Lasagne (singular lasagna) are wide, flat-shaped pasta, and possibly one of the oldest types of pasta. The word “lasagne”, and, in many non-Italian languages, the singular “lasagna”, can also refer to a dish made with several layers of lasagne sheets alternated with sauces and various other ingredients.
Origins of Lasagne
Lasagne originated in Italy, traditionally ascribed to the city of Naples (Campania), where the first modern recipe was created in the Middle Ages and published in Liber de Coquina (The Book of Cookery), and became a traditional dish. Traditional lasagne is made by interleaving layers of pasta with layers of sauce, made with ragù, bechamel, Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped hard boiled eggs. In other regions and outside of Italy it is common to find lasagne made with ricotta or mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, various meats (e.g., minced beef, pork or chicken), miscellaneous vegetables (e.g., spinach, zucchini, mushrooms) and typically flavoured with wine, garlic, onion, and oregano. In all cases the lasagne are oven-baked.
Traditionally, pasta dough prepared in Southern Italy used semolina and water and in the northern regions, where semolina was not available, flour and eggs. Today in Italy, since the only type of wheat allowed for commercially sold pasta is durum wheat, commercial lasagne are made of semolina (from durum wheat).
Emilia-Romagna’s intensive farming economy in the northern region of Italy results in plentiful dairy and meat products, and their commonality in regional cooking – more so than the olive oil found in southern regions of Italy. Pastas from Emilia-Romagna and its capital, Bologna, are almost always served with a ragù, a thick sauce made from ingredients such as onions, carrots, finely minced pork and beef, celery, butter, and tomatoes.