Please forgive me, my friends, Perdonatemi amici miei. I have to say it! September is on its way. In food terms, that means the emphasis is on comfort food.
When I hear “comfort food” I think of the foods I ate when I was a kid. My mind immediately shifts to the satisfaction of home cooking, and it then brings on a wave of nostalgia.
Everyone’s idea of comfort food is different, but the feelings you get from it are ultimately the same.
Usually, these foods are high in carbohydrates, fat, or salt. This combination rewards the brain with a feeling of well-being.
Are you like me? Do you self-medicate with these appetizing and consoling meals?
These are some of my favorite Sicilian comfort foods.
When I went to the Italian Festival in Lawrence, MA, my favorite food to splurge upon was Arancini. My cousins and I called them rice balls and that is what I call them today. This is at the top of the comfort food list for my Sicilian relatives.
They are a deep-fried delight. I never eat them with sauce. They were too good plain.
For a special treat around the holidays, try them as an appetizer. My mom used only rice, chicken stock, egg, and shredded chicken as her filling. The Petite Gourmet has a versatile recipe. Get the recipe.
Pasta Alla Norma
I actually ordered this dish in a Sicilian restaurant when I was in Palermo. I love eggplant and eggplant is the star of this fare. Legend says that this dish was named after Norma, a famous opera by Vincenzo Bellini. it sounds good to me. You know how we love a legend.
When you try this meal, you must serve it with homemade pasta. It is truly a special culinary experience. Mark Bittman has a great recipe for Pasta Alla Norma. Get recipe.
If you want to make it with homemade pasta, you might like a pasta machine.
This is my family’s favorite meal. My version with the mini meatballs is a meal within itself. It is so comforting.
Remember our post on soups. You can find the recipe for mini-meatball minestrone in this post. Get recipe.
You might need a huge pot for this recipe.
Meatloaf is, by far, an American comfort food favorite. I have included 2 meatloaf recipes. The first one is my Italian meatloaf. I usually serve this one with potatoes and peas. I do not include gravy, but of course, you can always adjust the recipe.
Sandi's Sicilian Meatloaf
- Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Be sure the sides are covered also.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- 1 lb. ground turkey or ground beef
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- ½ cup Romano cheese
- ¼ cup mozzarella cheese shredded¾
- ¼ cup fresh parsley
- 2 shakes Worcestershire sauce or A1
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 1 can mushrooms stems and pieces (drained)
- Place 1 lb. of ground turkey or beef into a mixing bowl.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients to the ground meat.
- Mix thoroughly. My Nana used her hands, but I use a fork.
- Place the mixed ingredients into a loaf pan, and mold the top with a fork.
- Bake at 350° F for 45 minutes.
- Remove and let sit for about 5 minutes. Then carefully place it into a serving plate.
The second one is a vegetarian meatloaf recipe. I love beans, and this dish is based on lentils.
- 2 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup lentils
- 1 onion thinly sliced small
- 1 cup quick-cooking oats
- ¾ cup Monterey jack OR American cheese
- 1 egg beaten
- 4½ ounces tomato sauce
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp basil dried or fresh
- 1 tbsp parsley dried or fresh
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- Add salt to water and boil in a saucepan.
- Add lentils and simmer covered 25 - 30 minutes until lentils are soft and most of the water is evaporated.
- Remove pan from the stove.
- Drain and partially mash lentils. Add to a mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly.
- Stir in onion, oats, and cheese until thoroughly mixed.
- Add egg. tomato sauce, garlic, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper and mix well.
- Generously spray a loaf pan with PAM and add the mixed ingredients.
- Smooth the top of the loaf with a spoon.
- Bake at 350° F for 20 - 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- Cool in pan for about 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edges of the pan then turn out the loaf onto the serving platter.
I am big on nostalgia that is why I love the food of the fall, winter, and spring so very much. When the winter winds try to blow me away, I am sure that there will be a crockpot full of beef stew to melt the icy day away.
Tell me about your favorite comfort foods. Don’t be shy. Share your recipe with us. Everyone has a different idea of comfort food. I am waiting to hear from you. Let’s see how many countries we can represent.