We’re living in the golden age of baked pastas.
I’m not usually one for making predictions, because one day, you might go out on a limb and say something crazy like, “2018 will be the year of lasagna,” and then, the next thing you know, you’re living in a full-blown new era of lasagna. You’re living in an age when Samin Nosrat leads the country in a giant and spectacular virtual lasagna party, Drew Barrymore lauds lasagna’s healing powers, and you can buy commemorative T-shirts that say: “Live. Laugh. Love. Lasagna.”
To be fair, a lot has changed in the world since I made that prediction almost three years ago. For one, I wrote a book about lasagna with my fellow editors at TASTE. Then, a pandemic happened, which left us all reaching for the reassurance of a familiar dish that could all at once be divvied up, frozen for later, and delivered to friends who need it. For Nicky Bandera, who works in the spirits industry in Boston, making lasagna was a way to efficiently feed out-of-work friends in the hospitality industry. For one young, aspiring cook, it was a way to learn the art of menu planning by sketching out a plan for a week’s worth of lasagnas to try.
Over the course of the past several months, I’ve given and received my own fair share of lasagna, but I still feel like I’m just getting started. I still need to try Andrea Nguyen’s mapo tofu lasagna and Meredith Erickson’s artful woven lasagna in a bed of silky green spinach sauce. And how could I pass up Ma Vicky’s famous lasagna from Hawa Hassan and Julia Turshen’s In Bibi’s Kitchen, boosted with a rich and savory blend of bouillon and adobo seasoning?
After recently landing a great (albeit slightly chipped) vintage Dansk lasagna pan on eBay, I’m ready for a whole lot of staying home this winter, even if that means skipping the usual boisterous family holiday gatherings and temporarily turning my apartment into a red-sauce restaurant. At my fictional lasagna establishment, the martinis are cheap, the garlic bread is plentiful, and there’s always room for butterscotch budino. —Anna Hezel