When it comes to dinner parties, Ina Garten is the queen. And this week Ina is helping you throw your next dinner party with a menu that is designed to be made ahead. Because making it ahead is the key to everything that Ina says makes a great party: you'll be relaxed, and you'll have more fun.
Today we have everything you need to put this menu together from start to finish — whether it's for a dinner party or simply a Friday night in with your family.
A Colorful Vegetarian Dinner Party
The other beautiful thing about this menu is that, with just a few minor omissions, it's vegetarian. And yet I wouldn't even mention this fact to a mixed table of omnivores and vegetarians; it's so hearty, so satisfying, that the question of meat is a non-issue.
I also love how vibrant and colorful Ina's recipes are. We're still on the cusp of spring, and it's not quite time for summer's crops to come rolling in. A rich, warm lasagna is still appreciated, as is the soup.
And it's so easy to make ahead! Here's how to do it, step by step.
Ina Garten's Make-Ahead Dinner Party Menu
Appetizer: Spanish Tapas Peppers
First Course: Wild Mushroom & Farro Soup
Main Course: Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
Dessert: Chocolate Banana Crumb Cake
Round out this menu with a few of these sides!
Your Cooking Timeline
What to Prep Ahead
Up to a Week (or More) Ahead
- Make the Wild Mushroom & Farro Soup and keep refrigerated (or freeze for up to 3 months).
- Make the dinner rolls and freeze for up to 3 months.
The Day Ahead
- Prepare the Roasted Vegetable Lasagna and refrigerate, uncooked, overnight (or freeze for up to 3 months — thaw overnight in the fridge before baking).
- Prepare the Spanish Tapas Peppers, and refrigerate, uncooked, overnight.
- Prepare and completely bake the Banana Crumb Cake. Wrap it well and let it sit at room temperature overnight.
- Prepare the dressing for the salad and refrigerate.
1h:00 before guests arrive
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Bake the Spanish Tapas Peppers for 35 to 40 minutes.
- Toss the salad with the dressing and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Make the whipped cream for the dessert and refrigerate in a sealed container until ready to serve.
0:15 before guests arrive
- Transfer the tapas to a serving platter and set out for guests to nibble as they arrive.
- Lower the the oven to 350°F.
- Put the lasagna in the oven to bake and set a timer for 6o minutes.
0:00 — Guests arrive!
- Open wine and serve the tapas.
- Place the frozen dinner rolls, wrapped in foil, in the oven with the lasagna and bake until warmed through, 15 to 20 minutes. (Note: This is a slightly warmer oven temperature than recommended in our directions; just keep an eye on the rolls and remove from the oven when they're warmed through.)
0:30 after guests arrive
- Invite everyone to the table.
- Serve the soup with dinner rolls.
0:45 after guests arrive
- Check the lasagna and remove from the oven when the top is browned and bubbly (60 to 70 minutes total baking time).
- Bring the lasagna to the table and let it rest about 10 minutes while the guests are finishing their soup.
1h:00 after guests arrive
- Serve the lasagna with the salad.
- Serve the banana cake with whipped cream.
Your Shopping List
To buy at the grocery store:
- Garlic (2 heads)
- Yellow onions (2 medium)
- Shallot (1)
- Red bell peppers (3 medium)
- Yellow bell peppers (2 medium)
- Carrots (3 to 4 medium)
- Celery (6 to 7 stalks)
- Eggplant (1 1/2 pounds)
- Zucchini (3/4 pound)
- Sugar snap peas (8 ounces)
- Radishes (4 small)
- Heart of romaine (1 head)
- Cremini mushrooms (12 ounces)
- Tomato (1 large)
- Fresh basil (1 bunch)
- Flat-leaf parsley (1 bunch)
- Fresh thyme (3 large sprigs)
- Fresh dill (1 bunch)
- Bananas (3 to 4)
- Dried wild mushrooms (1 1/2 ounces)
- Extra-large eggs (3)
- Large eggs (1)
- Unsalted butter (6 ounces, or 1 1/2 sticks, plus 1 tablespoon)
- Whole, 2%, or skim milk (1/2 cup)
- Whole-milk ricotta (16 ounces)
- Garlic-and-herb goat cheese (8 ounces)
- Parmesan cheese (enough to make 1 cup grated)
- Fresh mozzarella (1 pound ball)
- Crème fraîche (4 ounces)
- Sour cream (1/4 cup)
- Whipping cream or heavy cream (1 cup)
- Lasagna noodles (10 ounces)
- Jars of marinara sauce (40 ounces total)
- Green olives (4 to 6 ounces, with pits)
- Pearled farro (3/4 cup)
- Vegetable broth (or beef broth, if not making vegetarian, 4 cups)
- Golden raisins (1/2 cup)
- Bittersweet chocolate (6 ounces)
- Sliced blanched almonds (3 tablespoons)
- Saffron threads (1 teaspoon crumbled)
- Bread crumbs (2/3 cup from a stale baguette)
- Cream sherry (1/2 cup)
- Marsala wine (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons)
If not making this vegetarian, add these ingredients:
- Pancetta (4 ounces)
- Oil-packed anchovy fillets (1 container, or 8 anchovies)
In your pantry — check to make sure you have these things:
- Olive oil (2 cups)
- Vegetable oil (2 tablespoons)
- White wine vinegar (1 tablespoon)
- Dijon mustard (1/2 tablespoon)
- Dried oregano (1 tablespoon)
- Ground cinnamon (1 1/2 teaspoons)
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- All-purpose flour (5 cups + 2 tablespoons)
- Granulated sugar (3/4 cup)
- Light brown sugar (3/4 cup packed)
- Vanilla extract (1 teaspoon)
- Baking powder (1 teaspoon)
- Baking soda (3/4 teaspoon)
- Active dry yeast (1 tablespoon)