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.

Miso Ginger Meatballs

Miso Ginger Meatballs are little bombs of umami flavor perfect for adding protein to any meal or serving as a delicious appetizer. Made using just 8 ingredients and baked in the air-fryer or oven, these meatballs are quick to whip up and great for meal prep, if that’s your thing. You may consider doubling the recipe if you’re feeding a larger family or adding them to lunches for the week, as this recipe makes approximately 15 meatballs.

Ingredients needed to make Miso Ginger Meatballs

As mentioned, you only need 8 ingredients to make these meatballs, and many of them are pantry staples. Here’s the list:

  • 85/15 grass-fed ground beef
  • Fresh garlic
  • Fresh ginger
  • Soy sauce or tamari
  • Rice vinegar
  • White miso
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Scallions (optional, for serving)

Tools used to make Miso Ginger Meatballs

To make these meatballs, you’ll really only need a few kitchen tools. The mandatory items you’ll need are as follows: cutting board, sharp knife, measuring spoons, mixing bowl, and an air fryer OR rimmed baking sheet (if using oven method). If you’d like to make your life slightly easier, I’d also recommend a #40 cookie scoop (this fits about 1 1/2 tbsp) to make sure each meatball is the same size, as well as a microplane or citrus zester for grating the garlic and ginger. Both of those items are completely optional, however. That’s all you need to make delicious meatballs in no time!

How to make Miso Ginger Meatballs

This recipe is as simple as combining all the ingredients, shaping the meatballs, and baking. It’s really that easy. No eggs, no breadcrumbs, no fuss. There is one caveat, which is that you really should use 85/15 ground beef. The fat ratio is very important to achieving juicy meatballs without adding extra ingredients, so don’t go any leaner than that ratio. I beg!

If using an air-fryer, I like to line the basket with parchment and bake the meatballs in two batches so they get nice and crispy outside while staying juicy inside. Adding all the meatballs at once would make for a crowded air-fryer and soggy, not crispy meatballs. If using the oven method, it’s helpful to line the baking sheet with parchment to minimize sticking, but you could also just spray your pan very well to avoid this issue.

Once baked, I let them cool slightly before topping with scallions (and sometimes cilantro) and devouring. They’re so delicious!

Looking for other make-ahead recipes for meal prep and beyond?

Try these ideas from The Ardent Cook!

Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Celery Salsa

Instant Pot Lemongrass Pork Bowls

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

Recipe Ingredients

1lb 85/15 ground beef

2 cloves garlic, minced or grated

½ inch piece ginger, minced or grated

1 tbsp soy sauce 

1 tsp rice vinegar

3 tbsp white miso

½ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

Scallions, optional, for serving

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the air-fryer or oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the air-fryer basket or sheet tray with parchment paper.
  2. Combine all ingredients except scallions in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Using a #40 cookie scoop, or a large spoon, scoop approximately 1 1/2 tbsp of the meat mixture into your hands and roll to form a meatball. Repeat until all the meatballs are formed.
  3. If air-frying, bake the meatballs in two batches. Lower the temperature on the air-fryer to 390 and cook for 9 minutes, then repeat with the second batch.
  4. If baking, add the meatballs to the prepared sheet tray and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches at least 155 degrees and the meatballs are beginning to brown on the outside.
  5. Garnish with sliced scallions, if desired, and serve hot. 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.

Baked Feta Pasta with Broccoli, Lemon, and Minty Kale Pesto

When I saw that TikTok pasta trend with the baked feta and tomatoes, I knew I had to try it (and try to do it better). I think I succeeded with this delicious take on the viral dish, but I’ll let you be the judge of that. I swapped tomatoes for broccoli for a little green veggie overhaul (and because tomatoes aren’t in season for me right now), then added fresh lemon to brighten the dish. The pasta is finished off with a quick pesto made with fresh mint, kale, olive oil, lemon juice, and spices and it really takes this pasta over the edge in terms of fresh flavor.

