The Comfort Food Recipes Food Network Staffers Always Turn To
Because is there really anything better than comforting classics?
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Our favorite dishes are so much more than food on a plate. They can ease anxiety and bring joy when we need it the most. We asked Food Network staffers which dishes they always turn to when they’re in search of comfort. If you’re in search of somewhere to start, three staffers love lasagna!
You Can Never Go Wrong with Carbs and Sauce
Thanks to my grandma, my favorite comfort food meal has always been some form of pasta. Whether it was stuffed shells over the holidays or spaghetti on Sundays, nothing makes me happier than the combination of carbs and sauce. Lately, my roommates and I have adopted the same habit, usually in the form of lasagna. We tend to follow my roommate’s family recipe, but it’s very similar to Valerie Bertinelli’s Lasagna alla Beciamella (pictured above). (It’s the bechamel that makes all the difference!)
- Rachel Trujillo, Associate Content Editor
Meal Prep Done Right
It’s kind of a joke in my family that we eat extremely healthy food until it comes to dessert, at which point all bets are off. We’ve been known to have dessert first and second courses and they’re usually chocolate-centric. Ina Garten’s recipe for Beatty's Chocolate Cake is truly the moistest, most chocolatey-iest cake I’ve ever made (the secret ingredient: a cup of freshly brewed coffee in the batter). I recently made the cake and sliced the whole thing into pieces (frosting and all). Then I spread them out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, froze them completely and tightly wrapped each one with several layers of plastic wrap and popped them into resealable bags. When I want dessert, I let a slice thaw on the counter. Nothing wrong with a little dessert meal prep, am I right?
- Heath Goldman, Culinary Editor
Pizza vs. Casserole
My boyfriend is from Chicago, so deep dish pizza basically runs through his veins. While we don’t necessarily agree that this saucy dish is actually a pizza (I strongly believe that it’s more of a casserole), we can agree that it’s one of the best comfort meals out there. Constructing your own deep dish pizza can be intimidating, but Food Network Kitchen’s Skillet Deep Dish Pizza makes it easy. Just stretch the pizza dough over the sides of a skillet and layer mozzarella, cooked Italian sausage and tomato sauce. It hits all the notes: savory, crispy and cheesy!
- Allison Underhill, Editorial Assistant
An Easier-Than-You-Thought Side
My go-to comfort food must be French fries. Nothing beats hot crispy fries! It’s so simple to make at home and all you need is four pantry ingredients.
- Vivian Chan, Culinary Producer, Digital
A Colorful One-Pan Classic
This chicken and rice tastes nostalgic, but is a bright, nuanced version of the utilitarian combos we all grew up eating. Homey and studded with comforting ingredients, it’s the kind of stable dish that makes each member of my family happy. I pick the chicken off the bone for my toddler, who appreciates having carrots, celery, chicken and rice that all go together (unlike his usual spin-the-wheel mix-and-match-from-leftovers dinners). My husband and I pair our herby portions with a nice, crisp white wine and instantly feel more relaxed. It’s a warming dish that tastes complex, but is blissfully made in one pan, which is all the more comforting once clean-up time rolls around.
- Erin Hartigan, Senior Managing Editor
You Can Never Go Wrong with Mac and Cheese
My go-to comfort food recipe that I’m making right now is Food Network Kitchen’s Creamy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese. There’s something so comforting about a bowl of warm, creamy pasta. Plus, I always seem to have a box of pasta and cheese on hand. Try adding other ingredients to change up the flavor profile too, such as ranch seasoning, bacon and broccoli!
- Amanda Neal, Recipe Developer
Little Pies for Later
I’ve got a few apples that have seen better days, so I’m going to whip up a batch of hand pies for my husband who’s got a sweet tooth that knows no bounds. Best part is that I can fry up as many as I want now and freeze the rest for the next time he’s in the mood for something sweet.
- Julie Hines, Managing Editor, Food Network Kitchen
Practice Makes Perfect
Whenever I’m in need of a comforting meal, I immediately turn to a pasta with my grandma’s homemade sauce. Lately, I’ve been making lasagna. It’s a process that can take hours, but, let’s be honest, cheesy baked pasta is always worth the wait. My favorite part is the layering: noodles, sauce, ricotta, cheese, repeat. I love the repetition and get satisfaction out of seeing the whole dish come together. When the lasagna is finally ready to eat, my apartment is full of the familiar smell of grandma’s house on Sunday, the most comforting part of all.
- T.K. Brady, Senior Editor
I’m making Giada’s polenta — and dumped a ton of Parmesan cheese in it, to boot. It’s a great side for basically anything you’re eating; the first night we ate it, I served it with pork loin and roasted broccoli. And then the second night, I covered the leftovers with marinara sauce and topped with fried eggs. Super easy, super comforting.
- Lauren Piro, Director, Editorial
Nothing Tastes Better than Home
When I first went away to college the one thing I missed was my family’s home cooked meals. No one tells you that dining hall food isn’t always the best or eating out every night is not an option! Whenever I would come home for break my dad would have a plate of homemade lasagna waiting for me, layered with melted cheese, soft pasta and yummy sausage. I’ll always associate this comforting and satisfying dish with home.
- Lauren Tom, Associate Content Producer
The Holidays, Anytime
I have a lot of canned pumpkin in my pantry right now, so I’ve been baking pumpkin bread. It’s a recipe that I only make for Thanksgiving so it’s especially comforting right now – the smell of the loaves in the oven remind me of family, friends and the togetherness the holidays bring. My whole family loves Food Network Kitchen’s recipe for The Best Pumpkin Bread. We use a tad less sugar than the recipe calls for (2 cups, instead of 3) and the bread still bakes up perfectly sweet and moist every time.
- Kristie Collado, Manager, Digital Programming