10 Genius Recipes You Didn't Care About in 2015 (And Why You Should)

January 20, 2016

Recently, I shared the Top 10 Genius Recipes of 2015, and there were lots of pretty obvious prom queens in the bunch: your predictable crispy chicken, your vegan chocolate chip cookies. Of course they were well-loved!

But I always did have a thing for the underdog. Below are the Genius Recipes you paid the least attention to last year, and a case for giving each one more try.

"But why?" you may ask. "Why should I bother with these ten recipes, which in their entirety got fewer eyeballs than Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk alone?"

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For one thing, I probably screwed up the first time—I didn't write a good headline or publish it at the right time. But you'll also notice a pattern: These 10 recipes are often quite practical, and healthful, and decidedly not french fries. They're a little kooky, and take a little imagination. But all of them are genius, if you know what to look for. Below, I've stood behind them, one more time.

Why you didn't care: Asparagus with what now?

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Top Comment:
“But i dont like burnt toast or bitter flavors so burnt toast pureed into soup still just isn't appealing. And as much as i like endive my wallet doesn't- they're $2 per small head now (i could easily eat three myself!) so that's gonna have to wait.... ”
— Ttrockwood

Why you should: You would top asparagus with hollandaise, right? This is easier, and better.

Why you didn't care: Bran muffins will never be cookies.

Why you should: These are the best ones. Instead of processed cereals (or extra sugar or oils), Silverton uses jammy, puréed raisins so the muffins stay moist and downright sexy.

Why you didn't care: Maybe you thought you needed to make sourdough?

Why you should: You have leftover bread all the time. And it can make your salad dressing creamy!

Why you didn't care: Perhaps I wasn't clear—it's not 15 minutes of simmer time, but literally 15 minutes, start to finish. Most of that is waiting for the water to boil.

Why you should: Herbs and leftover ginger nubs and chiles never need to wilt in your fridge again. In 15 minutes, they can grow up to be soup.

Why you didn't care: You stopped reading before the last 3 words.

Why you should: You haven't had a more flavorful lentil soup, from humbler ingredients.

Why you didn't care: You prefer dry toast.

Why you should: It has cornichon juice in it! And mustard, and bacon! You get to burn toast on purpose! And as weird as it all sounds, it's a bowl of straight comfort.

Why you didn't care: There was some justifiable consternation about the original published name of this recipe (née Escarole Salad, though it contains no escarole).

Why you should: Even if you can't find Belgian endive (or puntarelle), you should still make this dressing, which features lots of anchovy and lots of garlic, and ice to calm it all down.

Why you didn't care: Maybe it was too close to Christmas. Or maybe you didn't believe me about the evaporated milk.

Why you should: Laurie Colwin's recipe puts the spinach in creamed spinach—it's a hearty side with a good knuckle-rap of spice. It will make you feel like Popeye, and not like you've just spent all night at a steakhouse.

Why you didn't care: Marrying chickpeas and spinach wasn't a problem you had.

Why you should: You can make a sauce out of anything if you mush stale bread into it. It's like gazpacho you eat with a fork!

Why you didn't care: The term fat-free. This isn't a SnackWell's commercial!

Why you should: How about some sexier adjectives? Tangy, garlicky, crunchy, fiery, sweet, herby… icy? Yes! Pretend there's fat in it if you want.

Why you didn't care: It was late in asparagus season and the last thing you wanted was to eat more of it.

Why you should: Next season (and the next), you're going to feel queasy about throwing away those bottoms all over again.

Why you didn't care: You were busy eating Thanksgiving dinner.

Why you should: The Silver Palate gave you the best dinner parties of your life in the 1980s—it's the least you could do. Plus, there are garlic cloves poached in bacon fat. Make this with leftover roast chicken, stat.

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • witloof
  • EL
  • Scribbles
  • Valerie Gutchen Arnade
    Valerie Gutchen Arnade
  • Ttrockwood
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


witloof February 4, 2016
Just to say that I find this article incredibly charming.
EL January 25, 2016
I assume that you are mentioning that no one even looked at the poor little orphans mentioned above. I do try to look at all the genius recipes, but don't have a lot of time (so haven't made it through all of them, plus your site makes my ipad crash numerous times). With that said, see the following. . .