Ingredients needed to make Baked Feta Pasta with Broccoli, Lemon, and Minty Kale Pesto

If you’ve seen the viral video of this pasta, you probably know the majority of the ingredients you need. This recipe will not work with store-bought crumbled feta, so be sure to get an 8oz block. Here’s the full list:

  • Pasta
  • Broccoli
  • Feta cheese block
  • Olive oil
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Lemon juice and zest
  • Fresh kale
  • Fresh mint
  • Fresh garlic
  • Honey
  • Salt

Tools used to make Baked Feta Pasta with Broccoli, Lemon, and Minty Kale Pesto

To make this recipe, you’ll need a few kitchen tools. First, a large pot to boil the pasta, as well as a 9x13in baking dish. Additionally, you’ll want to have a large cutting board, sharp knife, food processor or high speed blender, a microplane or cheese grater (for zesting), and measuring cups. That’s it!

How to make Baked Feta Pasta with Broccoli, Lemon, and Minty Kale Pesto

You’ll begin by preheating your oven and bring a pot of water to a boil. Chop the broccoli into small florets and arrange in a baking dish around a block of feta cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, you’ll cook the pasta according to package directions, making sure to reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water just before draining.

To make the pesto, combine all the ingredients into a food processor or high speed blender, then blitz until a pesto forms. You may need to add more olive oil to achieve desired consistency, as well as additional honey and/or salt to taste.

Once the feta and broccoli have baked, toss the feta with the broccoli and pasta water in the baking dish to create a creamy mixture. Add the pasta and a couple tablespoons of the pesto and gently toss again, coating the pasta in the sauce. Top with lemon zest, additional pesto if desired, and serve immediately!

Looking for other delicious pasta dishes?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Wild Mushroom Farro with Parmesan and Microgreens

Creamy Green Goddess Pasta

Vegetarian Bolognese

Recipe Ingredients

For the pasta

1lb pasta

1 medium head broccoli, cut into small florets

1 8oz block feta 

½ cup olive oil, divided

¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Zest of 1 lemon

½ cup pasta cooking water, reserved 

For the pesto

Juice of ½ lemon

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup fresh kale, packed

⅛ cup fresh mint, packed 

1 small garlic clove

1 tsp honey

½ tsp salt

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange broccoli florets around feta block in a large glass baking dish. Drizzle all over with ½ cup olive oil, then season with crushed red pepper flakes. Bake for 25 minutes, or until broccoli is tender and beginning to crisp up. 
  2. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions, reserving ½ cup of the cooking liquid before draining. Set pasta and reserved water aside. 
  3. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, kale, mint, garlic, honey, and salt in a food processor or high speed blender. Pulse until a pesto forms. Additional olive oil may be needed to achieve desired texture. 
  4. Remove the baking dish from the oven and add pasta cooking water. Stir to combine immediately, mixing the feta with the water to create a cheesy sauce. Gently fold in the cooked pasta and approximately 2 tbsp of the minty kale pesto. Serve immediately, topped with fresh lemon zest and additional pesto, if desired. Leftover pasta can be reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave, and leftover pesto should be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 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.

Cold Brew Pancakes with Coffee Maple Syrup

Cold Brew Pancakes with Coffee Syrup are a delicious treat to cook up on a weekend morning. This recipe makes a large quantity of pancakes, making it perfect for a big family or to save as breakfasts for the week ahead. Each pancake is made using about 1/4 cup of batter, leaving you with dinner-plate-sized pancakes that feel like they came from a diner. This recipe was tested using both all-purpose and gluten-free flours, and it is important to note that the gluten-free flour behaved slightly differently in this recipe (see recipe notes below regarding flour amounts*).

Ingredients needed to make Cold Brew Pancakes with Coffee Maple Syrup

You’ll need a variety of ingredients to make these pancakes. Here’s everything:

Tools used to make Cold Brew Pancakes with Coffee Maple Syrup

There’s no fancy equipment required to make these pancakes, which makes them a great recipe for a lazy morning. No fuss, just delicious. These pancakes can be made using one skillet, but for efficiency you may consider using two. Here’s the full list:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Whisk
  • Small saucepan
  • Medium skillet, or two
  • Spatula

How to make Cold Brew Pancakes with Coffee Maple Syrup

To start, you’ll need to measure out the dry and wet ingredients in separate mixing bowls. *If using gluten free flour, start with 2 1/2 cups, then adjust if needed after adding the wet ingredients. If using all-purpose flour, 2 1/2 cups should be exactly what’s needed to achieve the correct batter consistency. If you’re looking for a reference point, think back to childhood when your parents made pancake batter from a box. It’s thin enough to flow steadily out of the bowl and into the pan, but not so thin that the pancakes can’t hold their shape once they hit the hot skillet.

