When I first moved to NYC, people had dinner parties. Sure, we were young and couldn’t really cook so the food fare was far from fabulous. Sometimes it was even sorta gross. But, we had dinner parties anyway. It was a big deal…acting all grown up and stuff.
I love a good dinner party…but, no one seems to have them any more. Much more a rarity than the norm. Maybe it’s because our apartments are small and a lot of us just don’t have the space for a sit down dinner.
It’s true…space is at a premium in NYC and sometimes difficult decisions must be made when choosing how best to maximize the limited space. I mean, when I moved from my house to this apartment…I gave away, yes gave away, about 2/3 of my kitchen stuff…When confronted with the choice between giving up some of my shoes or storing a second Le Creuset 6 qt pot…You know what won out.
Everyone told me my dining room table would be too big for this apartment. It’s true. The table is enormous. Even without the extensions that live in a lovely climate controlled storage space in CT, I can easily seat 8.
So, because I cook AND I have a proper dining table in the ‘dining area’ of my apartment, I host dinner parties. And, there’s no better excuse for a dinner party than a good old fashioned snowstorm.
Last night the posse rallied chez moi to ride out Nemo – the Blizzard of 2013. For storms, I tend to make comfort food. Good, crowd pleasing, stick to your ribs, comfort food. And, last night was no exception.
Lasagna (Serves 8)
Small apartment tip: If at all possible, have a dining area in your tiny space.
- 1 box Barilla brand no-cook lasagna sheets – you only need 1 box, but get two as you’re bound to break at least one of the sheets. Trust me.
- 1 – 1.25lbs of ground beef – I used 93/7 because it was on sale at Whole Foods
- 2 sweet Italian pork sausages…OK, they didn’t have any yesterday, so I bought some awesome Pork Broccoli Rabe sausages
1 1/2 Cups of whole milk ricotta cheese…normally I am a Poly-O loyalist…but, WF has its own brand and I was trying to avoid a 2 grocery store day.
- 1/2 Cup of grated Parmesan Cheese
- 3 24oz jars of Sauce…I use a combination of 2 parts marinara sauce + 1 part vodka sauce. Note the 365 Organic Marinara sauce is a 25oz jar…that was AOK. And, you don’t really need all three jars…but you need more than 1 jar of the marinara. And extra sauce for leftovers is good.
- 1 1/2 cups of shredded or grated good mozzarella cheese
- McCormick’s or similar Italian Seasoning
- Olive Oil
Preheat Oven to 375 degrees
1. In a large saute pan (mine is a 3 qt non-stick All-Clad one) heat about 2 TBSP of olive oil over medium heat
2. Remove the sausage from casing and break into pieces and drop into the heated olive oil
3. Cook the sausage completely….Then remove from the saute pan and set aside
4. Add the ground beef to the pan and brown
5. Drain the excess oil from the pan and then re-add the browned sausage to the browned beef
6. Sprinkle about 1 TBSP of Italian Seasoning over the meat/sausage. If you don’t have Italian spice (horrors!) just use a combination of dried oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, basil. Whatever feels Italian-y.
7. Pour in 1 complete jar of marinara sauce and about 1/2 C of the vodka sauce over the meat
8. Stir to combine and then simmer on low for 5 minutes
9. In a small sauce pan, heat 2 cups of marinara sauce over low heat
10. In a bowl, combine the ricotta cheese with the parmesan
11. Layer up the Lasagna:
- Coat the bottom of the lasagna pan with a layer of the marinara sauce heating in the small sauce pan
Using a small spatula, spread the ricotta cheese-parm mixture on one side of 4 Barilla no cook lasagna sheets…Some cooks will tell you to soak the no cook sheets in warm water before using them, but you really don’t need to. So, don’t.
- Place the cheesed lasagna sheets cheese side up onto the sauce layer
- Sprinkle about 1/4 Cup of mozzarella over the ricotta/parm lasagna sheets
- Cover the cheese with 1/3 of the meaty sausage-y sauce
- Repeat 2 more times
- Cover the final meat layer with a layer of the no cook lasagna sheets
- Using the remaining non-meat sauce, cover the entire lasagna – be generous. It’s the sauce that will heat and steam to cook the no-cook lasagna sheets.
- Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese and about 2 TBSP of grated parm over the lasagna
11. Cover the lasagna with tin foil and put into the oven for :45mins
12. Remove the tin foil and bake an additional :05 – :10 mins
13. Remove from the oven and let stand for :15mins. This is important….It will make the lasagna easier to cut into free standing servings
My table is too big for the apartment. I know that, I do. But, as long as people will still come to dinner, I’m keeping it. I might even go out and get two more chairs.