We had 3 different nationalities sitting around our Xmas table this year. And I wanted all three countries represented also in the food. I have showed you Portuguese dishes, Maltese dishes and now I’m adding another dish from the other country: Italian lasagna… made by my boyfriend! Yes, you know he cooks, so he wanted to give his contribute to the festive meals. And my family always wants a touch of Italian food when he goes to visit 🙂
As we may all know, lasagna originated in Italy, more precisely in Naples, all the way back in the Middle Ages, and straight away became a traditional dish. Traditional lasagna is made by interleaving layers of pasta with layers of sauce, made with ragu (meat and tomato sauce), bechamel sauce, Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped hard boiled eggs. In other regions and outside of Italy it is common to find many variations of lasagna. Several other ingredients are used such as ricotta, mozzarella, tomato sauce, various meats, spinach, zucchini, mushrooms and flavored with wine, garlic, onion and oregano. The common factor in all these recipes is the pasta sheets and that it’s oven baked.
Traditionally, in the South of Italy, the pasta dough was made with semolina while in the North they used flour and eggs. Nowadays, lasagna sheets are made of Semolina due to commercials regulations. The growth of the farming economy in places like Bologna, allowed the use of more dairy and meat products in the Italian cuisine. Consequently, lasagna in Emilia-Romagna is made with meat and tomato ragu which became one of the most common variations of the dish.
We tried to follow the most traditional recipe. But sometimes, my boyfriend also uses mozzarella in the layers or he adds other ingredients in the ragu such as mushrooms. But I think that a dish should always have different variations according to the person cooking or to the people eating the food. In any case, this Italian lasagna made in Portugal by a Maltese boy was a great success!!!