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The Foods You Say You Hate—& Recipes That'll Change Your Mind

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Maybe you eat everything. Maybe you're Anthony Bourdain!

But for the rest of us, there are some foods we avoid to the best of our ability at restaurants and that we never stock in the pantry. Maybe you're at peace with your dislike. Or maybe you want to see what people say you're missing out on and lower yourself, slowly, into the baby pool of olives, fennel, and/or blue cheese...

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Best of the Hotline: The Most Polarizing Foods

Best of the Hotline: The Most Polarizing Foods by Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

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Best of the Hotline: Popular Foods You Secretly Dislike

Best of the Hotline: Popular Foods You Secretly Dislike by Mei Chin

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We present to you some of the most divisive foods: In the first row, you'll find a couple of ways to ease yourself into them, with plenty of distractions (read: cheese, pasta, butter). Then, once you've gone from 0 to 60, try the more intense recipes listed in the second row.

Cilantro

Cover it up with cheddar cheese and corn, or blitz it into a sauce with yogurt, avocado, honey, and lemon juice. Once you've gotten accustomed, it's time for sauces that aren't as shy.

Sweet Corn Fritters with Sriracha-Lime Greek Yogurt

Sweet Corn Fritters with Sriracha-Lime Greek Yogurt by Carey Nershi

Green Goddess Chicken Sandwiches

Green Goddess Chicken Sandwiches by foxeslovelemons

José Pizarro's Salt-Crusted Potatoes with Cilantro Mojo

José Pizarro's Salt-Crusted Potatoes with Cilantro Mojo by Genius Recipes

Cilantro Coconut Chutney

Cilantro Coconut Chutney by A Brown Table

Green peppers

The dip below contains no bell peppers but, once generously applied, will make a bell pepper taste very good. Roasted green peppers aren't as polarizing as the squeaky raw ones but, nevertheless, are not for the faint of heart.

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Creole Chicken with Mushroom Dirty Rice

Creole Chicken with Mushroom Dirty Rice by Jenny Huang | Hello My Dump...

Caramelized Onion Dip

Caramelized Onion Dip by ADRIENE

Forever-Roasted Bell Peppers
Forever-Roasted Bell Peppers

Anchovies

Go from anchovies as a foundational flavor, for adding salty brine to otherwise ho-hum recipes, to anchovies not ashamed to be their pungent selves.

Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and White Bean-Anchovy Sauce

Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and White Bean-Anchovy Sauce by Sarah Jampel

Roy Finamore's Broccoli Cooked Forever

Roy Finamore's Broccoli Cooked Forever by Genius Recipes

Parsley and Anchovy Sauce

Parsley and Anchovy Sauce by AliceWaters

Pantry Pissaladière

Pantry Pissaladière by Nicholas Day

Fennel

Let fennel play second fiddle to the flavors of the grill or the rich creaminess of white beans and cheese. Once you've gotten used to its anisey sweetness, try it as the star of your salad or soup.

April Bloomfield’s Grilled Vegetable Vinaigrette

April Bloomfield’s Grilled Vegetable Vinaigrette by Genius Recipes

Roasted Fennel & White Bean Dip

Roasted Fennel & White Bean Dip by singing_baker

Caramelized Fennel, Leek, and Orange Salad

Caramelized Fennel, Leek, and Orange Salad by em-i-lis

Thyme-Scented Fennel and Leek Soup

Thyme-Scented Fennel and Leek Soup by AntoniaJames

Olives

Olives chopped finely or pulverized into jam --> olives left whole and/or free to stand on their own.

Heidi Swanson's Mostly Olive Salad, With Some Farro

Heidi Swanson's Mostly Olive Salad, With Some Farro by Sarah Jampel

Paula Wolfert's Herb Jam with Olives and Lemon

Paula Wolfert's Herb Jam with Olives and Lemon by Genius Recipes

Garlic-Orange-Rosemary Marinated Olives

Garlic-Orange-Rosemary Marinated Olives by Kendra Vaculin

Viana La Place's Umbrian Black Olive Panino

Viana La Place's Umbrian Black Olive Panino by Genius Recipes

Blue cheese

You'll see how cookies and potato skins can benefit from some subtle funk. Once you're in Funky Town (so sorry), go crazy and sprinkle the blue cheese freely.

Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins

Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins by Josh Cohen

Fig and Blue Cheese Savouries

Fig and Blue Cheese Savouries by TheRunawaySpoon

Fig and Blue Cheese Tart with Honey, Balsamic, and Rosemary

Fig and Blue Cheese Tart with Honey, Balsamic, and Rosemary by Phyllis Grant

Blue Cheese Potato Chips

Blue Cheese Potato Chips by Catherine Lamb

Capers

Use capers as a salty, briny pop to make rich or comforting dishes more exciting than monotonous. Then make them inescapable. (Be warned: Pasta Puttanesca has olives, anchovies, and capers—a triple whammy!)

Stewy Chickpeas with Tomatoes, Capers, and Feta

Stewy Chickpeas with Tomatoes, Capers, and Feta by Alexandra Stafford

Sautéed Zucchini with Mint, Basil, and Walnuts

Sautéed Zucchini with Mint, Basil, and Walnuts by Marian Bull

Classic Chicken Piccata

Classic Chicken Piccata by Linda Johnson

Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca by Snafu06

Okra

It doesn't have to be slimy! Try grilling or roasting, rather than boiling. Once you're over your fear, extract the seeds and treat them like couscous.

Spicy Oven-Roasted Okra

Spicy Oven-Roasted Okra by amber wilson | for the love...

