This meatless lasagna was described as a showcase of spring vegetables. The filling was full of asparagus, peas, fresh herbs, greens, and leeks. It was loaded with cheese too, of course. 🙂
The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used no-boil noodles. I prepared it the day it was served but it could be prepared up to two days ahead. It can be assembled ahead of time and baked before serving or baked in advance and reheated before serving. Clark notes that the lasagna is easier to slice if it is baked and then reheated.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
For the Béchamel:
4 T unsalted butter (plus additional butter or cooking spray for greasing the pan)
1/3 cup (5 T) all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon fine sea, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 large garlic cloves, finely grated or minced (I used a garlic press)
For the Filling:
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound), ends trimmed, cut into 3/4-inch pieces if thin or 1/2-inch pieces if fat
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup frozen peas (no need to thaw)
1 cup combination of soft herbs (parsley, chives, basil, dill), finely chopped, plus more for garnish
2 leeks, white and light green parts, thinly sliced into half moons and cleaned
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
8 ounces baby spinach or baby greens, like kale or arugula (about 8 cups), chopped if large
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
32 ounces whole-milk ricotta (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
12 ounces dried lasagna noodles (about 12 noodles), or substitute the same amount of no-boil, oven-ready or fresh noodles; all will work
8 ounces whole-milk mozzarella, thinly sliced or torn into pieces
To Prepare the Béchamel:
In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat.
Once melted, add flour and whisk until combined. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until pale golden.
Slowly whisk in the milk, a little at a time, so that the sauce does not clump.
Add the salt, nutmeg and bay leaf. Gently bring to a simmer and let cook for 9 to 12 minutes, whisking often, until the béchamel is thick but still pourable.
Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan and grated garlic, and taste, adding more salt if needed. (I used coarse salt.)
To Prepare the Filling & Complete the Dish:
Place a 12-inch skillet over medium to medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Let it heat until it thins out, about 30 seconds, then add the asparagus and sauté, shaking the pan, until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
Season asparagus with salt and pepper, then transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the frozen peas and 2 tablespoons mixed soft herbs.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan and heat until the oil thins out, about 30 seconds, then add the leeks, fennel seeds, red-pepper flakes and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Sauté leeks until tender and golden at the edges, 4 to 6 minutes.
Add the spinach and remaining herbs, working in batches if needed, and sauté until the greens are very tender and the pan is very dry, about 10 minutes.
Stir in lemon zest and juice. Taste and add more salt if needed. It should be well seasoned.
Add leek-spinach-herb mixture to a large bowl. Stir in ricotta and 3/4 cup each Parmesan and pecorino (save remaining Parmesan for the top). Taste and add more salt if needed.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. (I set my oven to true convection.) Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray or a little butter.
Remove bay leaf from béchamel, then ladle some of the sauce into the bottom of the baking pan until just covered.
Place as many noodles as will fit on top of the béchamel, breaking or cutting them to fit in one layer.
Ladle a little more béchamel on top of the noodles, covering the surface.
Add half of the ricotta-leek-spinach-herb mixture, spreading evenly, then sprinkle half of the asparagus-pea mixture on top.
Add another layer of noodles, then béchamel, then the remaining ricotta mixture, then the remaining asparagus-pea mixture.
Top with the sliced mozzarella.
Add a third and final layer of noodles (don’t worry if you don’t end up using all of the noodles) and cover with remaining béchamel.
Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan.
Cover the pan with parchment paper and then foil; place on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips.
Bake for 30 minutes, then remove parchment and foil. Rotate the pan.
Bake for another 30 minutes on convection or up to 40 minutes in a standard oven, or until golden brown and bubbling on top. Rotate the pan for even browning, if necessary. (If the top is still pale, you can run the lasagna under the broiler for 1 to 3 minutes.)
Fried chicken is an essential part of my husband’s annual birthday feast. This may be the best version I’ve ever made. Not only was the meat incredibly tender from the lemony and garlicky brine, the seasoning in the crispy coating was super delicious as well. Fabulous.
The recipe was first published in Food and Wine in 2007 and then updated and re-published as a staff-favorite recipe in 2022. It was contributed by Thomas Keller who serves it every other Monday at his restaurant Ad Hoc in Napa Valley. The recipe was adapted from his book Ad Hoc at Home.
I adapted the recipe by modifying the method and proportions, and by substituting boneless, skinless chicken thighs for bone-in chicken pieces. I brined the chicken the day that I fried it. I also used a countertop electric skillet to more easily maintain an even cooking temperature- absolutely life changing. (Thank you to my Mother-in-Law for giving it to me!)
