3 New Alison Roman Recipes You'll Be Making for the Rest of Your Life

Ready, set, viral.

October 24, 2019

Alison Roman knows a thing (or 15) about going viral.

Consider her recipe for “The Stew”: an unassuming chickpea-turmeric concoction that amassed some 5,000 hashtagged shout-outs on Instagram (many of which made their way to Roman’s own feed, in screenshotted glory). And “The Chicken,” with 500-plus reviews, in just over a month.

Or take “The Cookies”—the salted chocolate chunk shortbread ones that arguably catalyzed Roman’s entrée to her current status as viral recipe whisperer, worlds over. (Smitten Kitchen suggested they just might be “the cookie of the year.” The Cut completely fumbled them, in a charming way. And The New York Times captioned a photo of them: “Those Viral Cookies You Saw On Instagram 487 Times Then Decided To Try For Yourself And Then Discovered That Yes, They Are Actually That Good.”)

Said capital-C Cookies come from Roman’s first cookbook, Dining In, published two years back. It became an instant hit, not just for its salted shortbread rounds, but for its many sophisticated-yet-effortless showstoppers, and the sort of crispy, creamy, vinegared fare home cooks can’t stop making and eating. With Dining In and in the years she spent prior developing popular recipes at Bon Appétit, Roman created the blueprint for how to be a food celebrity in the Instagram age. (It seems to involve a golden ratio of undeniably bingeable flavors, recipe names so appealing that they’re practically NSFW, and image styling that’s equal parts approachable and aspirational.)

The power of #TheStew.

And now she’s back with her latest book, Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over, out this week from Clarkson Potter. “It’s not entertaining. It’s having people over,” declares the jacketless book’s back cover in bold-faced text. It’s full of the sort of recipes that sound so good, one contemplates switching off any and all phones, calling in sick, and cooking through the bulk of them. Stuff like Tiny, Chocolatey Cookies, flecked with flaky salt, garlicky dips, and focaccia that tastes like it's been proofing all night but that comes together in just a few hours.

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Top Comment:
“I’d say the Frizzled Chickpeas with Onion and Feta and the Harissa Pork with Beans and Chard are likely the viral winners of our group. Many of us are still cooking with it this month. It’s a virtual club though FB and Insta, so come check out the fun. ”
— patty@bryce

So, which will be the first to achieve proper noun–level success?

“I’m absolutely the wrong person to ask,” she says. “Every time I guess, I’m wrong.”

Which makes a lot of sense, actually—because for Roman, it’s not about going viral at all.

“I don’t want to be trendy, or flash-in-the-pan,” she says. “I want to be making things people incorporate into their lives forever.”

She’s been thrilled to see The Stew making another lap around the internet as temperatures cool, like an edible “It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers.” Roman enthusiasts are declaring it “stew season.”

“I hope they make it every year for the rest of their lives,” she says. “Having things that are truly good enough to stand the test of time is exactly my goal. I’m playing the long game.”

For those home cooks with similar ambitions, here are three recipes from Nothing Fancy we think have similarly serious staying power:

1. Sticky Chili Chicken with Hot-and-Sour Pineapple

Roman would ascribe this chicken the yearbook-style superlative, “Least Likely to Be in One of My Cookbooks.” She doesn’t typically like fruit with her chicken, or too much sweetness in her savory food. But this dish—loosely inspired by her inability to stop thinking about tacos al pastor—“is so, so good, I’m willing to overlook my own rules,” she says.

2. Pot of Pasta With Broccoli Rabe and Chorizo Breadcrumbs

This giant pot of carbs is so simple to throw together, Roman says she had to ask herself whether it was worth including in the book at all. “But it’s so good. Every time I ate it, I was like, ‘It’s so good. People will enjoy it,’” she says. “It’s something I make all the time for people. For me, a recipe like this is more about the idea that we should be making a big pot of pasta with stuff in it, and don’t fuss too much over it.”

3. Crispy Chocolate Cake with Hazelnut and Sour Cream

“I did a version of this at Bon Appétit a million years ago,” says Roman. “I was glad I was given the opportunity to revisit and tweak it for the better.” The resulting edition in Nothing Fancy is exceedingly chocolatey—the original was inspired by Richard Sax’s Cloud Cake—with lots of body, and in a happy accident, turns out to be gluten-free. Roman writes in the headnote: “I would never call this a gluten-free cake, lest the gluten lovers feel like they are missing out on something potentially better (there isn’t).”

Which Nothing Fancy recipe are you excited to tackle first? Let us know in the comments!
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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.


patty@bryce January 2, 2020
The Food52 Cookbook Club covered this book in December. Raves all around. I’d say the Frizzled Chickpeas with Onion and Feta and the Harissa Pork with Beans and Chard are likely the viral winners of our group. Many of us are still cooking with it this month. It’s a virtual club though FB and Insta, so come check out the fun.
Janet L. October 26, 2019
Vinegared apples with persimmon and white cheddar cheese was the first recipe I made. I expected to enjoy the leftovers today since there were only two of us for a recipe that was to serve 4-6. There were no leftovers.
gasgirl October 24, 2019
none of these recipes look appetizing! i was going to purchase..but glad i got a glimpse!
Asha L. October 24, 2019
These three recipes are a very random choice of recipes from Nothing Fancy. I highly recommend the book. I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy and I cooked 10 recipes out of it. They were all amazing, from the sizzled scallion dip and the sesame turmeric dip in the snack time section to the one-pot chicken with dates & caramelized lemon and the salmon with soy and citrusy soy scallions in the mains.

Plus, the sides section is where it is at: frizzled chickpeas and onions with feta and oregano (out of this world delicious), buttered turmeric rice with crushed almonds and herbs + so many other amazing vegetable-centered dishes. I have a list of about 30 more recipes I want to make out of the book, so I highly recommend taking a peek if you see it in a bookstore and seeing if any of the other recipes pull you in! Cheers!
gasgirl October 24, 2019
thank you for the input..very kind! i will take a look in the these recipes did not pull me in!
kasia S. November 3, 2019
I agree with Asha, I'm about to make the frizzled chickpeas and onions with feta and oregano and then her famous cookies, it's an Alison day in my kitchen again, she has some great things, please check out in person :)
patty@bryce January 2, 2020
Didn’t even notice 2/3 of these and I love this book.
Amy K. January 2, 2020
I also love her recipes- I’m The NY Times and her 2 cookbooks. I have never had a “fail.” I love this chickpea stew too.