release the pressure and you’ll have perfectly fluffy (and hands-off) wild rice! Then, to make this a “warm” salad, I simply heat the rice over the stove or in the microwave before adding the other ingredients. You could do that, or just make your rice right before preparing the dish. Either option works.

If you cook your wild rice ahead of time, then your equipment list is literally this short:

If you cook your wild rice just before making this dish, you’ll need to add either an Instant Pot or a pot with a lid to your equipment list, as well as a dry measuring cup. Pretty simple stuff!

How to make Warm Spring Veggie and Wild Rice Salad

You’ll begin by cooking your rice, either in the Instant Pot or over the stove according to package directions. If using the Instant Pot, see above for my favorite method for cooking it*.

While the rice cooks, prepare the vegetables. Slice, dice, chop, mince, etc. and add it all to a bowl. To make the lemon vinaigrette, combine the juice of one lemon, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tbsp honey, salt, and black pepper and whisk until emulsified.

When the rice is done, add ~2 cups cooked rice to the bowl with the prepared veggies and herbs. Add the dressing and toss thoroughly, seasoning with additional salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm or chilled!

Looking for other salad ideas?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Celery Salad with Golden Raisins, Lemon, and Za’atar

Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Recipe Ingredients

1 cup dry wild rice blend

2 cups water or broth

3-5 small radishes, very thinly sliced or cut on mandoline

1 medium carrot, very thinly sliced or cut on mandoline

1 medium English cucumber, quartered then sliced

4 scallions, thinly sliced

1 cup shelled English peas, blanched

1 cup mixed herbs, minced (I used parsley, dill, and mint- but anything works!)

1 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tbsp honey

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Make the wild rice. Combine wild rice and water or broth in a pot and cook according to package instructions. If using Instant Pot, cook on high pressure for 30 minutes, allow natural pressure release, then fluff with a fork.
  2. Prepare the vegetables. Slice radishes, carrot, cucumber, and scallions. Mince the herbs. Blanch the peas by boiling them in water until they just start to float (about 2 minutes), then drain and immediately rinse with very cold water. Add all the veggies to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Make the lemon vinaigrette. Combine juice of 1 lemon, olive oil, honey, salt, and pepper. Whisk until emulsified.
  4. Once the rice is done, add ~2 cups cooked wild rice to the mixing bowl with the prepared veggies and herbs. Pour the lemon vinaigrette all over and mix very thoroughly.
  5. Season again with salt and pepper, and enjoy warm or serve chilled later.

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Celery Salad with Golden Raisins, Lemon, and Za’atar

Celery Salad with Golden Raisins, Lemon, and Za’atar is officially my segue into spring flavors. I love cold months so much, but one of the reasons I live where I do is for the distinct four seasons. If winter hadn’t already outstayed its welcome, it really made its place known with another unexpected, and pretty large, snow dump earlier this week. My car got stuck and I ended up staying late at work because I was literally trapped. Needless to say, I’ve had enough of winter.

Enter this celery salad and I was met with a little bit of joy in the otherwise cold and dreary days. It’s crisp, easy to pull together, and really adds an unexpected element to those heartier winter meals. I really love the balance in this salad!

This recipe was inspired by a favorite chef of mine, Joshua McFadden. His book, Six Seasons, is truly one of the most beautiful cookbooks I’ve ever read. Trust me- my collection is overflowing. In that cookbook, he has a recipe for a similar celery salad with dates, parmesan cheese, and various other delightful ingredients. This is basically a riff on that famous recipe. I took out the nuts that are present in his recipe and made the addition of za’atar in my recipe. I love nuts, but I found that we’ve been consuming a lot of them since adopting a gluten-free lifestyle. Whether its almond milk, almond flour, other nut flour blends, etc., it was just a lot of nuts. The za’atar is punchy and bright enough to stand up to the lemon in this dish, plus I just love the taste of it.

Nuts or not, this salad excels in every aspect. Read on for the how-to.

Ingredients needed to make Celery Salad with Golden Raisins, Lemon, and Za’atar

To make this celery salad, you really need to get yourself some celery. I implore you to skip the pre-cut celery hearts at your store and instead grab a full-blown head of celery, with the leaves attached. Those little celery leaves are so delicious chopped up and added into this salad, plus it’s just one other way you can reduce your food waste in the kitchen. Save the leaves!