I made 15 chicken thighs- enough to have leftovers for days. That’s how we like to extend birthday celebrations in my house. 🙂 I included instructions on how to successfully re-heat the chicken below.
10 to 15 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry
For the Seasoned Flour & To Finish the Dish:
3 cups (about 12.75 oz) all-purpose flour
2 T garlic powder
2 T onion powder
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 cups whole buttermilk
about 2 quarts canola or peanut oil, for frying
fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs, for garnish
fine sea salt or ground fleur de sel, for garnish
To Brine the Chicken:
In a large bowl, combine the water and salt; stir until dissolved.
Pour the salt water into a 2 gallon zip-top bag inside a large pot. (I used a stainless pasta pot.) Add the honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, thyme, parsley, and lemon halves; stir to combine.
Add the trimmed boneless, skinless chicken thighs, being sure they’re completely submerged; seal the bag. Refrigerate for 10 to 12 hours. (Do not refrigerate for longer than 12 hours or the chicken may become too salty.)
Remove chicken thighs from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Scrape off any herbs or peppercorns stuck to the meat. Discard the brine.
Let the chicken stand until it comes to room temperature, about 30 to 45 minutes.
To Coat and Cook the Chicken:
Fill a 12-inch electric skillet with about 2 quarts of oil; heat to 320-325 degrees. (Alternatively, fill a large pot with oil to a depth of 2 inches; heat over medium to medium-high to 320 degrees.)
Set a wire rack over a foil and paper towel-lined, rimmed, baking sheet. Reserve for cooked chicken.
Line a second rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Reserve for raw chicken.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Divide the mixture between two glass pie dishes (about 1 1/2 cups each).
Put the buttermilk in a large, shallow bowl. Season with remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
Working with one chicken thigh at a time, dip the chicken in the first bowl of flour; turn to coat and pat off excess. Dip into buttermilk, letting excess drip back into the bowl. Dip into the second dish of the flour mixture.
Transfer the coated chicken to the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining pieces. (I continued to do this while simultaneously starting to cook some of the chicken thighs.)
Carefully lower the chicken thighs into the hot oil, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a temperature of 320 degrees. (I cooked 3 thighs at a time.)
Cook for 2 minutes, and the carefully turn over using tongs, continuing to cook and turn as needed for even browning. (I had 1 set of tongs for transferring the raw chicken and 1 set of tongs to turn the chicken while cooking.)
The chicken is cooked when it is a deep golden brown, very crisp, and an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest portion reads 165 degrees, about 9 minutes total.
Transfer the cooked chicken to the prepared wire rack set over the lined baking sheet. Let it rest while you fry the remaining chicken pieces. Sprinkle with fine sea salt to taste, if desired.
Transfer the fried chicken to a platter, garnish with the herb sprigs or chopped herbs. (Alternatively, the rosemary and thyme can be cooked in the hot oil for a few seconds before being used as a garnish.)
Serve hot or at room temperature.
The original recipe recommends cooking chicken breasts and wings at 340 degrees, if using instead of thighs or drumsticks.
If using bone-in skin-on chicken (the best meat-to-crust ratio is achieved using 2 1/2 to 3 pound whole chickens), let the pieces rest skin-side up. Modify the cooking time as needed to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees (about 12 minutes for thighs and drumsticks, 7 minutes for breasts, and 6 minutes for wings).
To reheat leftover fried chicken do not be tempted to use a microwave! Reheat uncovered, placed on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet in a 400 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
This is an amazing vegetarian version of one of my favorite dishes. It was absolutely packed with flavor. I served it with Turkish bulgur and vegetable pilaf on the side- perfect.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I modified the method and proportions. I roasted one large red onion but would consider using two next time.
We ate the filling served on warm mini naan. As it was completely overstuffed, we had to use utensils to eat it. The filling could also be stuffed in a pita or served on a larger flatbread.
Yield: 4 servings
For the Filling:
1/2 cup (8 T) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, plus more as needed
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
2 large heads cauliflower (about 2 1/2 pounds each), trimmed and cut into bite-size florets
1 or 2 large red onions, cut into 1/4-inch wedges
For the Tahini Sauce:
2 T fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste (I used Meyer lemon juice)
1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper or 2 tsp harissa paste or other hot sauce, plus more to taste
2 fat garlic cloves, finely grated, passed through a press or minced
1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt or fine sea salt
2/3 cup tahini
2/3 cup ice water, plus more as needed
warm naan, pita, or other flatbread
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley, or more to taste
chopped tomato, cucumber and olives (I omitted the olives)
bulgur and vegetable pilaf, optional
Arrange racks in the upper and lower thirds of your oven. Heat oven to 425 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
Line two rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper.
