How To Make A Summer Farmer’s Market Feast

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It’s August and you have no excuse: tomatoes and peaches are calling. Not the ones with little stickers on them at the supermarket, but the superior, positively bursting-with-summer ones you’ll find at your farmer’s market. “Ugh, but do I really have to go to a farmer’s market?” If that’s you, listen up: yes you do. And I’m going to walk you through it, tell you what to buy, in order to make an incredible Summer Farmer’s Market Feast for six. Are you ready? Let’s do it.

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Birthday Lasagna

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For Craig’s birthday this year, I didn’t take him to a fancy dinner as I’ve done in years past (see here, here and here). This year his birthday had two components: (1) a dinner at home with his favorite foods; and (2) a weekend trip to Palm Springs. You’ll hear about Palm Springs later this week, but this post concerns that dinner at home. When I asked what he wanted for his entree, Craig, a little like Garfield, had one word in his speech balloon: “Lasagna.”

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Lasagne alla Bolognese al Forno (Or: The Ultimate Lasagna)

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Growing up, if I visited a friend and that friend’s mother was cooking dinner, one word would make me run away screaming. That word was “lasagna.”

Theories for why this was the case: (1) I grew up in a non-lasagna household; (2) it was a non-lasagna household because (a) my dad hates cheese and (b) he grew up in a semi-kosher home where meat and cheese were never mixed. Therefore, not only was lasagna exotic to me, it was scary. If I did have to stay at a friend’s for dinner and lasagna was served, I’d do my best to peel it apart and to eat some of the noodles, some of the filling, but to mostly mush it around on my plate.

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White Lasagna

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When I get invited to dinner parties, these days, I pretty much make it a policy not to take pictures. This takes the pressure off the host or hostess, who may be nervous that their food blogging friend is scrutinizing every bite, preparing to skewer them for all the world to see on his food blog the next morning. Mostly, though it takes the pressure off me: by not taking pictures, there’s no expectation that I’m going to blog about it. So if you’re wondering why the sweet potato souffle you cooked for me didn’t make it on to the blog (that’s just a hypothetical) it’s most likely a function of my policy. Unless, of course, you cook me the lasagna in the photo above.

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The Lasagna Song

News flash: The Sopranos had its last episode Sunday night. Did you see it? We did. In fact, we were all so engrossed that when this lasagna (from “Molto Italiano”) came out of the oven–a lasagna that I spent a few hours making, and spent a good amount of money on–we decided to wait until the episode was over before we ate it:

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And as everyone bit in, instead of singing its praises everyone said: “What kind of ending was that?” Or: “Did the cable cut out?” Or: “Worst series finale ever!” (However, after much discussion half of us came around and decided we liked it. The ending, that is.)

Meanwhile, the merits of my lasagna remained unsung. So today I present to you this lasagna song which pays homage to a lasagna that, in my opinion, was worth singing about. You can find the recipe online here, though I cheated and used dry pasta. (I was going to make the lasagna from scratch, but didn’t have enough time.) The results were still tremendous. Harmonicas, however, are optional.