Putting a local twist on comfort food
No matter where in the world you find yourself, there are two words we all understand is “comfort foods“. Perhaps your mom made a dish that made you feel all giggly inside or your grandma’s chicken soup that could cure any illness. It does not matter how difficult your day was, you can always come home and have something to look forward to. We all understand what comfort food means and the sense of joy, family and love it brings.
When I think of comfort food, I think of grilled cheese sandwiches, chipati and any kind of pasta. I love sharing these meals with family and friends because food and good company provides great comfort. Many of us move away from where we experienced these delicious meals or we go travelling around the world. You can still enjoy your favorite meals and put a little twist on things
Baked Mac n Cheese aka Pasta al Forno
I am still waiting for the day when someone creates a dish that tastes better than macaroni and cheese. Carbs, an unapologetic amount of cheesy goodness and those crispy corner bits are enough to put a smile on my face. Put a twist on the traditional version by adding herbs and cheeses that are local favorites. Swop out cheddar cheese with Emmentaler, Parmesan or Fontina cheese for an intensely different flavor. You will still experience the goodness of the traditional meal but with a twist that could make for a great secret recipe.
We add pesto to a lot of our meals because it gives you that warm, creamy taste. Pesto pasta is very popular and very comforting. Don’t limit yourself with creating pesto the same way as is known. You can be adventurous and create a coriander pesto or a pesto made with kale. There really is no limit when you want to do pesto with a local twist. Sundried tomato pesto has grown in popularity because someone was ready to take a chance and switch things up.
I love eggplant dishes. It is so versatile to cook with. You can add these to a stew or fry up some crispy eggplant pieces with an egg wash, breadcrumbs and spices, then add it to your pitas. Eggplant rollatine is one of those popular, will last forever recipes. It’s almost like a healthier version of lasagna but does not sacrifice any flavor. Add your twist by using all kinds of cheeses. Ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella work great in this dish. Add local herbs like basil, parsley or oregano to bring out those Italian flavors.
Chicken Pot Pie
Flaky crust, vegetables, chicken bites and saucy goodness are the foundation of a tasty chicken pie. Pair that with a simple salad and you’re good to go. How could we possibly put a twist on this classic dish? I agree that some things should be left unchanged but there are ways to add more flavor to any dish. Here are some small changes you can make to take your chicken pie over the top.
- Add a layer of Pecorino cheese before topping with your pastry.
- After applying your egg wash to your pastry, sprinkle with some oregano and sesame seeds.
- Use a classic tomato pasta sauce as the base for your chicken pie.
A healthy twist
Another way to improve classic dishes is to attempt to make a healthier version. There are ways and means to still have your favorites without all the calories.
- Add pureed butternut to Mac n Cheese for some added nutrition.
- Shepard’s Pie is delicious but you can make a healthier version by substituting the mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower. Also, add as many veggies to your base as you possibly can.
- When making pizza, opt for a whole wheat, tortilla or cauliflower pizza base.
Don’t be scared to put a local twist on classic comfort foods. You might just surprise yourself with the amount of flavor you can squeeze into a dish. Cooking is about exploring various options and being creative. Try out these comfort food recipes and put your own twist on it if you’re feeling adventurous.