Once you have your wet and dry ingredients measured out, you’ll combine them and adjust flour accordingly, as described above. It may seem “willy nilly” to approach a recipe by feel or looks, but I can’t stress enough the importance of adjusting as you go. This doesn’t always work, especially for baking recipes, but pancakes are forgiving enough to handle a little extra flour to achieve a thicker batter. Trust your gut, as they say!

Heat one or two skillets over medium-low heat and melt butter to grease the pans. Begin cooking pancakes, flipping once the top begins to bubble and the sides are setting up. I love to make these pancakes as big as possible, so I typically use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to drop the batter in and only cook one pancake per skillet at a time. If you prefer small pancakes, that works just as well.

While watching the pancakes, make the coffee maple syrup in a small saucepan. Combine the maple syrup, instant coffee, and cinnamon stick and heat gently until the instant coffee has dissolved into the syrup.

Stack the pancakes, pour over that syrup, maybe at a pat of butter, and enjoy! It doesn’t get much simpler than pancakes.

Looking for other breakfast ideas?

Try these ideas from The Ardent Cook!

Apple Spice Smoothie

Gluten Free Olive Oil Zucchini Bread

Double Chocolate Scones with Salted Peanut Butterscotch Glaze

Recipe Ingredients

2 ½ – 3 cups all-purpose flour (or 1-1 GF flour blend) (*see recipe note above if using gluten free flour)

2 tbsp baking powder

½ cup coconut sugar

½ cup milk or almond milk

1 cup (8oz) cold brew espresso

3 eggs

4 tbsp melted butter or ghee

1 tsp vanilla extract

Butter, for greasing the pan 

½ cup pure maple syrup

½ tsp instant coffee powder

2-inch piece cinnamon stick

Recipe Instructions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and coconut sugar. In a large mixing bowl, combine milk, cold brew espresso, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract.
  2. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet in the larger of the two bowls. Whisk to combine, and adjust flour amount as needed (described above*)
  3. Heat one or two skillets over medium-low heat with butter. Once the butter has melted, add pancake batter to the skillets about 1/4 cup at a time to create large “diner-size” pancakes. Let cook, then flip when the tops begin to bubble and the sides have started to set.
  4. Meanwhile, heat maple syrup and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, whisk in the instant coffee and continue whisking until dissolved. Remove from the heat.
  5. Serve pancakes hot with a pat of butter and a drizzle of the coffee maple syrup. 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.

Salted Raspberry-Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

If there were a treat I could eat every day for a year, it would be these Salted Raspberry-Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars. They’re basically giant chocolate chip cookies, in bar form, with raspberry jam swirled into them and sprinkled with flaky salt right out of the oven. What more could you ask for?

Ingredients needed to make Salted Raspberry-Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

These cookie bars used ingredients commonly found in chocolate chip cookies, with a few fun swaps. First, I like to brown my butter and chill it slightly before adding to the dough, rather than using regular softened butter. The nutty flavor it adds in unlike anything else and it’s a simple step that doesn’t require too much extra time. I also use a combination of store-bought raspberry jam and fresh raspberries mashed together to create an easy raspberry swirl, which really takes they cookie bars over the top and makes them perfect for Valentine’s day with the pop of red! Here’s the list of everything you’ll need:

Tools used to make Salted Raspberry-Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

I love using my KitchenAid stand mixer to create these delicious bars, but this recipe can easily be done by hand or with a hand-mixer. It’s totally personal preference there. Since we’re using browned butter in its liquid state in place of regular softened butter, the need for “creaming” the butter and sugar together is less important, so mixing the dough by hand is completely fine.