In addition to the above reasons for looking at the bottom ten recipes -- You might also add that some of us tried the top ten, but gave up in disgust because they weren't what they were made out to be (such as the vegan chocolate chip cookies which were so easily made into hockey pucks and also seemed to require exquisite timing (on the chilling side -- I'll continue to cream butter or brown it)). Thus, calling them the top ten is not necessarily accurate. Did we make the recipe? Was it successful? I bet that some of the recipes listed above are easier than the top ten.

However, unless I want to blow up like a balloon, one can't make everything. Yes, I like lentil soup. On the other hand, I tend not to look at recipes until I need to make something along those lines.

I eat all my asparagus when I have it and generally fresh or only with salt and pepper. Who wastes perfectly good, luscious asparagus by topping it with either whipped cream or hollandaise (and I read the Alice B. Toklas cookbook a long time ago and therefore have not been rereading on your site -- what about hashish brownies)?

On the other hand, why would someone refuse to look at the recipes given? It's kind of like a voyeurism that is totally allowed. I mean, you can look at the fat-free salads and the asparagus doused in whipped cream even though you might never make them.

Looking at the comments below. Scribbles, you're being a bit unfair. The comment about the whipped cream was not that the person would not eat whipped cream -- simply that they would not use it for asparagus because they would rather have it on something else. The person not purchasing the endive found it too expensive. How can you judge? If someone is getting their food on a budget, getting that escarole (if not particularly wanted or liked) may be something that they don't feel a particular need to buy -- especially for one recipe.

And it looks as though the commenters at least looked at the recipes. . .

Scribbles January 24, 2016
I, too, tried several of these recipes and like them! As for the whip cream nay sayers, I'm in agreement with whomever it was that noted it's the same cream used for other savory dishes only whipped! Does it become more nutritious when it's not whipped??? And, as for endive, you don't eat it every day - splurge a bit. Seriously, food is what fuels your body for everything you do! Eat the best you can!!
Valerie G. January 22, 2016
I'm sure whipped cream on asparagus is delicious but if I'm going to have whipped cream I'll save the calories for an ocassional dessert. Massive calories don't belong on my vegetable dish.
Ttrockwood January 21, 2016
Yes those bran muffins are awesome. And i made and loved that lentil soup.
But i dont like burnt toast or bitter flavors so burnt toast pureed into soup still just isn't appealing. And as much as i like endive my wallet doesn't- they're $2 per small head now (i could easily eat three myself!) so that's gonna have to wait....
lisina January 21, 2016
Yes, so glad you brought these back!
Transcendancing January 20, 2016
Great write up and definitely persuaded me to give a few of these a chance!
SarahBunny January 20, 2016
I love the lentil recipe - also got a friend hooked on it!
702551 January 20, 2016
It's downright bizarre how some commenters freaked out about the whipped cream and asparagus.

It's just heavy cream with air beaten into it, the same cream that is used extensively in savory preparations (gratins, soups, casseroles, etc.).

And as one commenter noted, the Toklas recipe's usage is basically a sauce mousseline (unsurprising since Toklas and Stein lived in France for decades).
Sarah J. January 20, 2016
I love snarky Kristen—and the bran muffins, whipped cream asparagus, creamed spinach, and spinach and chickpeas.
roryrabbitfield January 20, 2016
This post is better than the roundup of the most looked at genius recipes. When I looked at those, I lost interest when I saw how many unhealthy recipes there were. This list is far superior!
luvcookbooks January 20, 2016
Puntarelle are available in the covered market in Little Italy in the Bronx.
Also, uses of savory whipped cream are genius. I first met savory whipped cream in a recipe for saffron French toast topped with whipped cream and caviar. Most elegant Christmas breakfast ever.
Leslie S. January 20, 2016
I cared! I cared! But will now be re-making all of these this weekend
Riddley G. January 20, 2016
Nancy Silverton's bran muffins are the best muffins ever. There, I said it.
Alexandra S. January 20, 2016

Also the BA sourdough dressing truly is genius.