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Friday, January 27, 2012

January 25, 2012: Company for Dinner: Lasagna Fest 2012

So my sweet hubby had his work associates over to our condo for dinner. This was fun, because James "the wine guy" brought some very nice wines for us to sample and we had lasagnas. (This will make NAILS very happy. Nails, I have to quote you again--- I offered them "the ultimate comfort food.")
Since I had to work a 24 hour shift the night before, I had to come up with something that did not get worse with 1.5 days of age. If anything, I think lasagna actually tastes BETTER the second day.

So I made Chicken Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna Alfredo (there's a whole blog about this one already [with recipe] and it was tres yummy!) and Pizza Lasagna--which is a classic lasagna decorated with typical pizza ingredients such as pepperoni.

We started this meal with a great Spanish cava (wonderful choice by James) and some appetizers: Mozzarella wrapped prosciutto, sopressa (a rustic aged salami of predominantly pork), cheeses and crackers. The sparkling wine was really nice and under $15/bottle. I wish I remembered the name of it, so I could share it. So many inexpensive sparkling wines do not actually taste all that great, but this was amazing.

We next sampled a Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viognier that Paul and I had had the privilege of buying before. At about $9/ bottle, this is a gem and a subtle sleeper.

For the salad course, we had tortellini salad, "kitchen sink" green salad and mixed fruit chunks. I think you could tell I had plenty of people from west of the Mississippi because the green salad nearly ran out. Tortellini was popular, but you could tell people chose healthy options. Many of our respected guests were from Cali, Kansas, New Mexico. I didn't expect as much from our North Carolina guest, but ends up, most of these folks made an effort toward healthy choices....sort of...

For the pizza lasagna, you could just go straight to Rachael Ray's website, but I think I used the easiest method. I bought a pound of reduced fat hamburger meat and a pound of Jimmy Dean sage pork sausage and browned them in a frying pan. Then the fat was drained off. I added a bit of garlic (1 tsp minced) and 1 tsp ground oregano, I used some "high end" store bought marinara type sauce: one puttanesca--with tomato and black olives and two arrabiata which has a bit of spice to it. I also took a quart of ricotta and mixed it with four eggs.

After browning the meat, I layered three rows of noodles as follows:

A little marinara sauce to keep noodles from sticking to the pan (about a cup) '
No boil noodles ( I recommend Barillo or Delallo)
1/3 of hamburger/sausage mixture
1/3 of the ricotta mixture
1 jar of sauce (I put the puttanesca on top layer, but it doesn't matter)
a layer of basil leaves
a layer of pepperoni

I repeated this layering process three times and on the very top, I sprinkled a cup of mozzarella cheese.

It tasted great. Also, I should note that Rachel Ray does this recipe with non-lasagna pasta noodles if you prefer. TO quote Miss Cutesy, "Yum-oh!"

James brought several nice reds to taste with this but this cab sav from Horse Heaven Hills was my favorite.

For dessert, we sampled cannoli from Coolato Gelato on Gay Street in Knoxville and Tiramisu cake from Fresh Market---both really amazingly good.

Paul's opinion of this meal:

Salad: I love pasta salad
Lasagnas: Wow baby. That was good.
Dessert: Both great.

Tah dah! My first "wifely" business dinner. I'm just glad I didn't lay a goose egg in front of all these nice folks!

If you want Rachael Ray's recipe which I did not use but it is good:

Also, many kudos to chef, Amanda Stokes, for telling me how to REHEAT lasagna that has been covered overnight in the fridge:
Cover with tin foil and heat at 350 for one hour. Thanks Amanda. Had it not been for you, this would have been a COLD meal!


  1. Sounded like a great meal. And im finding I enjoy reading your posts when I'm hungry.

  2. Well, on a diet of sorts, I might imagine it is a nice accompaniment to lean cuisine. You know those dinners and Healthy Choice are really very tasty. I have eaten many of them.

  3. Now you've opened a whole different can o' worms. First lasagna, then the mention of pizza, then you put the two together.... and made the perfect child 'pizza lasagna'. Genius. Pure genius!

  4. I think your idea about giving away lasagna samples (which I actually have done all week) is a great one. Maybe I can make it, freeze it and ship it and become a Lasagna Lady?"

  5. I was one of the lucky 'associates' that had the pleasure of taking part in this wonderful evening. The food was fantastic and the hosts, well anyone who reads this blog knows these hosts can't be beat. Thank you for a FANTASTIC evening!!!!!

  6. Aw,thanks valgal67. We were lucky to have such nice and very intelligent folks to make a wonderful evening for us. Come back anytime!

    1. My friend decided she wanted her baby shower to be a coed dinner party. Since I was in charge of the food, I immediately thought of your delicious chicken lasagna. Like you, I made it a day ahead and it turned out perfect. It was huge hit and lucky for me, there was just enough leftover to take home for a second dinner. Thanks for the inspiration!