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The recipes that made her famous: Alison Roman’s internet-breaking meals

Ahead of her live appearance at the Sydney Opera House, our staff tried some of the recipes that made Alison Roman a staple in every millennial kitchen.

Sydney Opera House

If you one day started noticing a scarcity of chickpeas or anchovies at your local supermarket, chances are it has something to do with Alison Roman.

Anchovy advocate, chickpea connoisseur, and queen of viral recipes, Alison Roman has taken the world by storm. A former pastry chef at Momofuku Milk Bar and New York Times columnist, she’s captured our hearts and stomachs with her candid on-camera personality, hilarious quips and, of course, her incredible cooking.

In the lead-up to her Sydney Opera House live event, An Evening with Alison Roman, we dipped our spoon in to try some of the recipes that were so iconic they earnt their own hashtags.

Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

If you haven’t heard of #thestew, where have you been the past three years? Alison Roman’s Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut and Turmeric is silky, spicy and vegan – it’s pure gold in every way. The perfect blend of crispy chickpeas, garlicky coconut milk and some fresh healthy greens, #thestew has become a dinner party staple for amateur home cooks the world over.

A white ceramic bowl with black ornate edge pattern holding spiced chickpea stew with coconut and turmeric on a tabletop. Five smaller bowls surround the edge of frame holding ingredients.

The full recipe

“This stew is a delicious winter warmer but also a feast for the eyes because of that beautiful yellow colour. It’s super easy, combining a bunch of pantry staples like canned chickpeas and coconut milk. Just beware not to spill the turmeric – it’s a tricky stain to remove.”

Julia Kenny, Content

Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread

AKA #thecookies. These might just be the cookies that define a generation. They’re ‘less chocolate chip cookie, more brown sugar shortbread with chocolate chunks.’ Whatever they are, they’re amazing. The use of salted butter gives an extra oomph, and Roman’s secret tip to roll your dough in demerara sugar gives an extra crispy edge for an unbelievably satisfying first bite. You’ve been warned – these cookies are addictive.

A yellow translucent glass plate with numerous salted butter and chocolate chunk shortbread on a tabletop. A notebook, pen, sheets of paper with writing and a container holding a charger and lipstick surround it.

The full recipe

One of the simplest (and tastiest) cookie recipes I've come across in a long time. They're a winner with everyone, from the classic fans who just want chocolatey dough, to the more refined cookie connoisseur looking for something a bit more palate pleasing.”

Lisa v.d.H, Social Media

Caramelized Shallot Pasta

This Caramelized Shallot Pasta earnt Alison Roman The New York Times Cooking’s most popular recipe of 2020, and rightly so. Simply now known as, you guessed it, #thepasta. At a time when practically everyone became home chefs overnight, this pasta became the unofficial signature dish of the pandemic. Featuring shallots, (her favourite) anchovies and an entire can of tomato paste, we don’t know how Roman chooses her ingredient pairings, but we’re so, so glad she does.

Looking down on a bowl of caramelized shallot pasta on a white tablecloth. A silver fork with a green handle is resting on the side of the bowl.

The full recipe

“Savoury. Spicy. Full of flavour. The anchovies add a rich, umami flavour when melted down into the garlicky caramelised shallot jam – a great staple to keep in the fridge for other dishes. It's so versatile, I use it on just about anything. I even put it on my scrambled eggs.”

Tessa Pelle, Communications

Creamy Cauliflower Pasta with Pecorino Bread Crumb

This vegetarian pasta is a staple favourite from Alison’s extensive repertoire. With equal parts cauliflower and pasta, it’s a vegetable-forward take on the classic mac and cheese. Roman explains it as a pasta that’s perfect for the days you’re coming home from work and need a hug. Whatever you do, don’t skip the salty, cheesy breadcrumbs. This little addition tops this pasta off with a little crunch you never knew you needed.

Two large bowls and three smaller bowls on a tabletop, four holding ingredients and one with the finished dish of creamy cauliflower pasta with pecorino bread crumb.

The full recipe

“This recipe employs that signature Alison Roman magic – combining a bunch of unassuming ingredients to create something so delicious you’ll want to make it again tomorrow, and the day after that.”

Sarah Miller, Philanthropy

Roasted Sheet Pan Chicken with Crushed Olives

If you're looking for a stress-free meal that will make you feel like a gourmet chef, this is it. Roman’s recipe repurposes the juice from roasting the chicken – deglazing it with vinegar, a little water, raw garlic and crushed olives – to create a gloriously sophisticated sauce. Combined with crushed olives, lemon zest and red pepper flakes, it’s like taking a Mediterranean vacation in a pan.

Roasted sheet pan chicken with crushed olives presented in a white bowl by a person standing outside. A brass spoon is resting on the plate.

The full recipe

“This pan chicken recipe is a game changer for a (cheat) fancy chicken dinner. So simple to cook, all in one pan. And the stroke of genius lies in the yummy, salty, briny sauce made from deglazing the delicious chicken juices in the pan.”

Lisa Montgomery, Campaigns

Cold Carrot Cake

There are hundreds of different ways to make a carrot cake but, once again, Alison Roman has decided to mix things up with a non-traditional take on a classic – making it even better yet. There are no walnuts. There are no raisins. However, there are dates which are ‘infinitely more pleasant,’ she says. This recipe is so indescribably delightful, we think it just might become #thecarrotcake. It’s not yet ‘viral’ as it’s only just been published in her latest cookbook, Sweet Enough, but it’s our pick for her next internet-breaking creation.

A carrot cake with icing and three purple flowers on it on a white plate being held by a person who is out of frame.

The full recipe

“The most effort you need for this recipe is grating all those carrots. While the icing is optional, I made her quick cream cheese frosting and decorated it with roasted pistachios and lavender flowers… It was an instant hit.”

Fleur Mitchell, Production

If the Sydney Opera House staff and her millions of devoted followers aren’t enough to convince you, you might just need to try Alison Roman’s greatest hits yourself. She’s a culinary sensation for a reason and her viral recipes will live forever in our hearts and Insta feeds.

Streamread & listen to more at the Opera House