Comfort Food Recipes

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Eggplant Pasta Sauce Recipe Recipe

Eggplant Pasta Sauce Recipe

11.02.11 by Jackie

A warm pasta dish is the ideal comfort food, especially with the temperature dropping drastically in the Bay Area. There are no more fresh tomatoes in our planter and I had no canned tomatoes in my pantry either. With a tomato-based sauce out of the question, I made my own creation with a buttery cream cheese base. To that, I added roasted eggplant pulp for smokiness, roasted bell peppers, button mushrooms, garlic, sage and smoked paprika to complement the eggplant.

I used Wellenband egg noodles that I sautéed with the eggplant pasta sauce and added a little pasta water to finish the dish. I found the versatile shape of Wellenband pasta very original; the ruffles hold the sauce beautifully in their ridges. I also like the nice medium size; they can be eaten in one bite, which avoids any messiness, especially for children.


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Oven Roasted Tomato Risotto Recipe Recipe

The summer weather in the Bay Area hasn't been so great this year, and on top of that, an infestation of gophers in our garden forced us to grow fewer tomatoes in small planters this year. Not only are there fewer varieties, but because of the lack of heat the plants have not been all that prolific. I gathered a couple of handfuls of the few ripe cherry tomatoes I could find and I was determined to do something special with them.

To start, I slowly roasted them in the oven. I could have stopped there and just served them in a salad, but I opted to make my husband's favorite comfort food: risotto. Risotto is extraordinarily versatile (I've developed multiple variations) and perfect for any occasion. For this version, I used Carnaroli rice, which holds its shape better than Arborio rice. For a bit more texture, I mixed in melon-seed macaroni (similar rice-shaped pasta). The combination has a creamy mouthfeel, so no heavy cream is necessary. I colored the dish with sharp yellow Cheddar cheese and served it to all the vegetarians in the house. I think it ended up being a perfect send off for the fruits of our labor.


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Blue Cheese Pasta Sauce Recipe Recipe

Blue Cheese Pasta Sauce Recipe

05.19.11 by Jackie

Blue cheese sauce isn't what you would call low-calorie, but it's certainly very tasty. Instead of the usual Gruyère cheese, I used roquefort cheese in a Mornay sauce, which is basically a béchamel (creamy sauce made of flour, butter and milk) with cheese. It's not the authentic French sauce but my husband Lulu and his little sister Sunny loved the strong flavor of blue cheese.

I poured the blue cheese sauce over riccioli pasta and topped with a brunoise, which is a blend of similarly-sized and shaped diced vegetables (I used orange bell peppers, crimini mushrooms, zucchini, jiacama and carrots). The addition of the jicama adds body and crunch to the vegetarian pasta meal. I also finished the dish with crumbled blue cheese as a reminder of the flavor from the creamy pasta sauce.


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How to Cook Swiss Chard: Vegetable Gratin Recipe Recipe

Swiss chard, called blette in French, is a very common winter vegetable.  One of the best way to fight the cold weather winter brings (I'm in Paris right now and it's freezing, literally) is to make a vegetable gratin, and swiss chard makes an excellent gratin.

The preparation is ultra simple. Swiss chard is chopped, sautéed with onions, covered with cheesy white sauce, then baked until golden. It's as easy as 1-2-3. Happy holidays, everyone! Keep warm!


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Tomato Risotto Recipe Recipe

Tomato Risotto Recipe

12.21.10 by Jackie

This version of tomato risotto has a decidedly Indian sensibility. I flavored the rice with tomato chutney as I recently did with an Indian-inspired asparagus pie. The flavors from the chutney are so bold that no other spices and very little salt are needed. I just added chopped sun-dried tomatoes as garnish.

Making risotto takes a little bit of practice to begin with, but once you've worked on your fundamentals, you can start to use the basic recipe and create dozens of different variations. I've stuffed artichokes with risotto, paired pistachio pesto with celery risotto, stuffed it in zucchini flowers, made a roasted beet and ricotta cheese version, and also a rather unconventional risotto with bamboo; the list of adaptations is truly endless.


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