Here’s everything you’ll need:

  • Celery
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Golden raisins
  • Lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Za’atar spice blend
  • Sharp cheese, such as parmesan, aged provolone, pecorino romano
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Tools used to make Celery Salad with Golden Raisins, Lemon, and Za’atar

This salad requires super minimal equipment. You’ll need a large cutting board, sharp knife, large mixing bowl, small mixing bowl, a whisk or fork, and measuring cups and spoons. Pretty simple!

How to make Celery Salad with Golden Raisins, Lemon, and Za’atar

To begin, combine the thinly sliced celery and leaves, torn romaine, and golden raisins in your large mixing bowl. I like to cut the celery on the bias to make it look pretty for serving, but you can cut it any way your heart pleases. I also like the rustic look of the torn romaine leaves, but you could roughly chop them if you must.

In the smaller mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, za’atar, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, stream the olive oil into the lemon juice mixture and keep whisking until a vinaigrette forms. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad, toss, and season once more with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving plate.

At the end, I’ll sometimes garnish with more golden raisins. Sometimes they sink to the bottom of the salad, and I like a few to be resting on top so folks know whats in the salad they’re about to eat. Finally, you’ll top it all with your shaved sharp cheese of choice. SO delicious!

Looking for other quick and fresh salads?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook

Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

Harvest Kale Salad with Butternut Squash, Blue Cheese, and Golden Raisins

Broccoli Salad with Quick Homemade Ranch

Charred Corn Salad with Cumin Lime Vinaigrette

Recipe Ingredients

8-10 stalks celery, stalks thinly sliced, leaves roughly chopped

6 romaine leaves, torn

¼ cup golden raisins

Juice of 1 lemon

Scant ¼ cup olive oil

1 tsp za’atar 

2 oz sharp cheese, such as parmesan or aged provolone, shaved 

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Combine celery and leaves, torn romaine, and golden raisins in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a smaller mixing bowl, combine lemon juice, za’atar, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, stream the olive oil into the lemon mixture and continue whisking until a vinaigrette forms.
  3. Toss the salad with the vinaigrette, season once more with salt and pepper, then transfer to a serving bowl or plate.
  4. Top with the shaved cheese and additional golden raisins if desired. Enjoy!

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Brie-Stuffed Soft Pretzels with Rosemary Butter and Fig Mustard

Brie-Stuffed Soft Pretzel Bites with Rosemary Butter and Fig Mustard are the perfect weekend baking project. Fluffy, cheesy, salty, and a hint of sweet from the fig mustard, these soft pretzels are easier to make than you probably imagine. With a little time and some good pretzel-twisting skills, you’ll have amazing homemade soft pretzels in no time.

Ingredients needed to make Brie-Stuffed Soft Pretzels with Rosemary Butter and Fig Mustard

To make these delicious soft pretzels, you’ll need a few basic baking ingredients like flour, instant yeast, salt, etc.. You’ll also need a good quality fig jam and dijon mustard, to make the sweet and tangy dipping sauce for these pretzels. Here’s the full list:

Tools used to make Brie-Stuffed Soft Pretzels with Rosemary Butter and Fig Mustard

The biggest piece of equipment required to make these soft-pretzels is a stand mixer. It is very difficult to knead the dense pretzel dough by hand, however if you choose that route be aware that you’ll need to knead for at least 10 minutes. The kneading happens much more quickly in the stand mixer, taking only about 5 minutes using the dough hook. Other than that, you’ll need a cutting board, a sharp knife, a small saucepan, two rimmed baking sheets, a pastry brush (optional), a small mixing bowl, and measuring cups and spoons.

How to make Brie-Stuffed Soft Pretzels with Rosemary Butter and Fig Mustard

These pretzels start with a fairly basic bread dough. You’ll combine yeast with the wet ingredients, then add in the dry ingredients to a stand mixer. Let the stand mixer do the kneading, then let the dough rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

Once the dough has risen, you’ll divide the pretzel dough into 8 pieces and roll each piece out into a long snake. Flatten the snake, stuff with a piece of brie, form the dough around the brie, then twist into a pretzel. Pretty simple! You’ll repeat this process for all 8 pieces of dough, then boil them in a pot of baking soda and water for 45 seconds each. Boiling in baking soda is what creates that classic pretzel flavor in the final product, so don’t skip that step.

Just before baking, you’ll brush each pretzel with a fragrant rosemary butter, which is made simply by melting butter and simmering it with fresh rosemary sprigs for 2 minutes. Bake the pretzels until golden brown, and that’s it! Serve with the fig mustard, which can be made in 3 minutes while the pretzels cool.

