Dinner Party, But You Don’t Cook? No Problem!

towel with food quoteHi everyone. I had a friend contact me recently who needed a recipe to feed guests coming to a dinner party at their house.  They recently moved and to get to know their neighbors each new resident provides the main course for a meal and other residents bring the appetizers and sides.  She was in a panic because in her words she needed something that she could make when “she can’t cook at all!” 

So here’s the thing, you do not have to be a brilliant cook to host a gathering.  You just need a great recipe.  When I have dinner parties I do tend to do fancier things, but that’s because I’ve been doing this for a long time.  But if you aren’t a cook, stick to something that is generally a crowd-pleaser, and not too hard to create.  The recipe I am sharing came from my mother and it is her lasagna recipe.  It is absolutely delicious and if you follow the recipe as it is written, you will have success.  

Lasagna is the perfect dinner in the winter because it is cheesy, warm, and super comforting to all who eat it.  Try this recipe along with a simple salad, a loaf of garlic bread, and a great bottle of red wine and I know you will be the hit of your event.  Oh, and the best thing about this recipe is that you can make it a day ahead of time.  Throw it together and then simply pop it in the oven before your guests come.  It is a recipe that gets even better when it sits overnight because all of the flavors merry and really intensify.   Cheers to a great dinner party and I hope you love this fabulous Italian feast!  That’s today’s dish!

xoxo Deb

lasagna photo

Deb’s Lasagna:  (Here’s a photo of three that I made before they were baked)

Sauce:

  • 1 lb Italian Sausage
  • 16 oz petite-diced tomatoes (do not drain)
  • 2 6 oz cans tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 10-12 lasagna noodles (you can use no boil)
  • 1 tsp salt

Ricotta filling:

  • 3 cups whole milk or part skim ricotta cheese (DO NOT USE FAT FREE)
  • ½ cup Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 16 oz shredded mozzarella cheese (I use a lot more)

Brown and drain the sausage. In a large pan add drained sausage, tomatoes, tomato paste, water, basil, garlic, and 1 tsp salt. Simmer covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine the ricotta, eggs, parsley, Parmesan, 1tsp salt and 1/2tsp pepper. At this time boil your noodles until al dente, unless you are using no-boil, which saves time. In 9×13 deep pan layer a small amount of the sauce, 3-4  noodles, ricotta mixture, then mozzarella. Repeat this for several layers; I usually get 3 layers at the minimum. End with a small amount of sauce topping the last layer of mozzarella. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes until the cheese is brown and the lasagna is bubbling. Let it stand for at least 10 minutes before you cut it.

Note:  Many times I make a recipe and a half of the sauce just to make sure I have enough. I double it if I making a huge deep-dish lasagna for a lot of people. The canned tomatoes usually come in 14.5 oz cans,  so you will need two cans and then add in about a 1/3 of the second can. Always taste the sauce to make sure that it is seasoned to your liking. Enjoy!!

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