You can make these bars in whatever size baking dish you like. For a thicker bar, as pictured, I used an 11x7in pan. Alternatively, you could use a 13x9in pan for thinner cookie bars that cook in less time. You’ll need the following kitchen equipment to make these bars:

  • Electric stand mixer, hand-mixer, or mixing bowl and wooden spoon
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • 11x7inch or 13x9inch baking dish
  • Small saucepan
  • Butter knife
  • Parchment paper

How to make Salted Raspberry-Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

The process for making these cookie bars starts by browning our butter. This takes anywhere from 5-10 minutes, plus chilling time, and adds so much flavor to these bars, so I’d recommend taking the time to do it rather than using regular old softened butter. While the butter browns, you can gather your remaining ingredients and combine the wet ones in one bowl and the dry ones in another bowl.

Once the browned butter gets a 10-15 minute chill in the freezer, we’ll add it the rest of our wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients and chocolate chunks, and press the dough into a parchment-lined baking dish.

You’ll make the raspberry swirl by combining raspberry preserves with a handful of fresh raspberries and mashing it together. Then, you’ll drop spoonfuls right over top of the cookie bar dough in the baking dish and swirl it around using a butter knife. Bake the bars, let cool slightly, then slice and enjoy!

I love packing these cookie bars up into cardboard cookie boxes and adding festive ribbon for a sweet Valentine’s treat. We dropped some off to friends and neighbors the other day, and it made for such a cute little mid-week surprise ahead of this weekend’s holiday. See below for how I packed them up!

Looking for more dessert recipes from The Ardent Cook?

Check out these yummy ideas!

Classic Spice Cookies with Vanilla Whiskey Frosting

Peanut Butter Beach Berry Cobbler

Chocolate Pistachio Rice Crispy Treats

Recipe Ingredients

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter 

¾ cup brown sugar, packed

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (or GF 1-1)

1 tsp baking soda

¾ tsp salt

1 ½ cups chocolate chunks

½ cup raspberry preserves

¼ cup fresh raspberries

Flaky sea salt, for serving

Recipes Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a 9×13 inch baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. In a saucepan, brown the butter over medium-low heat. As the butter bubbles, push the foam out of the way with a spoon to monitor the browning solids. Remove from the heat once the butter turns golden-amber and transfer to a heat-safe bowl. Place in the freezer to chill for 15-20 minutes. 
  3. Once the butter has cooled, add to the bowl of a stand mixer and cream together with the brown sugar and granulated sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix again. 
  4. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate mixing bowl. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet until fully incorporated. 
  5. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and fold in the chocolate chunks. Press dough into the baking dish in an even layer. 
  6. Combine raspberry preserves and fresh raspberries, using the back of a spoon to mash the fresh raspberries into the preserves. Once combined, spoon little dollops of preserves over the cookie dough in the baking dish, then swirl it into the dough as best as possible using a butter knife. 
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes (if using a large baking dish, decrease the bake time to 18-23 minutes) until the cookie bars are golden brown and the middle is beginning to set. Let cool for 3-5 minutes, then run a butter knife along the edge of the baking dish and lift the bars out of the dish onto a cutting board. Cut into bars and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. 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.

French Onion Dip

French Onion Dip is one of my favorite foods on the planet. I’m talking the Lipton soup packet, mixed with an entire tub of sour cream, with heavily salted potato chips, ruining my dinner at family parties, etc. This homemade version completely tops the boxed stuff.

Low-and-slow caramelized onions are added to a mixture of sour cream and Greek yogurt along with some flavorful dried spices to create a dip almost identical in taste to the Lipton mix with the addition of real onions. From there, you can use any dipping vehicle you want to scoop up that goodness. It’s beyond delicious!

Ingredients needed to make French Onion Dip

The best part of this dip is that we use real onions to achieve the majority of that “french onion” flavor. They get caramelized slowly in butter, salt, and pepper, and add so much depth of flavor to this dip. I prefer to use yellow onions in this recipe, as their flavor enhances so much as they cook. Here’s everything you’ll need to make this dip:

Tools used to make French Onion Dip

French Onion Dip comes together quickly and using minimal kitchen equipment. You’ll need a cutting board, a sharp knife, a cast-iron or non-stick skillet, a large mixing bowl, a silicon scraper/spatula, and measuring cups and spoons. That’s it!

How to make French Onion Dip

The hardest part of making this French Onion Dip is slicing and caramelizing the onions. This takes anywhere from 20-40 minutes, depending on how deeply caramelized you’d like your onions to be. I tend to like mine with a slight bite left to them, so I’ll opt for the 20-25 minute range, but you can let yours go as long as you desire as long as they aren’t burning!