Looking for other weekend baking projects?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Classic Spice Cookies with Vanilla-Whiskey Frosting

Buttery Dinner Rolls

Gluten-Free Olive Oil Zucchini Bread

Recipe Ingredients

2 ¼ tsp instant yeast (one packet)

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 ½ tsp kosher salt

1 ½ cups warm water, heated to 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit 

4 ¼ -½ cups flour, may use closer to 4 ½ if needed 

4 tbsp butter

3 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 wheel brie, rind removed and cut into 8 equal pieces 

8 cups water

½ cup baking soda

Flaky salt or pretzel salt, to taste

¼ cup mayonnaise 

2 tbsp dijon mustard

2 tbsp fig jam

Salt and pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Combine yeast, brown sugar, salt, and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit for 3-5 minutes, or until bubbly. 
  2. Add the flour and mix on low with a dough hook until a dough forms, about 5 minutes. Shape dough into a ball and coat in olive oil, then cover and let rise in a warm area for 1 hour, or until dough doubles in size. 
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 8 equal parts. Roll each piece into a 12-16 inch worm. Flatten the worm with a rolling pin or your hands, then stuff with a piece of brie and wrap the dough around the cheese. Make sure the brie is completely encased in the dough, then twist into a pretzel. Repeat for the remaining pieces of dough until you have 8 pretzels. 
  4. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and rosemary sprigs. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the rosemary smells fragrant. Set aside.
  5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line two sheet trays with parchment paper. Boil the water and, once bubbling, add the baking soda. 
  6. Working in batches, boil the pretzels for 45 seconds, then place on the sheet trays. Brush with the rosemary butter and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pretzels are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes so the brie can set up slightly. 
  7. While the pretzels cool, make the fig mustard. Combine the mayo, dijon, fig jam, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until thoroughly combined. 
  8. Serve pretzels while still warm alongside the fig mustard. Leftovers keep for 1-2 days covered in the fridge. To reheat, simply place on a piece of foil directly on the oven rack and warm at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes. Enjoy!

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Buttery Dinner Rolls

When I set out to create a dinner roll recipe, I had a few criterion I needed to hit: I wanted a firm, somewhat crusty outside, a soft interior, and extreme buttery flavor. My mind immediately went to a crescent roll flavor, although I knew that crescent rolls were too soft on the outside for my taste. After a few failed attempts at dough (and maybe some tears), I finally got them to a place that I loved. These rolls hold up extremely well to things like Thanksgiving gravy and soup. There’s nothing worse than dunking a piece of bread into a bowl of soup and having it disintegrate, and these do nothing of the sort. I hope you love them as much as I do!

Ingredients needed to make Buttery Dinner Rolls

These rolls incorporate a lot of basic bread ingredients like flour and yeast. Here’s the full list of what you’ll need:

Tools used to make Buttery Dinner Rolls

You don’t need a ton of special equipment to make these rolls, but I do highly recommend using a stand mixer with a dough hook to knead your dough. This dough takes a good 10-12 minutes to knead properly, and that’s a lot of hard work if you’re only using your hands. It can be done without a mixer, just be prepared to work the dough a lot. I have a KitchenAid mixer that was passed down from my dad, but any brand of stand mixer will work.

In addition to the mixer, you’ll want a clean work surface, such as the counter or a large cutting board, to roll the dough on. You will also need a large mixing bowl, clean kitchen towel, small mixing bowl to melt the butter, kitchen brush to brush the butter (or use a spoon), sharp knife to divide the dough, parchment paper, and a large rimmed baking sheet.

How to make Buttery Dinner Rolls

These rolls require a little forethought to make sure you have enough time to let them rise, but otherwise they’re pretty easy to pull together. The dough begins like most yeasted doughs by mixing the yeast with warm milk. I warm my milk in the microwave in two 30 second runs. I stir it in between each run, then check it to make sure its between 110-115 degrees with my meat thermometer. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can test it by feel. It should be warm to the touch but not hot by any means. Think of what a hot tub feels like! If it’s too hot, you run the risk of killing your yeast.

Once the yeast and milk have relaxed together for a few minutes, you’ll add that and all of the other ingredients to the bowl of your stand mixer. I like to start by mixing it for 30 seconds or so, then stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides, then going again. Once the mixture is homogenous (roughly 1 minutes of mixing and scraping down the sides), you can turn the mixer up slightly and let the dough knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. The dough will be smooth with minimal puckering and will bounce back when you press your finger into it.

