A Make-Ahead Vegetarian Dinner Party from Ina Garten
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)