From creamy grits to spaghetti pomodoro, these are the warming dishes our food editors turn to when they want a satisfying bite.

By Kelly Vaughan
October 06, 2020
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spaghetti and no-cook tomato-tuna sauce topped with basil leaves
Credit: Con Poulos

Looking for ways to become a more confident cook at home? Our food editors are here to help. Each week, we shine a spotlight on the exciting things happening in the Martha Stewart test kitchen. Our editors share their best cooking tips, favorite products, new ideas, and more in our weekly series, Out of the Kitchen.

When you want to unwind after a long week or are craving something cozy to soothe your soul on chilly nights, the satisfaction that comfort food offers is undeniable. Humble dishes like macaroni and cheese, chicken pot pie, and spaghetti and meatballs are nostalgic, simple, and always delicious. Our food editors agree; though they've tasted all kinds of unusual foods and created stellar recipes for any and every occasion, there's nothing like getting back to basics.

Senior food editor Lauryn Tyrell turns to her Italian-American roots when she's craving comfort food—spaghetti pomodoro. "When it's prepared well, there is really nothing better. Each forkful is pure comfort," she says. Of course, this pro cook knows how to make even the most modest dish something special. Her tip? "Pull the pasta from the boiling water a touch more al dente than you think, then toss it in a large skillet with the tomato sauce, a splash of pasta water, and a heavy drizzle of olive oil. Sprinkle in a large handful of cheese and fresh basil leaves and toss everything around until the water and fat meld," she explains. The result is a silky bowl of saucy noodles.

Deputy food editor Greg Lofts calls another Italian-American recipe his go-to comfort food: pizza. While he's all for grabbing a slice on the road, Greg finds just as much comfort in making the pizza from scratch. For pizza lovers (of which we know there are many) who want to try their hand at making their own, Greg says you don't need a recipe to make great pizza; it's really more of a formula. "I don't have a particular recipe I always make—it totally depends on my mood! Recently, I've been topping the red sauce and mozzarella with thinly sliced poblano pepper, fresh corn kernels, sausage, and dried oregano. It's such an incredible combination of flavors and textures," he says.

Two Southern staples melt the heart of assistant food editor Riley Wofford. "I always request Texas Sheet Cake for my birthday. It's very humble, but it is loved by everyone. And it makes me think of home," she says. And like many Southerners, Riley also considers grits her go-to comfort food. The creamy texture of hominy grits and all-around indulgent nature of the corn side dish checks every box.

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