Roughly shape the dough into a ball and transfer to an oiled mixing bowl, then cover with a clean dish towel. Let rise until the dough has doubled in size, approximately 1 hour. I like to let my dough rise in a cold oven with the light turned on. The light creates the perfect, slightly warm atmosphere for the dough to do its magic.

Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few more times to shape it into an even ball. Using your knife, divide the dough into 16 equal parts and shape each one into a ball. Place equal distance apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with the towel, then let rise again for 30 minutes or until dough balls have puffed up slightly.

Now, you’re ready to bake! Well, almost. You’ll melt the remaining butter and brush that all over the tops of the rolls just before they go into the oven. That’s it! These little guys are so perfect in my opinion, and they really stand up to Thanksgiving gravy, making them the perfect vessel for sopping up every last bit on your plate.

Looking for other Thanksgiving-inspired recipes?

Butternut Mashed Potatoes with Sage Compound Butter

Favorite Roast Chicken

Sweet Potato, Celery, and Apple Bake

Recipe Ingredients

2 ½ -¾  cups AP flour, plus more for dusting

2 ½ tsp instant yeast

1 tsp kosher salt

1 cup milk, warmed to 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit

1-2 tbsp water

5 tbsp butter, melted, divided

Recipe Instructions

  1. Warm milk to 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit and whisk in the yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine flour, salt, milk-yeast mixture, and 2 tbsp of the melted butter. Knead with the mixer until a smooth dough forms, about 8-10 minutes. If the dough is too dry, you may add 1 tablespoon of water at a time. The dough should be smooth and not puckered, and should spring back when you poke your finger into it. If the dough does not spring back immediately, it needs more knead time. 
  3. Transfer the dough ball to an oiled mixing bowl and cover with a clean dish towel. Let rise at room temperature for an hour, or until doubled in size.
  4. When the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured work surface. Knead it once or twice to form an even ball, then cut the dough into 16 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, and place equidistant apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with the dish towel and let rise again for approximately 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush the rolls with the remaining melted butter, then bake for 27-32 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush with additional butter immediately out of the oven and sprinkle with chopped herbs (such as sage, rosemary, and thyme), if desired. Serve warm! Leftovers keep nicely on the counter in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Butternut Mashed Potatoes with Sage Compound Butter

Butternut Mashed Potatoes with Sage Compound Butter is my take on a classic mashed potato. I love a good mashed potato, but the combination of skin-on red potatoes with the butternut squash is something like magic. Especially paired with the extremely easy (but wow-worthy) sage compound butter, this dish is perfect for your Thanksgiving table. If you are a hard ‘no’ on leaving the skin on your potatoes, I totally understand. Peeling them is just fine and it won’t change the final taste much at all. I prefer to leave the skin on to get the extra nutrients that are found in the skin, plus I love the texture it adds. But, it’s your mashed potatoes, so do what you love!

Ingredients needed to make Butternut Mashed Potatoes with Sage Compound Butter

This dish couldn’t be easier to gather ingredients for. You need everything you’d expect from a mashed potato recipe, plus the butternut squash and the sage. It’s pretty simple to pull together. Here’s the full list:

  • Olive oil
  • Red potatoes, such as Norland
  • Butternut squash
  • Fresh garlic
  • Whole milk or heavy cream
  • Salted butter
  • Fresh sage
  • Salt and pepper

That’s it!

Tools used to make Butternut Mashed Potatoes with Sage Compound Butter

I talked about this briefly in my Fall Picks list, but I firmly believe that there is no better mashing tool than this stainless steel, old-fashioned masher. The one linked there isn’t the exact one I have (mine is a hand-me-down vintage piece), but it’s a similar idea. Using a food processor or other tool for mashing has always left me with chewy, rubbery mashed potatoes, which is just not what you’re looking for. We want creamy, fluffy, and light as our final product, and this masher does the job. In addition to the masher, you’ll need the following items to create this luscious recipe.

How to make Butternut Mashed Potatoes with Sage Compound Butter

One of the keys to getting the flavor right in this dish is to roast the butternut squash and garlic while the potatoes boil. You could easily boil the butternut squash with the potatoes, but you lose an opportunity for caramelization, which adds a ton of flavor to this recipe. I highly, highly recommend taking the extra step and roasting the squash. Just trust me. While the squash and garlic roast, boil the potatoes and make the sage compound butter.

