Every year, around the summer solstice and over Father’s Day weekend, we take a break from weeding, watering, harvesting and preserving to head to the Midwest Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Fair in Custer, Wis.—the largest in the world that draws tens of thousands of people from all over the country. As speakers at the MREA Fair, we’re invited to a special welcome dinner prepared by Rockman’s Catering, where we sit down under the big-top tent with the likes of kitchen gardeners, independent power producers, home canners and green builders
Rockman’s Catering has been fueling the MREA crowd since 1995. The menu often includes grilled chicken, pad thai, lasagna, fresh fruit salad and assorted desserts. The quality of the food reflects the attention Rockman’s takes in selecting the best local and sustainable ingredients available.
“There has been quite an increase in requests for locally sourced sustainable or organic products for the events we cater,” says owner Scott Rockman. “We try to accommodate the clients as best we can and have gotten to know several of the local farmers quite well over the past few years—we’ve even catered a couple of their weddings and personal parties.”
Scott has grown his business despite the economic downturn. Rockman’s Catering is respected for its ability to assist in designing just the right menu for each client as well as its attention to food quality and quantity, food temperature, timing, setup and staffing. This Midwest caterer has even had the opportunity to work with some of the best chefs in the nation.
“My most memorable is with Chef Paul Prudhomme,” Scott shares. “[He] and his entourage came to town to honor (and surprise) one of his managers, who was receiving an award from her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. They brought in their catering crew, and my crew got to work side-by-side with them for the party. Afterwards, Chef Paul invited us to come visit him in New Orleans anytime we’d like. About a year later, my family took a trip to New Orleans and spent an evening being treated like royalty at his restaurant, K-Paul’s. The next day, my son and I spent the afternoon working with Chef Paul in his test kitchen.”
One thing’s for sure, we’re looking forward to MREA dinner this year and can’t wait to see what’s on Rockman’s menu. Our favorite dish, of which we’ve been known to enjoy seconds, is Scott’s veggie lasagna. It’s perfect if you’re headed into late summer with a bumper crop of tomatoes and plenty of fresh basil and oregano. Hopefully, their lasagna will be included in the lineup this year!
Recipe: Veggie Lasagna from Rockman’s Catering
We’ve adapted Scott Rockman’s recipe slightly to feature fresh tomatoes, basil, onions and spinach for if you’re sitting on piles of produce like we are.
Yield: 6 to 10 servings (one standard lasagna pan)
- 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- 2 cups diced tomatoes, freshly chopped (do not drain)
- 1 T. dried basil or 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 T. garlic powder
- 2½ T. dried oregano dried or 1½ cups chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 T. salt
- 1½ pounds spinach, chopped (You can also use frozen; squeeze out any excess liquid.)
- 12 lasagna noodles (uncooked)
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1½ pounds mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 5 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded (about 2/3 cup)
In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté mushrooms and onions. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (with juice) and spices to vegetable mixture. Simmer for approximately 30 minutes.
After sauce simmers, add spinach. Remove sauce from heat and cool before assembling lasagna.
In a greased lasagna pan, layer four uncooked noodles, one-third of sauce, one-third of ricotta, one-third of Parmesan and top with a little less than one-third of mozzarella. Press down lightly to keep layers even. Repeat layers twice, finishing top layer with mozzarella. (More mozzarella is needed for very top layer).
Wipe edges of the pan, and cover loosely with foil. At this point, bake immediately or refrigerate overnight. If refrigerated, bring to room temperature before baking.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake, covered, for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, until cooked throughout. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 to 12 minutes, until cheese browns lightly. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Savoring the good life,