5 Comfort Food Recipes Reinvented

Why not mix up your weekly meal plans? Go with some childhood classics like goldfish cracker crusted chicken tenders and hot dog stroganoff or try something with a little kick like Moroccan Meatloaf or Pesto White Bean Burgers.

This month welcome Sara Bir. Sara Bir is the author of two cookbooks, Tasting Ohio and the IACP award-winning The Fruit Forager’s Companion. She also moderates and replies to your comments here on Simply Recipes. Follow her @sausagetarian.

When the going gets tough, the tough want comfort. It’s okay.

What makes a comfort food, anyway? For some, it’s happy childhood associations, while for others it’s simply food that’s not too taxing to make. Things you don’t have to think hard about. And yes, for some it’s food with loads of fat, salt, and carbs.

I wanted to replenish my comfort meter without diving into garbage food territory. So, to shake things up, we put together a week of dinners that look at comfort food classics through a new lens.

A few are the likes of what you’d see at an upscale 21st-century diner, while others harken back to pages of no-frills cookbooks from decades ago. Either way, they’re all about fun.

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Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders

It’s pretty safe to say Goldfish crackers are a comfort snack. If you have kids, these things practically qualify as their own food group. Mashing them up to use as chicken breading seems especially indulgent to me but ultimately this is a super easy, four-ingredient recipe. Instead of Goldfish, you can use other crackers, like Ritz or Cheez-Its.

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Veggie Burgers with White Beans

If you’ve only had those frozen hockey pucks from a box, homemade veggie burgers are a revelation. These have a hearty dab of creamy pesto sauce in the burger mix, plus tons in the topping. You’ll need a batch of cooked brown rice at the ready to make these. I actually skip the buns and serve them over rice, with sautéed veggies in the side.

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Fancy Hot Dogs

Well, why not? There’s something to be said in the use of hot dogs as an ingredient: cheap, familiar, tasty. The comfort in this is knowing the speed at which you can get it on the table. Hot dogs, sour cream, butter, and, if you’re feeling fancy, parsley. Too lowbrow? Fine, fine—try one of our other stroganoff recipes instead.

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Smoked Salmon Hash

Hash for dinner is a weeknight hero. I’ve made hash six ways from Sunday: with Thanksgiving leftovers, or extras from Christmas roast beef. But smoked salmon is just about my favorite hash add-in. For this recipe, you want hot-smoked salmon, which flakes apart easily.

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Moroccan Meatloaf

This is not grandma’s meatloaf. It’s got lamb and beef, pomegranate molasses in the topping, and all the spices you’ll find in Moroccan harissa. Think of it as kebab in meatloaf form. Pop it in the oven and put together a rice pilaf to serve alongside. Not convinced? Try our classic meatloaf instead.

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Sara Bir

Sara Bir a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and the author of two cookbooks: The Fruit Forager’s Companion and Tasting Ohio. Past gigs include leading chocolate factory tours, slinging street cart sausages, and writing pop music criticism. Sara skates with her local roller derby team as Carrion the Librarian.

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  1. Bonnie

    The first chicken one was the only one that was appetizing.

  2. Cynthia

    Sorry The Hot Dog Stroganoff looks GROSS, I would even temp to make this dish.

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