Compound butter is just a fancy word for butter with flavor bits in it. In this case, we’re adding chopped fresh sage. The easiest way to make compound butter is to let the butter come up to room temperature so it’s easy to work with. Add the sage and butter to a mixing bowl and incorporate the herbs using a fork. When its fully incorporated, spread the butter onto a piece of large parchment paper into a rough log shape, then wrap in the parchment, using the parchment to help you shape the butter into a uniform roll or log. It’s way easier than it sounds, and it adds so much flavor to these potatoes! The compound butter needs to chill in the fridge while you make the rest of the potatoes.

Once the potatoes and butternut squash are cooked, you can mash them with the milk, butter, salt, and pepper, either in the pot you boiled them in, or in a large mixing bowl. I like to start with 1/4 cup of milk and add more as needed. You can always add milk, but you can’t take it away!

To serve the potatoes, make sure they are warm and top with the sage compound butter. I like to add a few pats to the top, then serve the log of butter alongside for guests to add as much or as little as they like. It’s so delicious!

Looking for other Thanksgiving recipes by The Ardent Cook?

Sweet Potato, Celery, and Apple Bake

This skillet bake is reminiscent of the flavors and texture of stuffing, without all the carbs. Perfect for a vegetable side, or as an option for your gluten-free guests.

Wild Mushroom Farro with Parmesan and Microgreens

Not a traditional Thanksgiving side, but since there are no rules this year, why not include a fun grain side? This Wild Mushroom Farro is perfect!

Apple Bourbon Spoon Cake

I’m a huge advocate of desserts other than pie on Thanksgiving, and this one is awesome to fill that void. Apples get cooked down in a delicious bourbon caramel sauce, then layered over a buttery shortbread-style crust with more shortbread crumbled on top. So good!

Recipe Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil, for greasing

2lbs red potatoes, such as Norland 

2-3lb butternut squash

3 cloves garlic 

¼ -½ cup whole milk or heavy cream

6 tbsp salted butter, softened to room temperature, divided

2 tbsp fresh sage, minced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cut butternut squash into half moons about ½ inch thick. Place on an oiled sheet pan with the garlic cloves and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway, until the squash are tender and caramelized. 
  2. Meanwhile, cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes and place in a large pot with water and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, then cook for 15-20 minutes, until fork tender. I do not peel my potatoes, but if you’re using a thicker-skinned potato (like russet), you may consider peeling. 
  3. Combine 4 tbsp of the room temperature butter with the sage and mix with a fork until the herbs are incorporated. Lay out a piece of parchment paper large enough that the butter can be shaped into a log and rolled up within the parchment. Chill in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve the potatoes. 
  4. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot you boiled them in, or a large mixing bowl. Add the roasted squash and garlic, along with remaining 2 tbsp butter, ¼ cup of the milk, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Mash until creamy, adding additional milk if needed to achieve your desired texture. Top potatoes with the sage compound butter just before serving. 
  5. To reheat these potatoes, I like to add them to a pot with 1-2 tbsp of milk per cup of potatoes. Stir in the pot until just heated and the milk is incorporated. Leftovers keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Sweet Potato, Celery, and Apple Bake

This Sweet Potato, Celery, and Apple Bake is an unexpected pairing of veggies and fruit that takes on the feeling and flavor of Thanksgiving stuffing… without all the bread. Not that bread is bad. You just maybe don’t want to devour an entire skillet-full of it on a day that isn’t Thanksgiving. Made entirely in one skillet or baking dish, this bake is quick, delicious, and perfect for an easy fall side.

Ingredients needed to make Sweet Potato, Celery, and Apple Bake

To make Sweet Potato, Celery, and Apple Bake, you’ll need a few key ingredients. The rest is simply for flavor, and you likely have most of it in your pantry already. The full list includes:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Shallot
  • Fresh sage
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Love a short ingredients list!

This recipe uses fresh sage. You can easily grow it, or it can be found in the refrigerated produce section in any major grocery store!

Tools used to make Sweet Potato, Celery, and Apple Bake

The best part about this bake is the low-effort clean up. All you need to make this dish is a sharp chef’s knife for chopping, a cutting board, and a skillet or baking dish big enough to fit everything. That’s it!

How to make Sweet Potato, Celery, and Apple Bake

This recipe is simple to make using only one skillet. You’ll begin by preheating your oven and chopping your vegetables and apples. Since the sweet potatoes take a bit longer to cook than the other produce, those get added to the skillet with olive oil, sage leaves, salt, and pepper, and baked for a few minutes ahead of time. Once the potatoes are partially cooked, add the apples, celery, and shallots. Stir to combine, then return to the oven to finish cooking. That’s IT. I love to serve this bake alongside roasted chicken or turkey, or as a topping over butternut squash or sweet potato soup.