Prepare the cauliflower: In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, cumin, paprika, salt, coriander, turmeric, black pepper and cayenne. Add cauliflower and onion, and toss until well coated.
Divide the mixture and spread in a single layer on the prepared sheet pans.
Roast vegetables until they are golden brown, slightly crisp and tender, 30 to 40 minutes, stirring once or twice, and rotating the pans halfway through the roasting time. If the vegetables look dry as they roast, drizzle with a little more olive oil. (I roasted the vegetables for 35 minutes on convection.)
As the vegetables cook, prepare the tahini sauce: Whisk together lemon juice, Aleppo pepper or harissa, garlic and salt in a small bowl, and let sit for a minute or two to mellow the garlic.
Whisk in tahini.
Whisk in ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is smooth and thin enough to drizzle. You may not need all of the water or you may need to add a little more: Tahini brands vary a lot.
Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more Aleppo pepper or harissa, lemon juice and salt if you like. The sauce should taste zippy and creamy.
Warm the flatbread by placing them directly on the bottom oven rack during the last 5 minutes as the vegetables roast. (Or you can warm the bread on another baking pan.)
Scatter parsley on top of the roasted vegetables and serve with warm naan or pita, tahini sauce, chopped tomato, cucumber and olives, as desired.
This is another rich pasta dish incorporating chili crisp. I must confess that my family preferred this one. My husband even declared that this dish was “restaurant quality.” 🙂
I added one tablespoon of chili crisp fearing that it would be too spicy otherwise, but, as the cream offset the heat, I think it could easily have incorporated the full amount for my crowd. Every brand varies in spiciness, so it is important to taste it and adjust the amount to your spice-tolerance.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Genevieve Ko. I used unsalted butter and added salt. I also included more spinach. Quick and delicious.
Yield: 6 servings
4 T unsalted butter
1 to 2 T chili crisp, plus more to taste and for serving (I used Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp)(see Tip)
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound dried fettuccine
1 (6-ounce) package baby spinach
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan (2 1/4 ounces), plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
While the water heats, melt the butter with the chili crisp and a pinch or two of coarse salt in a very large skillet or Dutch oven over low heat. (Add chili crisp 1 tablespoon at a time.) (I used a large and wide enameled cast iron pan.)
Whisk in the cream; taste and adjust heat, if desired, by adding more chili crisp. Keep warm over low. (It should steam, not bubble.)
Cook the fettuccine until al dente according to the package directions. Use tongs to transfer the noodles to the cream mixture, reserving the pasta water.
Add the spinach and turn with tongs until the noodles are well coated.
Add the Parmesan and toss, still over low heat, until the noodles are slicked with a creamy sauce, adding a spoonful or two of pasta water if needed to loosen the sauce.
Place in a serving bowl or divide among serving dishes; top with Parmesan.
Serve immediately. Additional chili crisp can be provided at the table, if desired.
Tip: For this dish, try to add more of the solids than the oil to the sauce for the most flavorful dish.
I have two recipes that incorporate chili crisp to share. This saucy dish was subtly spicy and very creamy from the tahini. It had a deep sesame flavor. Next time, I may add a bit more soy sauce and rice vinegar to the sauce.
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Kendra Vaculin. It was a perfect springtime meal.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
5 T (1/3 cup) chili crisp
5 T (1/3 cup) tahini
3 T soy sauce, plus more, to taste
3 T unseasoned rice vinegar, plus more, to taste
12 to 12.8 oz dried soba noodles
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, cut into 2″ pieces
2 T vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
1 lb ground pork
thinly sliced scallions and/or cilantro, for serving
1/2 T to 1 T sesame seeds, toasted, for serving
Whisk chili crisp, tahini, soy sauce, and rice vinegar in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings, as desired. Set sauce aside.
Toast sesame seeds in a 350 degree oven until fragrant and lightly browned, stirring once or twice, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Cook soba noodles in a large pot of boiling water until almost cooked, about 2 minutes.
Add asparagus pieces; cook until noodles are al dente and asparagus is crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.
Rinse noodles and asparagus under cool running water; reserve pot.
Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high.
Cook ground pork in an even layer, undisturbed, until browned, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring and breaking up with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 3 minutes. (Use a splatter screen!)
Add reserved sauce and cook, scraping up browned bits, 1 minute.
