Formerly the senior food editor of Bon Appetit and Buzz Feed, currently a freelance food writer, recipe developer and the kind of Instagramer you need as your bff — you can bet the adorable Alison Roman knows a thing or two about contemporary culinary art, and how to personally rock worlds in the kitchen.
This pro-foodie recently released her debut cookbook, Dining In, and it’s packed with simple and sophisticated recipes not unlike the ones that have us flocking to new foodie hotspots left and right. Her recipes are of the moment in the best way: fresh, gorgeous and fully convincing us to cancel a few reservations and get to cooking instead.
Enjoy Alison’s timely and masterful culinary perspective, snag a few quick tips and cute quips, and be sure to grab a copy of Dining In…
In my kitchen you’ll find plenty of:
Dried chilies. I like to bring them back with me from different places I visit. My favorites are the ones I’ve brought back from Oaxaca, these small gorgeous little smoked pasillas. Can’t find anything like them here.
Recipe staples always on hand:
Chickpeas. I love them crisped up in a skillet with olive oil and lots of garlic. I eat them with tons of greens, lots of yogurt and herbs.
Ingredient that makes everything taste better:
Fresh lemon. And good flaky salt!
Best food memory:
Maybe it’s because it was more recent, but I’ve got to say eating these giant bright red prawns in Portugal. They were so fresh and perfectly cooked with just some olive oil and garlic. They were so good I literally cried. It was really special.
Food philosophy in one sentence:
Good food doesn’t have to be complicated and simple doesn’t have to mean boring.
Fave ingredient lately:
Midnight snack perfection:
Cold pasta straight from the fridge.
Food you love to eat with zero prep/additions:
Most impressive dish:
I think any meal cooked for more than four people at a time is impressive, but I will say, it’s always nice to bring out a large lamb roast or something that is rolled and tied. People love that.
Healthiest habit in the kitchen:
I really only cook with olive oil, and I rely on things like yogurt for creaminess rather than cream or butter.
Cholula hot sauce, yuzu kosho, sichuan chili oil.
Best bargain tip:
If you cook a lot, buy in bulk. Your grains, olive oils, rice. It may seem absurd at the time to head home with four gallons of olive oil but you will ultimately go through it and save lots of money by buying more at once. With specialty flours, it’s kind of the opposite mentality. For things like buckwheat flour or a specialty grain, I’ll buy only what I need from the bulk bin section. That way I’m not stuck with a bag of expensive flour that’s not in my usual rotation.
Fave veggie + what you make with it:
I eat a ton of cucumbers as a snack. I slice them thinly and dress with vinegar and layer them with a cheese like thinly sliced feta or a sharp cheddar and a mess of herbs. Or I cut them into spears and squeeze lemon or lime on top and sprinkle with spicy sumac salt (a recipe in the book). I also love fennel: roasted, raw, braised, whatever. I love it in everything.
Hard salty cheese like gouda and a box of Mary’s Gone Crackers.
Craziest thing I buy at the market:
Almond butter. That stuff is like $15 a jar. That is crazy.
See: Craziest thing I buy at the market.
Your idea of an ideal dinner setting…
My apartment on a Sunday.
For last minute entertaining, I…
Do something like tacos. That way you can make the meat or whatever filling, one or two salsas or sauces and outsource the rest. Can you pick up tortillas? Can you grab 15 limes? Easy asks. Plus, tacos require no servingware, and you can even use paper plates, so the more the merrier.
Aperol spritz or mezcal neat with salt and orange slices. I know that last one isn’t a cocktail, but it is my signature.
Simple go-to recipe:
Roasted chicken with potatoes or fennel. You can roast everything at the same time with basically zero attention. It looks much fancier than it is. Finish with lots of herbs and a squeeze of lemon and you’re good to go. It’s always what I make when I have no idea what to make.