Looking for other one-skillet recipes from The Ardent Cook?

Roasted Apricot Chicken

Cheesy Corn and Poblano Casserole

Chicken with Nectarines and Crispy Prosciutto

Recipe Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large sweet potato, chopped into ½-inch cubes

4 large sage leaves

2 medium tart apples, such as Pink Lady, diced

5 stalks celery, diced

1 medium shallot, minced

½ tsp salt

Black pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place sweet potatoes and sage leaves in a cast-iron skillet and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 12 minutes.  
  2. Remove skillet from the oven, then add the apples, celery, and shallots. Season again with a pinch more of salt and pepper. Toss to combine and return to the oven for another 15-18 minutes, until vegetables are tender and slightly caramelized around the edges. 
  3. Serve immediately alongside a protein of your choice. I have paired this with both roasted chicken and grilled sausages and it never disappoints. It’s also great as a topping for creamy soups such as butternut squash or sweet potato. Leftovers keep in the fridge for 3-5 days, so this is a great meal-prep option. Enjoy!

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad is a gourmet take on a traditional vegetable side. The days of steaming cauliflower are over and have been replaced by roasting. I know everyone is probably up to their ears in cauliflower recipes, from cauliflower rice to cauliflower mash to cauliflower Alfredo sauce. Lucky for you, I’m not trying to disguise cauliflower as anything but its own true self in this recipe, which is delicious!

Ingredients needed to make Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad

It goes without saying that you’ll need a pretty large head of cauliflower, or two small ones, to make this recipe. In addition, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • Jarred pesto (I prefer using store-bought here because we’re incorporating it into a dressing… if we we’re having pesto pasta, I’d obviously recommend homemade)
  • White wine vinegar
  • Honey
  • Pitted green olives
  • Dried cranberries
  • Slivered almonds
  • Salt and pepper

Tools used to make Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad

I always start this portion of the recipe by recommending you invest in a good set of knives. If you aren’t ready to take the plunge into a full knife block, at least get yourself a chef’s knife that has some weight to it. Here is the knife block set I’ve had for two years (and they still look and feel brand new), or an option for just the chef’s knife. In addition, you’ll need a cutting board, large rimmed sheet pan, and a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid (or a mixing bowl and whisk).

How to make Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad

I love this recipe because you can “set it and forget it” for the most part. The only real cooking involved is roasting the cauliflower, which takes about 20-25 minutes. During that time you can easily gather all the other ingredients you need, quickly toast the almonds in a skillet, shake up the dressing, while still having time to prepare the rest of your meal. When the cauliflower is finished roasting, you’ll layer on the olives, cranberries, and toasted almonds, then drizzle the dressing over the top. Give it a final season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper and you’re ready to enjoy!

Looking for other delicious vegetable sides?

Try these other vegetarian sides from The Ardent Cook.

Cheesy Corn and Poblano Casserole

Blistered Green Beans with Garlic and Ginger

Herbed Carrot Salad

Grilled Zucchini with Feta Cheese and Zesty Oregano Chimi

Recipe Ingredients

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets

2 tbsp olive oil

¼ cup jarred pesto 

2 ½ tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tsp honey

¼ cup pitted green olives, halved

¼ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup slivered almonds

Salt and pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place cauliflower on a large rimmed baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cauliflower is soft and has browned slightly. 
  2. Combine the pesto, white wine vinegar, and honey in a large mixing bowl or mason jar with a tight-fitting lid. Whisk (or shake, if using a mason jar) vigorously until the dressing is combined. 
  3. Toast almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir them frequently and watch closely until browned and fragrant. 
  4. Transfer cauliflower to a serving dish. Top with the olives, cranberries, and almonds. Drizzle with dressing and serve immediately, while the cauliflower is still warm. If you don’t use all of the dressing, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Turmeric Cauliflower Hummus

It’s Wednesday, which somehow always translates into us eating a slew of appetizers and calling it dinner. Luckily, our appetizer game has really stepped up from frozen pizza rolls to more sophisticated snack-age, like this Turmeric Cauliflower Hummus, so our Wednesday appetizer dinners actually feel nutritious.

