When celebrated food writer David Lebovitz is coming to dinner, you have a lot of planning to do. Do you make something fancy? Something casual? Something French? American? After lots of cookbook perusing and soul-searching, I remembered a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe I saw in The Guardian for Swiss Chard lasagna with Gruyère and hazelnuts. And I thought: “Now that’s something David won’t be expecting!”
Remember the end of The Goonies, when the Goonies reunite with their parents and they’re rattling off all of the things that happened to them on their adventure? And Data says, “The octopus was very scary,” even though there wasn’t an octopus, though technically there was an octopus, it was just cut from the movie?
That’s how it feels to tackle an epic recipe. And when it comes to epic recipes, the reigning queen on my bookshelf is Nancy Silverton. Her Frito Pie — which was a three day process — is still one of my proudest culinary moments. That recipe, like the one I’m about to tell you about, comes from her Mozza at Home, a cookbook that doesn’t get enough praise, possibly because it’s affiliated with a restaurant, even though it’s one of the best cookbooks on my shelf. (Put it on your list.)
Hi, so we’re going to Provincetown next week and I’ll be off the grid and I wanted to leave you with one more post before I go. Here’s one about two lasagnas.
Our friend and neighbor Kyle had a birthday last week and I offered to cook him a dinner. I could tell he was excited about the idea of a meat lasagna, but one of the guests didn’t eat pork, so I had two options: 1. Disappoint Kyle and make a big vegetarian lasagna (no meat!); or 2. Make TWO lasagnas, one meat, one vegetarian. I’m thinking, by the title of this post, you’ve already figured out which path I chose…
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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:
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.