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Après-Ski Lasagna

As we soar into Salt Lake City, Utah, my boyfriend Tom is looking through one of the plane’s tiny oval windows toward the snow-capped mountains, noting weather conditions in anticipation of a weekend shredding powder. Meanwhile, I’m checking for a Wi-Fi signal so I can find a grocery store where I can shop for our après-ski meals. Early spring ski trips with friends are kind of a thing for Tom and me. Tom and said friends are accomplished skiers. I am not. My strength in the group is serving as chef for the weekend. So before I strap into ski boots and ascend the mountain, I’m thinking about the details of the feast to follow. Last winter, in a cabin outside of Park City, Utah, I made an old-school lasagna that was such a hit everyone emailed me after the trip demanding the recipe. You’ll find no handmade pasta or béchamel sauce in this lasagna. When cooking in a remote locale, I take pleasure in such conveniences as a box of noodles and a can of tomatoes. And instead of that classic combination of ground beef, pork, and veal, I find that Italian sausage flavored with fennel seeds and other Italian seasonings makes up for the fact that I’m simply not going to buy several jars of dried herbs of unknown freshness at peak prices while on holiday. But fresh basil brings brightness, sliced mushrooms lend earthiness and toothsome texture, and ricotta delivers the creaminess between the layers. Since you’re eating Italian food in an alpine setting, what better wine to pair with this casual lasagna than an Alpine Italian red. These rustic wines typically have lively acidity and a medium body to play well with the richness of the dish. So check a bottle of Nebbiolo from Valle d’Aosta or Nerello Mascalese from Mount Etna. When cooking for famished friends in a kitchen of modest means, the key is to make hearty food that satisfies a crowd and can either be made ahead or pulled together quickly after a long day on the slopes. Build the lasagna the night before so all it needs is an hour or so in the oven while your crew showers up. (This is a great strategy not only for ski vacations, but for busy weeknights, too.) Then you’ll have a comforting meal that’s eaten in long johns and Wigwams, with full wine glasses, in front of a crackling fire.
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