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Lasagna From A to Z: 26 Interesting Things to Know

Lasagna From A to Z: 26 Interesting Things to Know

From Apicius to Zegna brothers, facts and figures about the classic lasagna recipe: a dish so famous to become an icon of the Italian taste in the world.

By FDL on

Apicius. Lasagna go back a long way: they were already mentioned in Ancient Rome by Marco Gavio Apicio (25 b. C.-37 a. C.) in his famous recipe book De re coquinaria (Culinary Art).

Béchamel. Not all recipes include béchamel, but lasagna stands generally for a timbale made of fresh pasta layered with béchamel, a filling (usually Bolognese sauce) and Parmesan cheese.

Carnival. The Carnival lasagna is a very rich Neapolitan dish served on Fat Thursday. You can fill them with meatballs, sausages, ricotta cheese, mozzarella, and eggs.

Durum – Soft (o Common). It’s different from Italian pasta that has to be made with durum wheat; it’s made with soft wheat – eggs and olive oil.

Emilia Romagna. Lasagna is cooked in all of Italy, the country of lasagna. However, the region of Emilia Romagna stands out for its excellent lasagna Bolognese.

Fish. The fish they use to make the “poor” version is San Pietro fish, sole or brill.

Green. Green lasagna is another popular version of the lasagna made with spinach. The traditional lasagna Bolognese alternates white layers (or rather yellow) with green ones.

Hairy Bikers. The popular British gourmet duo bikers Simon King and Dave Myers embarked on a weight-loss campaign as the ‘Hairy Dieters’. One of their last ideas was the ‘Skinny Beef Lasagna’ layered with blanched leeks.

Italian-Americans. For Italian-Americans lasagna is a big reference to tradition. The most common one is ‘baked ziti’, tube-shaped pasta dressed with tomatoes, cheese and different ingredients such as meat, onions and peppers.

Jim Davis. The creator of Garfield, the cat that loved lasagna. Davis was also a big lasagna eater!

King Ranch Chicken. These are the Texan Lasagna, a tex-mex dish with tortillas, sauce, and grated cheese. There are different recipes for the sauce, but it’s usually canned tomatoes with green chili, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup and chicken.

Layers. The number of layers varies, but the perfect number is five.

Mamma. Lasagna is an iconic family dish, traditional family recipes are handed down from one generation to another, and only your “mamma” knows how to make perfect lasagna. This is true also outside of Italy.

Navy. Lasagna was a great ration food in the navy: the Republic of Genoa already used it on ships in the 12th century.

Oven-baked. When we say lasagna we actually mean baked lasagna. You have to boil the dough and then bake it; the sauce can be added later on the plate.

Pesto. The Genovese sauce made with basil is very common in lasagna with layers of béchamel in between.

Quick. There are no-boil versions you can buy, but they don’t guarantee great quality.

Ragù. It’s the meat sauce that together with béchamel and Parmesan cheese is the key ingredient of lasagna Bolognese. The sauce must be bright red, half beef and half pork meat.

Square. Lasagna can have a square shape, but the most common one is rectangular. Same dough, different shapes. Something that gives origin to different fresh regional pasta types, such as the “pappardelle” in Tuscany.

Truffle. It’s the main ingredient of luxury lasagna: it’s called the “all’albese”, béchamel, cheese and lots of white truffle. Sometimes you can add a light white meat sauce or mushrooms.

Unique cookbook. It’s the only book in the world that you can eat, read, and cook (as we've written about here). It’s made with classic lasagna, dough-pages with recipes that will end up in a pan. It’s published by a German publishing house.

Vincisgrassi. It’s the name of lasagna in the Marche region – it probably comes from the name of an Austrian general – layered with offal, béchamel and grated cheese.

Weird Al Yankovic. Lasagna is the parody cover of the famous La bamba by Los Lobos, written by comedian “Weird Al” Yankovic. A satire on Italians and Italian food.

X versions. The most famous lasagna is the Bolognese kind, but the dish in itself is very versatile. There are infinite possible versions: béchamel base, and then you add the ingredients as you wish.

Yogurt. To make a lighter béchamel you can use yogurt. Or a creamy ricotta.

Zurla. The Zurla brothers owned and ran the historic ‘Pappagallo’ restaurant in Bologna. Their specialty was the ‘Lasagne goccia d’oro’ made with sautéed mushrooms.

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