Usually, when I think of a “special night,” I think of times when I’m on my couch without pants on, watching The West Wing on Netflix and eating ratatouille in February. Or I recall parties where I make platters of nachos and get drunk off of cheap wine, and then hold my friends hostage while I sing my favorite songs from Kinky Boots.
But sometimes you need to make a night special: the kind of night that you buy nice produce for, that you light candles for, that you put pants on for. Because getting a little dressed up and eating ramps is a kind of escapism, just like eating zucchini in the winter; it’s deciding that this night, this Monday night, is going to be the best part of the week. It’s deciding to eat a Real Dinner instead of a Weird Dinner, and inviting a few good friends over to share it with you.
Let’s get fancy. Here’s the plan.
Radish Salad with Anchovy Sauce
Asparagus Braised with Fresh Rosemary and Bay Leaves
Rhubarb Buckle with Ginger Crumb
The night before: Make the anchovy sauce for your radish salad. Bake your rhubarb buckle. Once it’s cool, wrap it in plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature. When you’re home from work: Prep your asparagus. Cook your ramps and pancetta for your carbonara, and leave it in the pan, on the stove; you’ll heat it up when the pasta is cooking. When your guests start arriving: Get that asparagus braising, and dress your radish salad; it will hold for up to a half hour. Put a pot of salted water on to boil. When you’re almost ready for dinner: Start boiling your pasta, and heat up your pancetta and ramps. Bring everything else out to the table. When the pasta is ready, do all your tossing and carbonar-ing at the table. Watch your guests’ eyes light up with glee. When the carbonara is gone: Bring out the buckle, with some unsweetened whipped cream.