You’ll start by melting butter in a cast-iron or non-stick skillet and thinly slicing your onions. Add the onions to the skillet along with a pinch each of salt and pepper and cook them over low-medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden and very fragrant, at least 20 minutes but up to 40 minutes. While the onions caramelize, you’ll mix together the sour cream, Greek yogurt, dried parsley, dried dill, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Once the onions are cooked, fold them into the dip, reserving about 1/8 cup to garnish on top of the dip. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl, then spoon the reserved onions over top of the dish. Serve with chips, pretzels, and freshly cut vegetables.

Looking for other delicious dips?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Baked Goat Cheese with Herbed Orange Olives

Pomegranate Goat Cheese Guacamole

Muhammara-Style Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Recipe Ingredients

2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp butter

2 cloves garlic

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce 

¾ cup sour cream

1 cup plain greek yogurt

1 tsp salt, plus more to taste

¼ tsp black pepper

1 tsp dried parsley

½ tsp dried dill

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion powder

Recipe Instructions

  1. Heat a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over low-medium heat and melt the butter. Add the thinly sliced onions and stir to coat in the melted butter. Season with salt and pepper. Let cook, stirring frequently, for at least 20 minutes or up to 40 minutes, until caramelized. If the onions begin to burn or take on color too quickly, lower the heat.
  2. Once the onions have caramelized to your desired level, remove from the heat and stir in the Worcestershire sauce.
  3. Meanwhile, make the rest of the dip. Combine sour cream, Greek yogurt, dried parsley, dried dill, garlic powder, and onion powder in a mixing bowl. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the caramelized onions, reserving about 1/8 cup as garnish.
  4. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl and spoon the reserved onions over the top. Serve with pretzels, chips, and fresh cut vegetables. 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.

Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Celery Salsa

Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Celery Salsa are your new favorite way to eat buffalo chicken. Perfect for a quick dinner, party appetizer, or game-day treat, these tacos are simple to pull together and crisp up in the oven in no time. Plus, the celery salsa is unexpected in the best way. Yes, you read that right, I said celery salsa. Never heard of it? I hadn’t either until I dreamed up this recipe and honestly, I was unsure of myself when I got in the kitchen to test it out. But trust me, you do NOT want to skip out on making this delicious condiment. Let’s get to making some tacos!

Ingredients needed to make Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Celery Salsa

This recipe calls for cooked and shredded chicken, which is simple to do on the stove, in the Instant Pot, or pulled from a store-bought rotisserie chicken ahead of time. I love to make mine in the Instant Pot with a little splash of water and hot sauce then cooked on high pressure for 12 minutes. It shreds in seconds between two forks every time. Once you’ve got your cooked chicken, the recipe comes together in a snap. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Hot sauce
  • Butter
  • Coconut or brown sugar
  • Soft corn tortillas
  • Avocado oil
  • Grated/shredded cheddar cheese
  • Celery
  • Jalapeno
  • Red onion
  • Cilantro
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Avocado
  • Salt

Tools used to make Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Celery Salsa

When it comes to recipes, this one requires minimal tools to execute it. All you really need is a medium saucepan, two sheet trays, a knife, a cutting board, and a mixing bowl. That’s it!

How to make Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Celery Salsa

As mentioned above, you’ll need to cook and shred 1-1.5lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breast ahead of time. You could do this in the Instant Pot as described above, or simply grab yourself a rotisserie chicken from the store and shred it. Either way, once you have your shredded chicken, this recipe takes less than 30 minutes to pull together.

You’ll make a simple wing sauce by combining hot sauce, butter, and either coconut or brown sugar and simmering it for a few minutes on the stove until the sugar has dissolved. Add the shredded chicken and stir to thoroughly combine.

Next, you’ll microwave some corn tortillas for about 30 seconds until they’re very pliable. Lay them flat on a sheet tray and brush each side with avocado oil, then layer on some shredded cheddar on the top half of each tortilla. Add buffalo chicken on top followed by a bit more cheese, then fold the tortillas over to create a taco. It’s helpful to flip each taco over (onto the side that you first put the cheese on) to help them stay closed, and you can also place another sheet tray on top to help them stay closed for the first few minutes of cooking. Let them bake for 10-12 minutes total, removing the top sheet tray after 3 minutes or so, then flipping over halfway through to allow the other side to crisp.

