Oscar Nominated Boyhood and Chef Art Smith

Chef Art Smith's delicious Zucchini Lasagna

Chef Art Smith’s delicious Zucchini Lasagna and served on Barbara Lazaroff’s beautiful Flame of Life china that benefits Meals on Wheels.

Favorite line in movie:  “You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment? I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us.”

Have you seen Boyhood, one of the 8 nominees for Best Motion Picture of the Year?  This wonderful movie was filmed in increments over 12 years and depicts the childhood and adolescence of a boy whose parents are divorced.   How fascinating that the same actors and actresses star in these roles through the timeline of the film.  It was also intriguing to observe the changes in and interactions with technology throughout the years, too. The kitchen table also plays an essential role throughout the movie.  As with most families, life happens over a meal.  Many ordinary moments and major milestones take place in the heart of the home.  A moment that seizes Patricia Arquette’s character is the shocking experience of her second husband’s drunken rage at the kitchen table as he throws dishes at her children and screams, “I hate squash!” Thankfully, she and her children leave this dangerous situation and pursue a life without domestic violence. That scene is the inspiration for the dish I am pairing with Boyhood, Chef Art Smith’s Zucchini Lasagna from his cookbook Art Smith’s Healthy Comfort. (Recipe Below). This layered dish features, sliced zucchini and yellow squash, ricotta in addition to a scrumptious fontina cheese sauce.  After sampling this dish, you will want to shout, “I love squash!” and lovingly share this meal with friends and family at your kitchen table. Follow me on twitter @mcsweeney and #VFSC.  I will be tweeting at Vanity Fair Social Club from February 16 – 22 with delicious tidbits to pass along. Meanwhile, please share your thoughts about food and films. Which movie do you think will win Best Picture?  Savor the day!


Chef Art Smith's Healthy Comfort http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=chef+art+smith+healthy+cooking

Chef Art Smith’s Healthy Comfort http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=chef+art+smith+healthy+cooking

Zucchini Lasagna                                               Serves 8

Lasagna made with zucchini is just as satisfying as lasagna made with meat and a whole lot better for you.  We put this on the menu at Joanne Trattoria, the New York restaurant opened by Joseph and Cynthia Germanotta in which I have an interest. Their famous daughter is Lady Gaga, who enjoys this rich, cheesy casserole as a special treat.

For the roux: 1 stick unsalted butter 1 cup all-purpose flour

For the cheese sauce: 1 quart of whole milk 1 pound fontina cheese, grated Salt

For the lasagna: 3 large zucchini 3 large yellow squash 3 cups ricotta cheese 3 large eggs, beaten ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese 2 teaspoons onion powder Salt and freshly ground black pepper 8 ounces dried lasagna pasta sheets (9 sheets), cooked

For the garnish: ½ cup chopped fresh basil

METHOD To prepare the roux: in a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour while cooking over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until it comes together.  Set aside and let cool.

To prepare the cheese sauce: In a large saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer and slowly add the roux while whisking.  Cook for 20 to 25 minutes over medium-low heat, whisking continually.  Add the grated cheese, about ½ pound at a time.  Continue to whisk until all the cheese is added.  Taste for desired salt.  

To prepare the lasagna: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F Slice the zucchini and yellow squash lengthwise into ¼ inch thick pieces. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, eggs, parsley, Parmesan, and onion and garlic powders.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. In a 9×13 inch lasagna pan, place 1 cup of the cheese sauce.  Lay 3 lasagna sheets over the sauce and spread ½ cup of the ricotta mixture over the zucchini.  Repeat until you have used all the ingredients, ending with 1 cup of the cheese sauce spread over the assembled lasagna.  You will have still more cheese sauce to serve alongside the lasagna. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until lasagna is bubbling and golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let sit for 20 minutes before cutting into 8 pieces.

ASSEMBLY  Warm the cheese sauce just prior to serving, and spoon some on each plate.  Place a piece of the lasagna over the sauce and sprinkle with the basil..

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