Friday, October 2, 2009

The History of Lasagna

By Mike Smith

I absolutely love lasagna! Especially, lasagna that was made with awesome fresh ingredients. You know the kind I'm talking about, from a fancy Italian restaurant where they make 1 serving of lasagna at a time. Great cheese, great meat, great sauce and it all leads to a great lasagna.

The dish is believed to have originated in Italy. However, the term "lasagna" comes from the Greeks. The Italians used the word to refer to the dish in which lasagna is made. It wasn't long before the name of the food took on the name of the serving dish.

So, obviously lasagna originates from Greece, right? Wrong...kinda. The first lasagna recipe was featured in the first cookbook ever written in England. So, some believe that lasagna originated in England.

With lasagna, it's all about the cheese...some lasagna recipes have multiple cheeses, most often ricotta and mozzarella. Traditional mozzarella is made in southern Italy, so the use of these two cheeses is typical of lasagna made in Naples or further south.

One of my favorite types of lasagna is lasagna alla Bolognese, which uses parmigiano reggiano, bolognese sauce and nutmeg flavored sauce. I love nutmeg in my lasagna. Not many know that nutmeg is used in some versions of lasagna, but nutmeg adds a nice touch to any lasagna. Another version of lasagna is classic bologna, which is made with lasagna verdi, which includes spinach. Obviously, the green comes from the spinach.

Outside of Italy, there are many different types of lasagna...especially in the United States. From spinach lasagna to vegetable lasagna and spicy chipotle lasagna and everything in between. You'll find different lasagnas all over the United States.

In the United States, rippled sheets of pasta are common, but not in Northern Italy. In Northern Italy, rippled pasta sheets are typically made of durum or hard wheat which repels sauces " the ripples are designed to hold the sauce better. Emilia-Romagna egg pasta, which is made with soft wheat and drinks up the lasagna sauce and does not need the help of rippling.

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