While the tacos bake, make the celery salsa. Combine the celery, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, fresh lime juice, and a pinch of salt and mix. Set aside.

Finally, you’ll top the tacos with the celery salsa and some fresh avocado and enjoy!

Looking for more easy dishes like these tacos?

Try these other recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Creamy Sausage and Kale Rigatoni

Mom’s Checkerboard Chicken Chili

Broccoli Salad with Quick Homemade Ranch

Recipe Ingredients

1- 1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 2 breasts), cooked and shredded

⅓- ½ cup hot sauce, such as Frank’s, divided

2 tbsp butter

1 ½ tbsp coconut or brown sugar

12-15 soft corn tortillas

2 tbsp avocado oil

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

5 stalks celery, finely diced 

1 small jalapeno, seeded and finely diced

½ red onion, finely diced

¼ cup cilantro, chopped 

Juice of ½ lime

Salt

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium saucepan, combine hot sauce, butter, and coconut sugar and simmer for 3-4 minutes until sugar has dissolved. Stir in the shredded chicken and fully coat in the buffalo sauce.
  2. Microwave the corn tortillas for 20-30 seconds until very pliable. Place them on one of the sheet trays and brush both sides with avocado oil. Working only in the top semicircle of each tortilla, layer some shredded cheese, buffalo chicken, then more shredded cheese. Fold the tortilla over to form a taco, and repeat until all tacos are filled and folded.
  3. If the tacos aren’t staying closed, place the second sheet tray on top of the tortillas to help them stay shut. Bake for 2 minutes, then remove the sheet tray and continue baking for an additional 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the tacos are crispy and the cheese is melted.
  4. While the tacos bake, make the celery salsa. Combine the celery, jalapeño, red onion, cilantro, fresh lime juice, and salt to taste. Mix well and set aside.
  5. Let the tacos cool slightly, then serve topped with the celery salsa and fresh avocado. These tacos also taste wonderful with a side of ranch or bleu cheese dressing and extra hot sauce. 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.

Pork Chile Verde

Pork Chile Verde is an easy and delicious way to infuse some flavor into your weekly meals. Made in either the Instant Pot or slow-braised in the oven or slow-cooker, this pork is delicious served in tacos, over nachos, alongside veggies or a crunchy salad, or as is. My own personal favorite way to eat this pork chile verde is to stir in some fresh or frozen corn, canned beans, diced zucchini, and some greens like spinach or kale for a flavorful pork stew topped with radishes and whatever cheese I’ve got on hand. It’s SO good and perfect for a cold winter meal. Read on for the recipe as well as three different methods to cook this chile verde (Instant Pot, slow-cooker, or oven)!

Ingredients needed to make Pork Chile Verde

To start this recipe, you can choose between making your own salsa verde or using a store-bought ones. Both options are great, but I will say that the homemade salsa verde is next-level. Using just a few fresh ingredients, your broiler, and a blender, you can have homemade salsa verde in under 15 minutes. It’s AMAZING. Here’s everything you’ll need:

For the salsa verde:

  • Fresh tomatillos
  • Poblano peppers
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Yellow or white onion
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro

For the pork:

Tools used to make Pork Chile Verde

Depending on which method you choose to make this chile verde, and whether you choose to make your own salsa, the tools required to execute this dish will vary. Luckily, there isn’t anything out of the ordinary required! I’ll list the tools needed if you make the recipe exactly as written, including the homemade salsa verde. Here’s the list:

For the salsa verde:

  • Rimmed sheet tray
  • High-speed blender

For the pork:

  • Sharp chef’s knife
  • Instant pot, slow cooker, or large Dutch oven with a lid
  • Tongs
  • Two forks, for shredding meat

How to make Pork Chile Verde

This recipe looks and sounds a bit more complicated than it looks. You’ll begin by preparing your vegetables to roast under the broiler. Remove the husks from your tomatillos, halve and seed the peppers, remove the skin and quarter the onion, and peel the garlic cloves and add to a sheet tray. Drizzle all over with avocado oil, then place on the top rack directly under the broiler. Let them roast approximately 10-12 minutes until the skins are charred and the vegetables have begun to release their juices and soften. Add everything to a high-speed blender with a pinch of salt and pureé until smooth.