Turmeric Cauliflower Hummus is exactly what you need to elevate any appetizer spread. It’s also perfect to make at the start of the week and portion out for lunches or mid-day snacks. I love to slather this stuff on toast in the morning instead of mashed avocado, and it’s so inconspicuously awesome. Give it a try and I’m confident you won’t be disappointed. Plus, it’s a great way to use up that head of cauliflower you bought but never figured out what to do with.

Ingredients needed to make Turmeric Cauliflower Hummus

It goes without saying, but you need a medium-large head of cauliflower for this recipe. The only other fresh ingredients you will need are a couple of garlic cloves, plus the juice and zest of one lemon.

From the pantry, grab your favorite every day olive oil, like this one, as well as good quality tahini. I love this brand because it’s the creamiest I’ve found, it has great ingredients (just sesame seeds), and it’s local to me! You’ll also need the following spices: cumin, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Pretty basic ingredients, right?

Tools used to make Turmeric Cauliflower Hummus

I’m pretty sure I say this in every post, but you NEED a chef’s knife. No more chopping vegetables with dinky paring knives. We are adults now. Buy this one, or one similar to it, so you can chop cauliflower like a boss. You will also need a food processor or high-speed blender to get the hummus to the ideal consistency. I use this for all kinds of kitchen needs, from purées to smoothies to chopping veggies. It’s so awesome and worth the money in my opinion. All other tools used for this recipe are likely already in your kitchen.

How to make Turmeric Cauliflower Hummus

I love this recipe because the cooking is minimal yet it easily pleases a large crowd. Simply steam the cauliflower until it’s very tender, then dump the rest of the ingredients along with the cauliflower into your food processor. Blend, and done!

You can make this recipe your own by adding more or less of the cumin or turmeric, or by adding whatever spices you enjoy. Using za’atar would be an awesome idea, or take a latin-inspired route and throw in some chili powder. No matter what, just make sure to drizzle the finish product with another generous stream of olive oil. It really enhances the hummus and gives it a richer flavor.

I love to top Turmeric Cauliflower Hummus with different varieties of olives, tomatoes, capers (if you’ve got them), fresh herbs, and anything else that feels right. A generous heap of feta would be a nice topping, as well. Don’t be afraid to make it a loaded hummus.

Looking for other dip ideas?

Give these other dip recipes a try for delicious and healthy crowd-pleasers.

Muhammara-Style Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Cheesy Black Bean Skillet Dip

Charred Sweet Potato Wedges with Roasted Corn and Goat Cheese Guacamole

Recipe Ingredients

1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets (approximately 3 cups)

2 cloves garlic

⅓ cup olive oil, plus more for finishing

2 tbsp tahini

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

¾ tsp salt

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp turmeric 

Fresh cracked black pepper

Olives, tomatoes, capers, fresh herbs (optional, for garnish)

Recipe Instructions

  1. Boil 2 inches of water in a medium pot with a lid. Steam the cauliflower florets until very tender, 5-8 minutes, then drain.
  2. Add cauliflower, along with all remaining ingredients, to the bowl of a food processor. Begin by pulsing a few times, then blend until the hummus becomes thick and creamy. If necessary to achieve desired consistency, you may add additional teaspoons of water or olive oil one by one.
  3. Transfer to a serving bowl or plate and drizzle with additional olive oil. Garnish as desired and serve with fresh vegetables or pita. Enjoy!

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Broccoli Salad with Quick Homemade Ranch

The end of summer is drawing near and people are beginning to get in their last socially distant barbecues. I’ve been invited to a few and this Broccoli Salad with Quick Homemade Ranch is what I’ve been turning to as my food contribution. Studded with crisp bacon, minced shallots, and chewy raisins, this easy Broccoli Salad is only made better by the homemade Greek yogurt ranch dressing. It’s a healthy alternative to store-bought ranch and takes less than five minutes to make, plus I’d argue it tastes better than the original!

Ingredients needed to make Broccoli Salad with Quick Homemade Ranch

The ingredients for Broccoli Salad are probably self-explanatory. I’ll give you a hint- they involve broccoli. You’ll need a large head of broccoli, one or two shallots, 6 slices of bacon, and raisins. For the Quick Homemade Ranch, it’ll require plain Greek yogurt, a few tablespoons of water, fresh parsley, fresh chives, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper! It’s simple and flavorful in under five minutes!

