Make This Weekend: Your Sneaky Dinner Party Plan
You know the story: You’ve invited everyone over on Friday night for dinner. You’ve got grand plans for an extravagant menu with multiple courses. You’re channeling your inner Nigella or Bobby Flay, and you’ve found at least three new recipes you’re excited to try.
And then, reality hits. Your deadline was moved up. Your boss is unexpectedly out, so you have to man the ship. An important client calls right as you’re walking out the door and continues to talk for the next 45 minutes. Whatever the reality is, I know you’ve been there. I have, too.
Enter the Super Sneaky Dinner Party plan. Well, it’s not so sneaky, really, but it's a super-simple recipe that will still wow your guests, plus some store-bought goodies to round out your menu. You’ll be cool, calm and collected when the party starts, and your guests will think you’ve slaved all day. Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me!
The Game Plan
Start by grabbing two pots and turning your oven on to 375 degrees. In one pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat, then add the flour, mixing until it creates a smooth paste.
Stir for 2-3 minutes, then add the half and half, whisking continuously so that lumps don’t form. Add in the salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and continue to whisk until it thickens.
Add in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese and 2 cups of Mozzarella, and give everything a good stir so the cheese melts. Remove from heat.
In the second pot, heat up the olive oil over medium heat, then add the onion and sauté for 10 minutes or so. Once the onions are brown, add in the garlic, then stir everything together. If you’re feeling nifty, you can do this while you’re making the cream sauce, as the onions don’t require too much attention beyond giving them a stir every so often.
Once the onions and garlic have browned, season the ground turkey with salt and pepper, then add it to the pan and cook through. Roughly chop the spinach and basil, then add to the pan. Remove the pan from the heat, then stir in the Ricotta cheese.
Now, you’re ready to start layering. Grab a large baking dish, and spread a spoonful of the cream mixture over the bottom. Follow with a layer of the no-cook lasagna noodles (break them to fit your dish if need be), then a layer of the turkey and spinach mixture, then another layer of the cheese sauce, a lasagna noodle layer, a meat layer, then a final cheese sauce layer.
Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan and Mozzarella over the top, then pop into the oven for 40-45 minutes until the top is golden brown.
While the lasagna is baking, you can prep everything else. Decant the dip into a pretty bowl, and place it on your coffee table or bar with a big bowl of chips. Wrap the garlic bread in foil so it’s ready to throw in the oven 10 minutes before you’re ready to go. Rinse the berries, then set in the fridge with a damp paper towel on top. Slice the pound cake, but be sure to wrap in plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out.
Set your table, grab the dessert plates, forks, and spoons, and set them aside so they’re ready to go for later. Make sure you’ve got your wine chilling and glasses on hand so you can offer your guests a drink when they arrive. I’ve said it before, but the more you can do ahead of time, the more relaxed you’ll be at your party, and the more fun everyone will have!
After the lasagna has been baking for 35 minutes, pop in the garlic bread. After 45 minutes, remove the lasagna, letting it sit for 5 minutes before cutting into it. You can use this time to broil the top of the garlic bread for some extra crunch.
I’m a big fan of family-style dining, so bring the lasagna and garlic bread to the table, and let everyone serve themselves. All you have to do for dessert is grab the ice cream from the freezer, and give everyone a slice of pound cake, a scoop of ice cream, and a sprinkling of berries.
Voilà—dinner party success!
(This lasagna will serve 6-8 hungry adults.)
Photos courtesy of Niki Lowry
Niki comes to us from the financial world, but she’s an online girl at heart. After graduating from Cal, she spent a couple of years traveling and working (Ireland – NY – OC) before finally making it back to San Francisco to pursue a career in business and marketing. An avid fan of handwritten thank you notes, Niki also loves fresh flowers for any occasion, the sound of being underwater, and she firmly believes ketchup bottles do not belong on the breakfast table. When she’s not Musing, you can find her on her blog, wandering around the Ferry Building in San Francisco, or with her nose in a ridiculously addicting YA book.More from this Author