10 Recipes That Brought Us Comfort in 2020

Below, Atlantic staffers share the recipes, habits, and cooking lessons that have helped us make it through the year, one meal at a time.


Cooking in a quiet kitchen can make the holiday season feel extra lonely, so I’ve been pulling up YouTube chefs to keep me company. Maangchi, the Korean YouTuber and cookbook author, always teaches me new tips and tricks, but it’s her positivity and warmth that have made me a fan. Her tteokbokki is the perfect spicy and sweet dish for cold winter days, and watching her videos makes me feel like I’m with family.

Morgan Ome, assistant editor

Chard cakes

I made these Ottolenghi chard fritters (from his cookbook Plenty) for the first time this spring. They came out beautifully that first time, when I used the recipe more or less as written, with just a few COVID-times substitutions (mozzarella for the cheese, mint and parsley for the sauce). But the real fun of this recipe is that it’s more of an approach than a prescription, and lends itself well to whatever ingredients you have on hand—a necessity during a time when, at least for my family, grocery-shopping is a rarity. Don’t have the ingredients specified? Use any hearty greens. Use whatever cheese you have. Invent your own sauce. This recipe has never failed me, no matter what tinkering I’ve done.

— Rebecca J. Rosen, senior editor

Midnight pasta

This “midnight pasta” recipe (also here) is so easy (spaghetti, olive oil, red-pepper flakes, and anchovies are all you really need), so delicious, and so filling that I’ve made it dozens of times since March—for a midnight snack (occasionally), for dinner (often), for lunch (even more often), and for breakfast (at least twice). In a year that’s thrown so much into chaos, the simple, consistent pleasures of this recipe—the punch of umami from the anchovies, the warming kick from the garlic, the fact that it takes barely 15 minutes to make—are a blessing.

— Dan Fallon, insights editor

Dan bing hack

You’re probably familiar with the scallion pancake—known for taking hours and patience to produce a perfect swirl and char. In Taiwan, street-food vendors have perfected its eggy cousin, the dan bing. My hacked “recipe” is as delicious as it is simple: Scramble an egg with some chopped scallions (and a few drops of soy or fish sauce), then pour it into a greased frying pan. As it starts to bubble, lay a flour tortilla on top, cook, then flip the whole thing to brown the other side until it’s crispy. Fold it in thirds and serve it the “traditional” Jan-family way: with Sriracha and ketchup. This year, my partner and I were unable to celebrate our wedding with extended family in Taiwan, where we would have gorged on these at the spot across the street from my grandmother’s home. In the meantime, this version is tiding us over.

— Emily Jan, art director

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