One of my all time favorite things to do, like ever, is set up a gorgeous dinner table for a great occasion. My dear friend Becky is here visiting from England for a few weeks so I knew I wanted to have a nice dinner for her and it was also a great occasion to kick off summer with.
I have realized a few things while planning this dinner party...
1. Lasagna is by far one of the easiest dinner party meals you can plan
2. I have discovered ikea and it's amazing table scape selection!
I have no idea why I have never been to ikea before but it had to have been one of the most amazing stores / experiences I have ever been in. Being a college student, I'm constantly on the search for nice things with a nice price. All you twenty-somethings out there IKEA IS YOUR FRIEND
I've really been craving Italian food lately (I think it's because if i'm out to eat it's usually for barbecue or Mexican food..) So I thought what the heck let's do some kind pasta
I made one platter meat style and one spinach and mushroom for variety.Pasta is cheap, delicious, filling and usually a crowd pleaser
I made two platters, THE NIGHT BEFORE! Yes, you can make lasagna the night before! It tastes just the same and it saves you practically the entire
day of to relax and enjoy your day. Along with the lasagna I made two large fresh green salads with simple toppings and put out a few dressings for people to choose themselves and gobs of fresh french bread slices in basket's through out the table.Chardonnay and merlot were scattered to drink and pie was for dessert.
I know what you're probably thinking "pie for an Italian dinner?" Why not tiramisu or fresh gelato.. pie is kind of my thing. Go with what you know for dessert because you know the meal will always end on the great note.
Dinner Party Lasagna
1.5 Lbs of ground beef
2 Tsp of kosher salt
1 Tsp black pepper
1 Tbs of minced garlic
1 Tbs of fresh minced basil
1 Tbs of fresh minced rosemary
1 Tbs of fresh thyme
1 Tbs of dried oregano
1 Tbs of dried parsley
1 Tsp of dried crushed red pepper
1 Lb of lasagna noodles
24 Oz of tomato sauce
16 Oz of ricotta cheese
1.5 Lbs of grated mozzarella cheese
2 Cups of grated parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of boiling salt water to a boil. Cook noodles for 5-6 minutes. You will want them extremely al dente, just pliable enough to bend. This will allow the lasagna to hold up and not become mushy overnight.
In a large pan sprinkle meat spices, salt and pepper over ground beef and cook on medium high heat for 10-15 minutes until browned and cooked through.
Spread about a cup tomato on the bottom of your 9x13 pan. Arrange layer of pasta on top following by 1/2 of your pasta sauce. Sprinkle half of your minced Italian meat over sauce. Sprinkle a third of your mozzarella cheese and half of your parmesan. In a bowl mix your egg and ricotta cheese until well combined. Spread this evenly on your second layer of noodles.
Continue your third layer the same as layer one.
*Sub out your meat for fresh mushroom and spinach slices for vegetarian version.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The day of, bring lasagna to room temp and bake in a 350 degree oven uncovered for 40-50 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Top with fresh basil leaves.