It must be a jumbo pizza, with a super thin crust and multiple toppings, that comes to your mind when thinking of the Italian cuisine. However, not many know that it is the delectable lasagna that truly represents the great cultural heritage and traditions of Italy.
The classic lasagna has layers of meat, unique sauces, and vegetables stacked between flat pasta sheets. Melted cheese and other aromatics, too, are added to make the lasagna extra delicious. This well structured dish is visually appealing as it often makes the centre piece in Italian family unions and other functions.
It is believed that the lasagna has its origins in Naples. A recipe dating back to the 14th century is the oldest available recipe of lasagna.
Flat pasta sheets in triangular shapes are used to prepare the layers in lasagna. In the olden times, wheat and eggs were the main ingredients to prepare these thin pasta sheets. In many Italian provinces, broken wheat, which is mostly used to prepare the pasta were not easily available then. However, it is assumed that lasagna was made even before that in Italian homes using dough made by mixing flour with water. Eggs and cheese must be later additions.
The lasagna that is commonly seen now has undergone many transformations down the centuries. The classic lasagna is known in Italy as 'lasagna ala Bolognese.' From the 20th century onwards, people in the Bologna province began using a special variety of spinach that is grown here, in the lasagna. This made the lasagna that is cooked in Bologna extremely popular. Even though many varieties of lasagna were experimented in Bologna itself, it is the traditional spinach lasagna that earned the title of the 'classic dish' by the Italian Kitchen Academy.