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Honoring Women’s History Month

From Our Kitchen

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March is Women’s History Month, which honors the accomplishments and contributions women have made in U.S. history. To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re showcasing a few prominent female chefs who’ve made a significant impact in the culinary world. (Canada recognizes Women’s History Month in October — read about notable female chefs from Canada here!)

Learn about the ways these women have helped shaped the culinary industry and check out a delicious recipe inspired by Cristeta Comerford, the first female executive chef in the White House. You may even see some dishes inspired by these illustrious women in your dining hall this month!

Alice Waters is a chef, activist, author, and restaurateur credited with kick-starting the farm-to-table movement in America.

Julia Child taught Americans the recipes and techniques of French cuisine on PBS. She authored several cookbooks, including the one that skyrocketed her to fame, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”

Italian American chef, restaurateur, author, and television host Lidia Bastianich is self-taught, having gained cooking experience in her and her husband’s successful restaurants. She’s everyone’s Italian grandmother, teaching home cooks the art of Italian cooking.

Giada De Laurentiis is a household name, thanks to her long-running television presence. Before starring on Food Network, the Italian American chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and worked as a caterer.

Leah Chase, the “Queen of Creole Cuisine,” was executive chef at the culturally and historically significant Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans. Dooky Chase’s allowed all races to dine together during segregation and hosted many civil rights movement planning meetings.

Ina Garten was a White House staffer before quitting her job and buying a specialty food shop after turning 30. She’s written cookbooks that stress simple food, made well, and has created recipes accessible for home cooks of all experience levels.

Joyce Chen helped familiarize and popularize Chinese food in America. She introduced buffets in her restaurant to encourage diners to sample new dishes and numbered her menus to make it easy for people to order in any language.

Carla Hall competed on “Top Chef” twice and hosted “The Chew,” a daytime food talk show. She’s also a bestselling cookbook author and restaurateur who combines her classical French training with her Southern roots to create incredible comfort food.

Leslie Durso has been instrumental in promoting a more sustainable lifestyle by encouraging people to eat a more plant-based diet. She’s focused on inclusivity and has worked with Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) to create dishes for menus around the world that don’t contain any of the top nine allergens.

Try out the recipe below and enjoy flavorful tastes inspired by Cristeta Comerford.

Turkey Lasagna with Spinach Serves 6


2 pounds fresh spinach 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 yellow onion, diced 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced 1 pound ground turkey 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste 1 teaspoon kosher salt; divided 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper; divided 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil 16 no-boil lasagna noodles 1 container (15 ounces) low-fat ricotta cheese ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese; divided 1 large egg 16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese


1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. To prepare ingredients: Dice yellow onion and mince fresh garlic. Rinse, pick leaves, and chop fresh parsley and basil. Rinse spinach, then place damp spinach in a large skillet over medium heat; cook until wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more, until fragrant. Add ground turkey and cook for about 10 minutes, mixing to break up pieces. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and season with half the salt and pepper; let simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir in basil and parsley; set aside.

4. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, half cup of Parmesan cheese, and egg. Season with remaining salt and pepper; set aside.

5. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, ladle a quarter of the turkey mixture; spread to cover. Arrange a sheet of lasagna noodles over the turkey; add a quarter of the mozzarella, a third of the ricotta mixture, a third of the spinach, and a quarter of the turkey. Repeat process two more times.

6. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese over top and place in oven. Bake until bubbly, about 25-30 minutes. Let stand about 5 minutes before cutting.

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