Once you’ve made your salsa, you’ll want to prepare the pork for searing. Cut it into roughly 2-inch pieces and heat some avocado oil in your cooking vessel of choice. My preferred method is the Instant Pot for time’s sake, but using a slow cooker or Dutch oven works great as well. Be sure to see the full slow cooker instructions in the recipe below, as you’ll need to sear the meat in a different pot before adding to the slow cooker.

Sear the meat in the hot oil, working in batches to avoid crowding the pan. Once all the meat is seared, add it back to the pot and cover with the salsa verde and chicken broth. Stir in the cumin, oregano, and a pinch each of salt and pepper, and let it cook!

You’ll know the meat is finished when it is falling apart and easily shreds using two forks. Serve this pork inside tacos or over nachos, with added veggies for a quick stew, or scooped onto a fork and devoured as is.

Looking for other easy and flavorful protein options?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Harissa Chicken Thighs

Gorgonzola-Stuffed Chicken with Delicata Squash

Mediterranean Grilled Strip Steak

Recipe Ingredients

1 pound fresh tomatillos, husks removed, quartered

2 large poblano peppers, halved and seeded

2 jalapeño peppers, halved and seeded

1 yellow onion, skinned and cut into 6 wedges

4 cloves garlic, skinned

1 cup cilantro leaves and stems, packed

2.5-3 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

2 Tbsp avocado oil

2 cups chicken broth

1 tsp ground cumin

1 Tbsp dried oregano

Juice of 1 lime

Salt and pepper, to taste

Fresh radishes, thinly sliced (optional, for serving)

Additional cilantro, for serving

Recipe Instructions

For the salsa verde

  1. Prepare vegetables as directed and add to a large rimmed sheet tray. Drizzle with avocado oil and broil on high on the top rack of the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until skins are black and blistered and vegetables are beginning to soften and release their juices.
  2. Add to a high-speed blender with a pinch of salt and blend until smooth. Adjust seasonings as needed to taste. Set aside. Alternatively, one 16oz jar of store-bought salsa verde may be substituted.

Instant Pot Method (preferred)

  1. Prepare pork as directed and season all over with salt. Turn the Instant Pot to the sauté function and heat avocado oil. Working in batches, sear the pork on all sides.
  2. Add all of the seared pork back into the IP and top with the salsa verde, chicken broth, cumin, oregano, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Close the lid and place vent to “sealing” position, then cook on manual high pressure for 35 minutes. Allow for 10-15 minutes of natural pressure release, then quick release the remaining steam before opening the lid.
  3. Shred the pork using two forks. Stir in the fresh lime juice and taste the chile verde for salt and pepper, then add to taste. Top with thinly sliced radishes and cilantro, or add to tacos, nachos, a stew, or enjoy with eggs in the morning.

Slow-Cooker Method

  1. Prepare pork as directed and season all over with salt. Heat avocado oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and sear the pork on all sides, working in batches as necessary to avoid crowding the pan.
  2. Transfer the seared pork to the slow-cooker and top with the salsa verde, chicken broth, cumin, oregano, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Cook on low for 5-6 hours, or on high for 2.5-4 hours. The meat is finished when it is falling apart and easily shreds using two forks.
  3. Shred the meat, then stir in the fresh lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with thinly sliced radishes and cilantro, or add to tacos, nachos, a stew, or enjoy with eggs in the morning.

Oven Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare pork as directed and season all over with salt. Heat avocado oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and sear the pork on all sides, working in batches as necessary to avoid crowding the pan.
  2. Add all of the seared pork to the Dutch oven and top with the salsa verde, chicken broth, cumin, oregano, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Cover and bake for 1.5-2.5 hours, checking periodically, until the pork is falling apart and easily shreds using two forks.
  3. Shred the meat, then stir in the fresh lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with thinly sliced radishes and cilantro, or add to tacos, nachos, a stew, or enjoy with eggs in the morning.