Tools used to make Broccoli Salad with Quick Homemade Ranch

Since there is barely any real “cooking” required for this recipe, the tools you need are minimal. As always, a good chef’s knife is essential in the kitchen for everything from chopping the broccoli to mincing the fresh herbs. Here is my favorite. In addition, you’ll need a medium skillet to crisp your bacon, such as this one. I love it because it uses hard-anodized aluminum to create a nonstick surface, rather than traditional teflon that can leach chemicals into your food. It’s durable and cleans SO easily.

Other than a knife and skillet, you’ll need a few basics such as a large mixing bowl, cutting board, measuring tools, and a whisk. Hopefully you already have most of those items stocked in your kitchen and can get right to salad-making!

How to make Broccoli Salad with Quick Homemade Ranch

This recipe involves very little real cooking, so it’s perfect to do with kids or if you don’t want to put forth a lot of effort. You begin by crisping up 6 slices of bacon, which is truly the only time you need to turn on the stove. Chop the cooked bacon, along with the broccoli and shallots, and add to a bowl with the raisins. To make the dressing, simply combine all remaining ingredients and whisk. Drizzle it over your broccoli and enjoy! I love to chill this salad for a few hours before eating, so it’s great to make-ahead or use for meal prep. The longer it sits, the better it gets!

If you’re a ranch fiend like I am, feel free to double the recipe and save whatever you don’t use on your salad for dipping veggies, pizza crust, or drizzling over pretty much anything. It’s so yummy and stores for 4-5 days when kept in an airtight container!

Looking for other healthy side dishes?

Check out these other recipes for some more of my favorite healthy sides.

Cheesy Corn and Poblano Casserole

Charred Corn Salad with Cumin Lime Vinaigrette

Blistered Green Beans with Garlic and Ginger

Crunchy Sesame Coleslaw

Recipe Ingredients

1 large head broccoli, chopped into small pieces

6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped 

1 shallot, diced

¼ cup raisins

½ cup greek yogurt

3-4 tbsp water 

⅛ cup fresh parsley

⅛ cup fresh chives

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

Recipe Instructions

  1. Crisp the bacon in a medium skillet until cooked through, then chop. 
  2. Chop broccoli into small pieces and add to a large mixing bowl, along with the cooked bacon, diced shallots, and raisins. 
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the greek yogurt, herbs, spices, salt, and pepper. Add water, tablespoon by tablespoon, and whisk until you reach your desired consistency. 
  4. Pour dressing over the salad and fold to incorporate. Chill for 30 minutes or overnight, then serve cold. Enjoy!

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Cheesy Corn and Poblano Casserole

I love nothing more than a summer bounty, and this Cheesy Corn and Poblano Casserole makes perfect use of late summer corn and all the poblano peppers dotting the stands at the farmer’s market. Plus, it’s made in one skillet!

Traditional casseroles, while delicious, are often loaded with heavy ingredients and leave you feeling bleh afterwards. This casserole is nothing of the sort. Loaded with cauliflower rice, fresh corn, slightly spicy poblano peppers, and lots of garlic, this easy side dish is flavorful enough to fool your old school grandparents, but healthy enough to have for a weeknight meal. It’s also topped with creamy gruyere and parmesan cheeses, which only makes it better.

This recipe, while naturally gluten free, can also easily be made dairy free to accommodate various diets. Simply substitute olive oil for butter, almond milk for the milk, and dairy-free cheese (or omit the cheese entirely) for the gruyere/parmesan. SO good. If you care for a spicier casserole, you could certainly add one or two jalapeño peppers along with the poblanos, which would also be delicious.

I hope you give this recipe a try and love it as much as I do. Please please please share your photos and tag me @theardentcook on Instagram so I can see how you liked it!

Ingredients

1 tbsp butter

2 poblano peppers, seeds removed, diced

1 medium yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp salt, plus more to taste

¼ tsp crushed red chili flakes

4 ears corn, husked and kernels removed from cob

1 12oz bag frozen riced cauliflower

¼ cup whole milk

¾ cup gruyere cheese, grated and divided

¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Heat a large, oven-safe skillet with the butter over medium heat. Once melted, add the diced poblanos and onions, and cook for a few minutes until the onions become translucent. Add the garlic, salt, and chili flake, and cook for an additional minute.
  3. Stir in the cauliflower rice and corn, folding until combined. Cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until most of the liquid from the cauliflower has evaporated.
  4. Add the milk and ½ cup of the gruyere cheese and stir until just combined. Top the entire skillet with the remaining gruyere and parmesan, and bake for 20-25 minutes. 
  5. Cook the skillet under the broiler for an additional 1-2 minutes to achieve desired browning, then allow the skillet to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!