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My big fat lasagna

BY MARIALISA CALTA Published: June 11, 2012

It's family reunion season, potluck season, feed-the-softball-league season -- in other words, time to learn how to feed a crowd. You can be a short-order cook and stand at the grill flipping burgers and dogs to the hungry hordes.

Or you can make a single dish that is big enough, substantial enough and delicious enough to feed an army.

I've never been good at the cooking-in-large-quantities thing, so I was thrilled when my friend Louie said he would show me how to make his famous lasagna.

This dish feeds 12 to 15 easily. It is so chock-full of veggies and cheeses that it is truly a one-pot meal. It can be assembled a day ahead, covered and refrigerated, and baked the next day.

And, lo and behold, it is way easier to make than I ever would have imagined. The only "fussy" part, really, was roasting the red bell peppers. Buying jars of roasted red bell peppers saves a lot of time. (The peppers sold as "fire-roasted" have a nice, smoky flavor.)

I normally try to be extremely precise when writing recipes, but Louie's lasagna is, by necessity, a departure. The ingredients list is specific; it's the "method" that's a bit fluid.

Louie says you can layer the ingredients any way you want, starting with a thin layer of sauce and ending with a thick layer of cheese. He assembles this dish differently every time he makes it, and it is always delicious. (One time, he says, he forgot the marinara sauce, but it was still tasty.) The lasagna is even more toothsome the second or third day.

Before you start, find a large, deep baking pan; we used a 15-by-10-inch roasting pan that was 5 inches deep. You can assemble this a day ahead of time and refrigerate it, covered, up to 24 hours; bring to room temperature before baking.

Louie calls his dish "2310 Lasagna" after the street number of his childhood home in Baltimore. I call it "legendary."


Yield: 12 to 15 servings

2 pounds freshly grated whole-milk mozzarella (8 cups)

1 pound freshly grated fontina cheese (4 cups)

2 pounds roasted, jarred red peppers, or 8 to 10 fresh red bell peppers, roasted and blackened skins and seeds removed

2 pounds marinated artichoke hearts, drained

48 ounces marinara sauce, store-bought or homemade (6 cups)

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