Diner food is something you turn to when you’re craving a comforting, hearty meal. These dishes, which are often greasy and somewhat sloppy, may taste great, but they’re typically not considered worthy of a sophisticated supper spread. You can easily change that, though, by using these 6 recipes, which give traditional diner foods a much-needed makeover. Prepare to enjoy elegant versions of your favorite diner dishes!
1. Focaccia Reubens
Food & Wine gives a Reuben sandwich a makeover using top-quality corned beef and fresh focaccia. If you don’t have focaccia on hand, you can either make your own using Food Network’s recipe, or you can use store-bought flatbread. The recipe yields 4 servings.
- 1 (½ pound) green cabbage, thinly sliced (4 cups)
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 (4-by-6-inch) pieces of focaccia, split
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 8 (¼-inch-thick) slices of Gruyère cheese (4 ounces)
- ½ pound thinly sliced corned beef
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Directions: In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Let stand at room temperature, tossing occasionally, until softened, about 30 minutes. Heat a panini press or griddle. Arrange the focaccia on a work surface, cut sides up. In a small bowl, combine the ketchup with the mayonnaise. Spread the dressing on the bottom halves of the focaccia. Set a slice of Gruyère on the dressing.
Top with the corned beef, pickled cabbage and the remaining slices of Gruyère. Close the sandwiches and spread the outsides of the focaccia with the softened butter. Add the sandwiches to the press and cook over moderate heat until the cheese has melted and the focaccia is crisp and golden, about 6 minutes. Cut each sandwich in half and serve right away.
2. Crispy Baked Rosemary Garlic Fries
Greasy diner fries may not deserve a spot at your dinner table, but Minimalist Baker’s Crispy Baked Rosemary Garlic Fries certainly do! This recipe dresses up a burger, pairs well with any meat entree, and will appease even the pickiest of your foodie friends. It yields 4 servings.
- 3 russet potatoes, roughly peeled and cut into even wedges or strips
- 2 to 3 tablespoons canola or olive oil to rim pan
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Sea salt and pepper, to taste
- Large handful rosemary
- 2 to 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Directions: Preheat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Soak potatoes in hot water for 15 minutes, then drain and dry thoroughly with paper towels or clean dish towels. Dry the bowl they were in and then place them back in. Drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, add about ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper, and toss. Generously coat a rimmed baking sheet with canola oil and drain off any excess. Transfer fries to baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. Cover with foil and bake for 5 minutes.
Then remove foil and bake for 15 minutes more. Remove from oven to turn over with a spatula. If they stick, just gently nudge them with the spatula and they will lift off the sheet. Make sure to keep them in a single layer to ensure even baking. Place back in oven to cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven, flipping once more. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes more or until golden brown and crispy. Remove from oven and transfer to a large bowl. Season with additional salt to taste and minced garlic and rosemary while still hot. Toss and serve warm.
3. BLT Salad with Croutons
Consisting of crispy bacon, homemade croutons, fresh basil, and a creamy dressing, Taste of Home’s BLT Salad will be the life of any dinner party. It’s also a great recipe to rely on when you’re running short on time; 25 minutes is all it takes to cook the bacon, toast the bread cubes, whisk the salad, and combine. It yields 6 servings.
- 1 pound sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- ¼ cup butter, cubed
- 4 slices white bread, crusts removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 3 to 5 tablespoons minced fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- 6 cups torn romaine
- 1½ cups grape tomatoes
Directions: In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove to paper towels; drain, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings. Set bacon and drippings aside. In another large skillet, melt butter. Add bread cubes; cook over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove to paper towels; cool. For dressing, in a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, basil, vinegar, pepper, garlic, and reserved drippings. In a large bowl, combine the romaine, tomatoes, and bacon. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Top with croutons.
4. Elegant Meatloaf
Pumpernickel bread adds unique flavors to Food.com’s Elegant Meatloaf, while a marmalade and hot mustard glaze gives it a crisp and caramelized finish. We suggest serving this recipe, which yields 4 to 6 servings, with Saveur’s Potatoes Roasted with Saffron.
- 1 pound ground beef
- ½ pound ground pork
- ¾ cup salsa
- 2 slices pumpernickel bread, torn in little pieces
- ¼ cup diced onion
- 1 large egg, beaten
- ¼ cup diced green bell pepper
- ¼ cup golden brown sugar
- ¼ cup malt vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- ½ teaspoon seasoning salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons marmalade
- 1 teaspoon prepared hot mustard
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Lightly coat bottom and sides of a loaf pan with nonstick spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine ground beef, ground pork, salsa, pumpernickel, onion, egg, bell pepper, brown sugar, malt vinegar, Worcestershire, dry mustard, seasoned salt, and cracked pepper. Mix well. Pack the meat mixture into the loaf pan firmly, then unmold it onto the perpared baking sheet. Remove loaf pan, and mold the meat on the baking sheet into a domed brick shape with your hands. Bake 50 to 60 minutes. Brush with glaze return to oven for an additional 15 minutes until crust is lightly caramelized.
5. Burgers With Feta-Yogurt Sauce, Tomato, and Mint
Packed with American cheese, bacon, and fatty beef, grease-riddled diner burgers are delicious, but they certainly aren’t something you’d consider serving at a sophisticated soirée. Real Simple’s recipe gives a classic burger a much-needed makeover, turning it into a gourmet dish that’s worthy of any elegant affair. If you don’t want to prepare your burger on the grill, feel free to use your stovetop instead.
- 1¼ pounds ground chuck (85% lean or less)
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the grill
- 8 slices country bread
- ½ cup low-fat Greek yogurt
- 4 ounces crumbled feta
- 1 large tomato, sliced into four ⅓-inch-thick slices
- ½ cup fresh mint leaves
Directions: Heat grill to medium-high. Form the beef into four ¾-inch-thick patties. Use your fingers to make a shallow well in the top of each patty. Season with a total of ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Oil the grill and cook the patties with the wells facing up for 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 155 degrees Fahrenheit for medium, 4 to 5 minutes more. Meanwhile, brush the bread with the oil and grill until toasted, 1 to 2 minutes per side. In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt with the feta. Form sandwiches with the bread, burgers, Feta-yogurt sauce, tomato, and mint.
6. Grilled Cheese, Basil, and Pear Sandwiches
Enjoy a more refined grilled cheese with Glamour’s recipe, which consists of sweet pears, fragrant basil, honey, and cheese. This recipe, which yields 2 sandwiches, is gluten- and dairy-free, but you can certainly use dairy products in this dish if you’d like.
- 4 slices whole-grain, gluten-free bread
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 4 slices lactose-free cheddar slices
- 4 slices lactose-fee mozzarella slices
- 1 large ripe pear, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
- 2 tablespoon dairy-free butter
Directions: Lay 4 slices of bread on a flat surface. Using a knife, spread honey onto 2 slices to cover the surface. Lay 2 slices of cheese on 2 slices of bread, then lay pear slices and basil on top. Top the cheese and pear halves with remaining bread slices. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet over low heat; grill sandwiches one at a time. Cover and cook for 2 minutes, then flip using a spatula and cook for another 2 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is melted. Repeat processes with other sandwich. Remove sandwiches from heat and transfer to a serving platter. Serve warm.