Transfer pork mixture, noodles, and asparagus to reserved pot. Add 2/3 cup cooking liquid; cook over medium heat, stirring gently with spoon and adding more cooking liquid if needed, until noodles and meat are well coated, about 2 minutes.
Serve topped with thinly sliced scallions, cilantro (if using), and toasted sesame seeds.
I have two wonderful chicken and rice dishes to share. This dish was part of The New York Times’ List of The Best of 2022- I’m surprised that I missed it when it was first published. It was fresh, delicious, and can be enjoyed in every season. I prepared the chicken in a cast iron skillet on the stove, but it could also be grilled in warmer weather.
The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. I omitted the olives and modified the method and proportions. I served the chicken over white Basmati rice with the cucumber salad and roasted broccoli on the side. Great.
Yield: 6 servings
2 cups plain whole milk Greek yogurt
6 garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
Kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 tsp dried oregano or mint
2 1/2 to 3 pounds (about 10) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry
1 1/2 pounds cucumbers (preferably Japanese, Persian or mini, seedless cucumbers)
1 pound ripe tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes, halved)
2 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
4 ounces feta, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved (I omitted them)
white or brown Basmati rice, for serving, optional (I used 2 cups of rice with 1 tsp salt)
If serving chicken over rice, prepare the rice according to the package directions. (I used a rice cooker.)
In a large bowl, stir together the yogurt and garlic; season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer 1/2 cup of the yogurt to a medium bowl and reserve.
Coat the chicken: To the large bowl, add the oregano and stir to combine. Season the chicken all over with 2 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of pepper. Add the chicken to the large bowl and turn to coat; set aside.
Start the salad: Smash the cucumbers with the side of your knife until craggy and split. Rip into 1-inch pieces and transfer to a colander placed in the sink. Slice or chop the tomatoes into bite-size pieces. Add to the cucumbers along with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. (It may seem like a lot of salt, but most will drain away.) Toss to combine and leave to drain.
In a large nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet.)
Scrape excess marinade off the chicken, then cook the chicken in batches, adding oil to the pan if necessary, until it’s well browned and releases from the pan, 5 to 7 minutes. Use a splatter screen! Flip and cook until cooked through, another 5 to 7 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Transfer to plates to rest. (For grilling info, see Tip.)
To the medium bowl of yogurt, add the feta and mash with a fork until a chunky paste forms.
Shake the cucumbers and tomatoes to get rid of any excess moisture. Add to the feta yogurt along with the olives (if using) and stir until coated. The balance is dependent on your produce and feta, so season to taste with salt and pepper until flavors are vivid.
Serve the chicken over rice with the cucumber-feta salad on the side.
Tip: To grill the chicken: Heat a grill to medium and clean and grease the grates. Grill the chicken over direct heat until it’s well browned and releases from the grates, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip and cook until cooked through, another 5 to 7 minutes. (For a gas grill, close the lid between flips.)
This is an upgraded version of the classic comfort food sandwich. The incorporation of Korean red chili paste, gochujang, added the perfect amount of heat.
The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Hana Asbrink. I used ground turkey and modified the proportions. It was a great one-pot meal. Messy and tasty. 🙂
Yield: 6 servings
1 T canola oil
1 lb. ground turkey or ground beef (ideally 20% fat)
1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 3/4 tsp Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more
freshly ground black pepper
1 medium green bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
10 garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
3 T gochujang (I used Trader Joe’s)
2 T ketchup
1 T soy sauce
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T dark brown sugar
1 tsp yellow mustard
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
1 T balsamic vinegar
6 potato rolls
Kosher dill spears and potato chips, for serving, recommended but optional
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. (I used a 12-inch stainless steel sauté pan.)
Add ground meat, spreading out in a single layer; sprinkle with 1 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt and season with freshly ground pepper. Cook, undisturbed, until a light brown crust forms underneath, about 3 minutes.
Continue to cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until almost completely brown all the way through, about 3 minutes more.
Push meat to one side of pan. Reduce heat to medium and add chopped bell pepper, onion, chopped, grated garlic cloves, and 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt; season with pepper.
Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in gochujang, ketchup, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, dark brown sugar, and yellow mustard.
Add one 15-oz. can tomato sauce and 1/4 cup water and stir again to combine.
Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring and scraping up any brown bits, until thick and saucy, 10–12 minutes.
Remove mixture from heat and stir in balsamic vinegar; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Spoon saucy meat mixture onto potato rolls. Serve with kosher dill spears and potato chips, as desired.