Some dishes achieve the rank of comfort food by their familiarity, simplicity, and the childhood memories they evoke. Old favorites like macaroni and cheese, vegetable soup, and fried chicken became dinner-table standbys because they’re good, easy, and call for ingredients found in most pantries or refrigerators. Today’s cooks, more aware than their mothers and grandmothers were of the salt, fat, and cholesterol content of what they serve, often look for ways to create more healthful, tasty versions of meals they enjoyed in more carefree days. When you’re updating a time-honored recipe, using fresh herbs can deliver enough flavor that your old favorites will have the taste without the guilt.
The following recipes use fresh herbs and ingredients such as sun-dried tomatoes and tomatillos to deliver the contemporary twist along with a dose of excitement. The reduction of fat, cholesterol, and sodium where appropriate brings them into line with today’s dietary guidelines without sacrificing flavor. Experiment with modifying other favorite recipes in similar ways.
Terri Wuerthner is an herb lover and food developer in Palo Alto, California.