Grilled Okra with Sriracha Lime Salt

Grilled Okra with Sriracha Lime Salt by Beth Kirby | {local milk}

Okra Seed Couscous Salad
Okra Seed Couscous Salad

Cottage cheese

Steer clear of the canned pineapple or maraschino cherries. As long as you think of it as a garnish (or as a ricotta-equivalent that's good for making pancakes or waffles fluff up), cottage cheese can be redeemed.

Jamie Oliver's Smoked Beets

Jamie Oliver's Smoked Beets by Genius Recipes

Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Crème Fraîche and Seasonal Fruit

Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Crème Fraîche and Seasonal F... by Sue Conley & Peggy Smith

Goat cheese

Go from using it as a garnish to putting it—and its creamy tang—front and center.

Griddled Polenta Cakes with Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese, and Honey

Griddled Polenta Cakes with Caramelized Onions, Goat Chee... by arielleclementine

Glazed Shallot, Walnut, Sage, and Goat Cheese Pizza

Glazed Shallot, Walnut, Sage, and Goat Cheese Pizza by creamtea

Roasted Sweet Potato with Chickpeas, Goat Cheese, and Coriander

Roasted Sweet Potato with Chickpeas, Goat Cheese, and Cor... by Renee Kemps

Goat Cheese and Asparagus Tart

Goat Cheese and Asparagus Tart by Samantha Weiss Hills

Tempeh

Crumble it into small pieces and use it mostly for texture; then, cut it into bigger chunks and slabs and appreciate the nutty, slightly bitter flavor, too.

Savory Tempeh Crumbles

Savory Tempeh Crumbles by Gena Hamshaw

Tempeh Chili

Tempeh Chili by Gena Hamshaw

Tempeh Kebabs with Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Tempeh Kebabs with Homemade Barbecue Sauce by Gena Hamshaw

Smoky Tempeh and Hummus Sandwiches

Smoky Tempeh and Hummus Sandwiches by Gena Hamshaw

Eggplant

Eggplant covered with cheese and sauce or fried till silken and served on corn --> eggplant as naked as it gets, burnt and mashed or sliced and grilled.

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan by Alexandra Stafford

Yotam Ottolenghi's Sweet Corn Polenta with Eggplant Sauce

Yotam Ottolenghi's Sweet Corn Polenta with Eggplant Sauce by Genius Recipes

Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush by Jodi Moreno

Grilled Eggplant Agrodolce with Mint and Fresno Pepper

Grilled Eggplant Agrodolce with Mint and Fresno Pepper by Sarah Fioritto

Mayonnaise

Learn to love mayo for its ability to make bread crackle as it fries or to cool down smoky roasted potatoes; soon you'll be making your own (and using it to dress your potato and/or egg salads.

Ruth Reichl’s Diva of a Grilled Cheese

Ruth Reichl’s Diva of a Grilled Cheese by Genius Recipes

Spanish Roasted Potato Salad

Spanish Roasted Potato Salad by MySocialChef

Homemade Kewpie Mayonnaise

Homemade Kewpie Mayonnaise by Hannah Kirshner

 Potato Salad (Salad e Oliveh)

Potato Salad (Salad e Oliveh) by sdebrango

Nutritional yeast

Using nutritional yeast as a garnish is a gateway to making its salty, cheesy flavor your focal point (and referring to it as "nooch").

Creamy Spring Pasta with Shiitake Mushrooms and Peas

Creamy Spring Pasta with Shiitake Mushrooms and Peas by Gena Hamshaw

Nutritional Yeast: Better Than Cheese?

Nutritional Yeast: Better Than Cheese? by Posie Harwood

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Truly Amazing Cashew Queso Sauce

Truly Amazing Cashew Queso Sauce by Gena Hamshaw

Vegan Lemon Asparagus Risotto

Vegan Lemon Asparagus Risotto by Gena Hamshaw

Pickles

Pickle juice will make your mushrooms taste better and your dried fruit plumper and tarter. Then, graduate to full-fledged pickle-flavored potato salads.

Stuart Brioza's Mushrooms in Pickle-Brine Butter

Stuart Brioza's Mushrooms in Pickle-Brine Butter by Genius Recipes

Spiced Cauliflower, Pickled Fig, and Almond Salad

Spiced Cauliflower, Pickled Fig, and Almond Salad by savorthis

Omi Anke's German Potato Salad

Omi Anke's German Potato Salad by Anna Francese Gass

Dill Pickle Potato Salad

Dill Pickle Potato Salad by Marian Bull

Fish sauce

Appreciate the savory saltiness fish sauce adds to crackly brussels sprouts and steak salad; then (maybe) make it the dominant flavor of a steak marinade or rice porridge.

Momofuku's Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette

Momofuku's Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fish Sauce Vinai... by Genius Recipes

Grilled Steak and Romaine Salad with Coconut Dressing

Grilled Steak and Romaine Salad with Coconut Dressing by Alexandra Stafford

Vietnamese Sugar Steak

Vietnamese Sugar Steak by savorthis

Filipino Chicken Porridge (Arroz Caldo)

Filipino Chicken Porridge (Arroz Caldo) by Jacqui MacKenzie

Beets

Eat them with chocolate! Or start with golden beets—they're generally sweeter and less earthy.

Nigel Slater's Extremely Moist Chocolate-Beet Cake

Nigel Slater's Extremely Moist Chocolate-Beet Cake by Genius Recipes

Farro, Golden Beet, and Feta Salad with​ ​Pecans and Chive-Sage Dressing

Farro, Golden Beet, and Feta Salad with​ ​Pecans and Chiv... by em-i-lis

Beet Herb Salad (in Jello Form)

Beet Herb Salad (in Jello Form) by Ali Slagle

Roasted Beet Soup with Beet Green Polenta Croutons

Roasted Beet Soup with Beet Green Polenta Croutons by savorthis

Have you taught yourself to like any foods you spent years hating? Tell us how in the comments below!