Good morning. It’s Presidents’ Day and many of you, I hope, are free of work obligations and looking to cook one of those dishes that only three-day weekends seem to make possible. Like, for instance, Regina Schrambling’s amazing recipe for lasagna (above).
“If there were central casting for casseroles,” Regina wrote nearly 20 years ago, “this one deserved the leading role. But its beauty was more than cheese deep. This was the best lasagna I had ever eaten. The sauce was intensely flavored, the cheeses melted into creaminess as if they were béchamel, the meat was just chunky enough, and the noodles put up no resistance to the fork. Most important, the balance of pasta and sauce was positively Italian. At last I could understand why my neighbor Geoff had told me, as I dragged home more bags in our elevator, that all-day lasagna is the only kind worth making.”
Get on that today, if you can. If you can’t, though, NYT Cooking can still be of service. Sarah DiGregorio’s recipe for a slow-cooker chicken with 20 cloves of garlic can burble away in your machine or on the stovetop for hours while you attend to other matters. You could make Alison Roman’s recipe for a quick lamb ragù, and be done in 45 minutes(ish). Crisp gnocchi with brussels sprouts and brown butter, from Ali Slagle? You’ll be done in less than a half-hour if you use store-bought gnocchi.
Let’s say you do have the time, but lasagna’s not your vibe. Try Colu Henry’s curried red lentil soup with toasted coconut on for size, and think about making my bananas Foster for dessert, just because. Or a lemon-ginger tart, from the indomitable Alison Roman. Or a batch of Yotam Ottolenghi’s oat and tahini cookies. Or Dorie Greenspan’s galette des rois! (What a crew we have!)
Finally, some bookkeeping. It is the 48th day of the year 2020, and I think maybe you ought to look back at the Feb. 17 issue of Life magazine on the 48th day of the year 1941, if only to see how much and how little the world has changed over the course of the past 79 years. Henry Luce, in that issue: “We Americans are unhappy. We are not happy about America. We are not happy about ourselves in relation to America. We are nervous — or gloomy — or apathetic.” Is that true now, or not? Depends on where you stand. The whole magazine is kind of amazing. Browse it and I’ll be back on Wednesday.