Comfort food for chilly nights

12th May 2022 | Eativity editors
Healthy comfort food

Are you taking part in No Meat May? Nice work, you. Eating less meat and more plants is not just good for your health, it’s also good for the planet. But not everyone wants to go 100 percent plant-based. Some people just want to reduce the amount of meat they eat, but not cut out all animal-based products. Saying goodbye to cheese, for instance, could just feel like too much of a wrench. If you belong in this camp, we’ve got the perfect comfort food recipes to warm your soul on these increasingly wintry evenings.

Comfort food is usually associated with high-calorie, high-fat dishes that don’t offer much in the way of nutritional value. But this doesn’t have to be the case. These recipes offer both the satisfying, happifying qualities of comfort food and the goodness of eggs, fish, dairy, grains and vegies. Adding to the whole idea of comfort, these dishes are also easy, and are guaranteed to please fussy eaters, making dinnertime a stress-free breeze.

Healthy comfort food: mac and cheese

Healthy mac and cheese

Recipe courtesy of Australian Eggs
Serves 4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes

You’ll need:

250g spelt pasta
300g broccoli, cut into small florets
1½ tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp plain flour
400ml milk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 zucchini, grated
80g (1 cup) grated vintage cheddar cheese
4 eggs

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan forced. Spray a 1.5 litre (6-cup) baking dish with oil.

2. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water following packet instructions, adding broccoli for last 2 minutes of cooking time. Drain.

3. Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Cook garlic, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes. Gradually stir in milk and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until thickened. Stir in mustard, zucchini and half the cheese and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add cheese mixture to pasta mixture and stir until well combined.

4. Spoon pasta mixture into prepared dish. Make four indents in the pasta and carefully break an egg into each indent. Sprinkle bake with remaining cheese. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until eggs are cooked to your liking.

Healthy comfort food: salmon and rice egg pie

Salmon and rice egg pie

Recipe courtesy of Australian Eggs
Serves 4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cooking time 25 minutes

You’ll need:

80g long grain rice
500ml fish stock
3 eggs, hard boiled and roughly chopped
50g mushrooms, chopped
¼ bunch parsley, chopped
½ bunch dill, chopped
1 bunch chives, chopped
½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 egg, raw
8 sheets filo pastry
80g baby spinach leaves
200g salmon fillet, skinless/boneless, cut into two slices horizontally
1 egg, for glazing

Optional extras:

Hollandaise sauce
Green salad

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Cook rice in fish stock and place into a bowl to cool.

2. Add chopped boiled eggs, mushrooms, herbs, pepper, lemon zest and juice. Combine with the raw egg.

3. Lay out two puff pastry sheets on a lined baking tray; brush with olive oil and lay over two more puff pastry sheets. Top with half the spinach leaves, one salmon slice and all of the rice mix; then remaining salmon and spinach. Layer on top the remaining sheets of filo pastry, brushed with olive oil in between each layer.

4. Crimp edges of pastry so the top layers join to the lower layers and brush with egg.

5. Bake in oven for about 25 minutes or until golden and cooked. Slice and serve hot with a green salad and Hollandaise sauce.

Healthy comfort food: kedgeree

Kedgeree

Recipe courtesy of Australian Eggs
Serves 4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cooking time 20 minutes

You’ll need:

4 eggs
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tsp mild curry powder
1½ cups (250g) basmati rice
650ml stock
Salt and pepper
1 cup (120g) frozen peas
150g hot smoked salmon, skin removed, flaked
Chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
Greek yoghurt and lemon wedges, to serve

Method:

1. Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 5 minutes (medium boiled eggs), or until cooked to your liking. Drain and immerse in cold water. Peel and slice eggs in half.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring for 3 minutes, or until soft. Add curry powder. Cook, stirring for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Stir in rice.

3. Add stock to pan and stir to combine. Simmer gently, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove lid. Stir in peas. Cover and cook for a further 3 to 5 minutes, or until rice is tender and peas are cooked. Remove from the heat. Scatter over flaked salmon.

4. Top with eggs. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with yoghurt and lemon wedges.

Looking for more comfort food? Try these recipes featuring Australian macadamias, these plant-based versions of family favourites, this tray bake from the book The Comfort Bake and these healthy sweets. We’ve also got these pro tips on cooking with cheese, and these tasty, healthy recipes featuring Australian mushrooms. And for the ultimate comfort food experience, try this recipe for the world’s healthiest chocolate cake.