Level of Difficulty: 2/5
1 lb Ground Beef
1 lb Ground Pork
2 tsp dried Basil
2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds
1/2 tsp crushed Red Pepper Flakes
6 cups Marinara Sauce or your favourite Pasta Sauce
Fresh Parsley, for garnish
1 box Lasagne Noodles
16 oz Ricotta Cheese
1/2 lb Provolone Cheese
1/2 lb Mozzarella Cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Lasagne (US: /ləˈzɑːnjə/, also UK: /ləˈzænjə/, Italian: [laˈzaɲɲe]; singular lasagna, Italian: [laˈzaɲɲa]) are a type of pasta, possibly one of the oldest types, made of very wide, flat sheets. Either term can also refer to an Italian dish made of stacked layers of lasagne alternating with fillings such as ragù (ground meats and tomato sauce), vegetables, cheeses (which may include ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan), and seasonings and spices, like Italian seasoning, such as garlic, oregano and basil. The dish may be topped with grated cheese, which becomes melted after baking. Typically cooked pasta is assembled with the other ingredients and then baked in an oven. The resulting casserole is cut into single-serving square portions.
Origins and history
Lasagne originated in Italy during the Middle Ages. The oldest transcribed text about lasagne appears in 1282 in the Memoriali Bolognesi (“Bolognesi Memorials”), in which lasagne was mentioned in a poem transcribed by a Bolognese notary; while the first recorded recipe was set down in the early 14th-century Liber de Coquina (The Book of Cookery). It bore only a slight resemblance to the later traditional form of lasagne, featuring a fermented dough flattened into thin sheets (lasagne), boiled, sprinkled with cheese and spices, and then eaten with a small pointed stick. Recipes written in the century following the Liber de Coquina recommended boiling the pasta in chicken broth and dressing it with cheese and chicken fat. In a recipe adapted for the Lenten fast, walnuts were recommended.
The lasagne of Naples, lasagne di carnevale, are layered with local sausage, small fried meatballs, hard-boiled eggs, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses and sauced with a Neapolitan ragù, a meat sauce.
Lasagne al forno, layered with a thicker ragù and Béchamel sauce and corresponding to the most common version of the dish outside Italy, are traditionally associated with the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Here, and especially in its capital, Bologna, layers of lasagne are traditionally green (the color is obtained by mixing spinach or other vegetables into the dough) and served with ragù (a thick sauce made from onions, carrots, celery, finely ground pork and beef, butter, and tomatoes), bechamel and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
In other regions lasagne can be made with various combinations of ricotta or mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, meats (e.g. ground beef, pork or chicken), and vegetables (e.g. spinach, zucchini, olives, mushrooms), and the dish is typically flavoured with wine, garlic, onion, and oregano. In all cases, the lasagne are baked (al forno).
Traditionally pasta dough prepared in Southern Italy used semolina and water; in the northern regions, where semolina was not available, flour and eggs were used. In modern Italy, since the only type of wheat allowed for commercially sold pasta is durum wheat, industrial lasagne are made of semolina from durum wheat. Nonetheless in the north and especially in Emilia-Romagna, the tradition of egg-based dough remains popular for artisanal and home-made productions.