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Most Intimidating Foods to Prepare

Don’t let these 11 dishes deter you. Learn to cook like a chef, from a chef.

What's to fear? Overcooking. Heat this delicately sweet shellfish a minute too long, and you’re left with rubber. And that’s a costly mistake, given the premium price of scallops. But they’re easy to cook and a great source for heart-healthy omega-3 acids.

Get over it: Make sure you buy “dry” scallops. If they’re not labeled dry, that means they’ve probably been soaked in a preservative that’ll give them a metallic taste once cooked. To perfectly caramelize scallops: Season them with salt and pepper. Get a sauté pan nice and hot over medium-high heat and then add olive oil. Place the scallops on the pan and don’t move them for two minutes. You want a nice sear on them. Flip ’em over and sear for another two minutes. To add smoky flavor, add a little diced bacon or chorizo on top.

What's to fear? Start with how to pronounce it (“keen-wah”). It’s also flat-out confusing. Does it cook like rice? Or couscous? “Many people overlook this great grain,” says Allen. “And that’s a shame since quinoa is a practically perfect protein with very little fat.”

Get over it: For the easiest quinoa prep, simmer dry kernels in a low-sodium chicken stock until the crispy husks break off. Then rinse and drain. Toss ¼ cup of cooked quinoa in a green salad to add a subtle nutty crunch. For a protein-packed breakfast, mix quinoa with a little honey and some cranberries or blueberries.

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