Alex Guarnaschelli's Ultimate Comfort Dishes For Fall And Winter – Exclusive

As the weather cools, we begin turning toward dishes in the kitchen that will provide warmth, comfort, and nourishment. We recently spoke with Food Network television personality and celebrated chef Alex Guarnaschelli at the New York City Wine & Food Festival (NYCWFF), where she raised money and awareness for God's Love We Deliver. Guarnaschelli shared her love of Italian-American cooking with us and which comfort dishes she seeks out this time of year.

Guarnaschelli served as the co-host for Peroni's Taste of Italy event at NYCWFF, and thick slices of pizza and cheesy bowls of pasta were on full display along the pier overlooking the Hudson River. Two things those dishes have in common are the ingredients Guarnaschelli gravitates toward when she's looking for a fall or winter meal that will be rich and decadent: cheese and cream. According to Guarnaschelli, for the ultimate comfort dish, "a cream-baked ziti or an Alfredo with a lot of peas and too much cheese is the way to go."

Cheesy creamy goodness

What could be more comforting during the fall and winter months than a steaming bowl of creamy, cheesy pasta? Alex Guarnaschelli recommends making a baked ziti that is heavy on the cheese and on the cream. One of the joys of making baked ziti at home is that the prep work is relatively simple and the ingredients are minimal. For a classic baked ziti, you need only the basics: cheese, sauce, and pasta. The dish is also wonderfully customizable as some home cooks like to add ground beef or sausage, but the vegetarian version can be just as satisfying as long as you don't skimp on a quality sauce and a hearty portion of cheese.

To prepare Guarnaschelli's other favorite, Alfredo, she wants you to be as generous with the cheese as you are with the peas. Fettucine alfredo can be found at most Italian-American restaurants and is perhaps best described as adult mac and cheese as the base ingredients are cream, cheese, and butter. For a more elevated iteration, we suggest adding eggs and a few dashes of nutmeg, as well as Guarnaschelli's recommended peas. Both pasta dishes are best when they're oozing with melted cheese that entirely coats with pasta, leaving you with a bowl of nourishing, mouthwatering comfort.