How To: Easy Crowd Pleaser Meals That are Ready in a Snap

Nothing is better than gathering together with the people who make our lives rich and meaningful. 

In the end, we’ll find that the friends and family who’ve made up the fabric of our lives were more precious than money or any worldly success.

As Clarence the Angel says to George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, “Remember-No man is a failure who has friends.”

Yes, friends are wonderful. But what do you feed them all?

When I need to fill up a lot of people fast, I find pasta is always a popular choice or my rustic chicken recipe.

My go-to is to put out a platter loaded with mounds of grapes and any other fresh fruit I can find that looks particularly delectable, an array of interesting cheeses, and then I serve a large pasta bake that can be assembled ahead of time. 

The bake I used to rely on was inspired by Saveur magazine. It called for ground veal, but I substituted ground chicken because, well, baby cows. 

Photo by Tina Rupp

However, this recipe based on  Food and Wine Magazine is made for the host in a hurry. It uses pre-made flatbread instead of noodles, so you can assemble the meal quickly and get it into the oven.

Flatbread Lasagna

Ingredients

  • 1 pound hot spicy chicken sausage, casings removed 
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups jarred marinara sauce (Ina Garten uses Rao’s in her home)
  • 4 pocketless pita or naan (why not pick them up from your favorite Indian restaurant to make the dish truly divine?)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella (12 ounces)

Directions

  • Step 1
    Preheat the oven to 350°. In a skillet, cook the sausages in the oil over moderately high heat, breaking up the meat, until browned. Season the ricotta with salt and pepper. Spread 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce in a deep-dish pie plate. Top with 1 flatbread, one-third of the sausage and 1/2 cup each of the ricotta and mozzarella. Repeat the layering twice more. Add 1/2 cup of sauce and the last flatbread. Top with the remaining 1 cup of sauce and 1/2 cup of mozzarella.
  • Step 2
    Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 30 minutes longer. Let cool for 20 minutes and serve. Serves 6-8. Make two when you have a huge crowd. More is always better.

Suggested Pairing

Chianti.

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