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.

Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad is a healthy main-course salad that still feels hearty and keeps you full. Loaded with crisp veggies, salty feta, and slightly spicy harissa chicken thighs, this salad is perfect for a weeknight or busy weekend meal. To save even more time, you can buy pre-marinated harissa chicken thighs from everyone’s favorite grocer, Trader Joe’s, or try my delicious copycat recipe, available here. I love topping this salad with a quick homemade lemony herb dressing (details included in recipe), but if you aren’t in the mood to make your own, I would highly recommend a store-bought ranch.

Ingredients needed to make Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

My recipe for Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad includes some of my favorite veggies to add to a salad, but don’t let me stop you there. In my experience, the more a salad has in it, the better it gets. This would also be delicious with some halved cherry tomatoes, a different kind of cheese, fresh corn, roasted broccoli, etc. The options for customization are endless! Here’s the full list of ingredients for the salad:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Harissa chicken thighs (recipe here)
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Radishes (I love watermelon radishes in this salad)
  • Avocado
  • Feta cheese
  • Pomegranate arils
  • Crispy chickpeas
  • Cilantro

If you also want to make my favorite easy dressing that compliments this salad perfectly, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Tahini
  • Dijon mustard
  • Lemon juice
  • Cilantro
  • Salt and pepper

Tools used to make Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

This salad comes together using the most minimal of kitchen tools. All you need is a few kitchen staples and you’re ready to eat! I used the following tools to make this salad happen:

  • Large cutting board
  • Chef’s knife
  • Large mixing bowl or serving plate
  • Small mixing bowl, optional if making homemade dressing
  • Measuring cups and spoons, optional if making homemade dressing
  • Whisk, optional if making homemade dressing
  • Air fryer, optional if making homemade crispy chickpeas

How to make Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

This dish is as simple as chopping and plating. If you plan to make your own harissa chicken thighs using my recipe, you’ll want to do that as the first step. The chicken thighs don’t take very long as they’re absolutely worth the effort, trust me!

You’ll begin by chopping everything you need for the salad, including the lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, avocado, and cilantro. Add it all to a large mixing bowl or serving plate, crumble the feta and sprinkle the pomegranate arils on top, then add the crispy chickpeas. You can make these using a simple recipe for Air Fryer crispy chickpeas, available here, or just grab a bag of them already made from the store.

To make the lemony herb dressing, combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Alternatively, you could add all ingredients to a food processor or high-speed blender for an even smoother consistency, but I personally enjoy the texture of the chopped herbs in this dressing. Both methods are excellent and the flavor remains the same!

Slice the chicken and add it to the salad, then drizzle all over with the lemony herb dressing (or dressing of your choice)! It’s so good and the perfect hearty salad for any day of the week.

Looking for other simple, healthy recipes?

Try these ideas from The Ardent Cook

Honey Sesame Chicken with Broccoli

Instant Pot Lemongrass Pork Bowls

Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Recipe Ingredients

2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped

Harissa Chicken Thighs, cooked and chopped (store-bought available at Trader Joe’s, or homemade)

1 large cucumber, seeded and chopped

2 medium carrots, thinly sliced or shredded

Handful of assorted radishes, thinly sliced 

1 avocado, quartered 

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled 

1/4 cup pomegranate arils

1/2 cup crispy chickpeas (store-bought, or homemade)

1/8 cup cilantro, chopped, for serving

For the Lemony Herb Dressing

⅛ cup tahini

Juice and zest of 1 whole lemon

1 TBSP dijon mustard

⅛ cup finely chopped cilantro

3 TBSP water, or more if thinner consistency is desired

Salt and pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Combine the chopped lettuce, cucumber, carrots, radishes, avocado, and cilantro in a large mixing bowl or arrange on a serving plate. Crumble the feta and scatter the pomegranate arils and crispy chickpeas on top.
  2. Make the dressing, if using. Add the tahini, lemon juice and zest, dijon mustard, cilantro, water, salt, and pepper to a small mixing bowl and whisk until combined.
  3. Slice the chicken and arrange it on top of the salad. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately. To store in the fridge, do not dress the salad. Leftovers keep very well undressed in an airtight container, with the dressing added once you are ready to eat. 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.