Our Ugly Duckling Recipes from the SAVEUR Archives

Don't judge a book by its cover, right?

Our food photography process is pretty straightforward—we rummage through our prop closet to find the prettiest plates and silverware to style the photo, and we take the picture. Our goal: make the food look as delicious and evocative as possible. But if you dive into SAVEUR’s 21-year-old archive of recipes, it’s inevitable you’ll come across one that looks…slightly less appealing. Maybe there’s a drizzle of sauce that, on reflection, shouldn’t have been drizzled just so. Sometimes a white asparagus isn’t just a white asparagus.

So after combing through our database of 6,000 recipes, here are our 16 favorite ugly ducklings. They’ve been rigorously tested by our kitchen team, and have the potential to be beautiful. Just give them some love.

Marinated Vegetable and Herb Salad

Marinated Vegetable and Herb Salad

Marinated Zucchini and Green Bean Salad

This summer salad is a popular favorite in many ouzo bars around Athens.

Marinated Sardines

This centuries-old dish was a favorite of Venetian sailors—frying the fish and marinating it in olive oil and vinegar meant it could last for weeks, and the vitamin C in the onions offered protection against scurvy.

White Asparagus with Olive Oil Sabayon

White Asparagus

Ham Spread and Olive Canapes

This kitschy cocktail food of the 30′ is back for the holidays.

Salami and Chopped Egg Canapes with Fines Herbes Butter

Topped with savory ingredients, these tiny bites are not only appeasing to the eye but delicious as well.
This dish is traditionally made with the blood sausage called botifarra negra–it is unavailable in the U.S., but morcilla may be substituted.

Lima Bean Soup

This simple soup only calls for a few ingredients, letting the flavor of lima beans shine.

Tarta de Jamón, Huevo y Tomate (Ham, Egg, and Tomato Pie)

A semolina crust encases a savory filling of ham, cheese, tomato, and eggs, perfect for a quick filling lunch.
Use salted (brine-packed) herring filets for this recipe.

Christmas Salad

This sweet, festive salad gives off a lot of juice if it sits for a while, so it’s best to assemble it just before serving.

Madame Carter’s Provencal Herb Terrine

Chez Cartet, a small and very traditional Parisian bistro that has been in business since 1936, is renowned for its homemade pates and terrines. We adapted their recipe for this coarse, well-seasoned terrine that was named after the establishment’s founder.

Sicilian Eggplant and Tuna Salad

Eggplant is an extremely popular vegetable in Sicily, used in scores of ways, and sweet-and-sour flavors, as in this salad, are common to the island’s cuisine.

Cucumber Salad with Black-Eyed Peas

This is one of the simplest recipes in Author Maya Kaimal’s Aunty Kamala’s repertoire, and it uses coconut three ways.

Tom’s Vladivostok Potato Salad

This potato salad—flavored with crabmeat, salmon caviar, and garlic-laced mayonnaise—was created by Tom Hudgins when he lived in the Russian city of Vladivostok.

Veal Cutlets with Avocado and Truffle Cream

This rich, saucy dish only calls for handful of ingredients. Top with extra avocados.