The change in seasons and cooler weather renew the appeal of comfort food. We start scrabbling hopefully, hungrily, through recipe books, looking for a new, ideally fresh-from-scratch dish. Something a step up from defrosting a frozen dinner or opening a can of soup.

Hold the search. Here's an easy answer to feed the family and send them happily out to sweep leaves or stack logs. Philip Jones, president of Jones Dairy Farm and a Paris-trained chef, developed this one-dish meal that takes only about half an hour to make.

The recipe starts by borrowing from Chinese cooking, then absorbing other flavors before a fast simmer to a tasty finish.

"I based this recipe on a traditional lo mein I encountered during my early training as a chef," Jones said. It's in the genre of what he refers to as a "meal-in-a-bowl — soups, stews and noodle dishes." He suggests that for many Americans, they're the new style of comfort food, "hearty, healthful and full of fresh ingredients."

He points out that his Sichuan-style lo mein includes classic Asian ingredients — garlic, ginger and soy. Bok choy, an Asian green, adds a hint of sweetness. Red bell pepper gives flavor and color, and — a contemporary twist — Canadian bacon provides smoky, flavorful protein.


(Start to finish about 25 minutes)

8 ounces vermicelli or thin spaghetti, broken in half

2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided

2 teaspoons bottled or fresh minced ginger root

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups sliced bok choy or Swiss chard

1 red bell pepper, cut into short, thin strips

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce

6-ounce package Canadian bacon slices, cut into strips

2 green onions, cut diagonally into 3/4-inch pieces

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 cup chopped peanuts or cashews (optional)

Cook vermicelli according to package directions; drain and toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add ginger root, garlic and pepper flakes; stir-fry 30 seconds. Add bok choy and bell pepper; stir-fry 2 minutes. Add broth and soy sauce; bring to a simmer. Add green onions; simmer until vegetables are tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in vermicelli and Canadian bacon; heat through. Transfer to 4 shallow bowls; top with cilantro and, if desired, peanuts.

Makes 4 (1 1/2 cup) servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 365 cal., 10 g fat, 23 g pro., 20 mg chol., 1,271 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 48 g carbo. Recipe for AP from Jones Dairy Farm.