Lasagna is a classic Italian staple, right? Maybe not. The origins of lasagna are actually traced back to ancient Greece. Around 200 BC, the Romans conquered the Greek empire and quickly adopted Greece’s philosophy, religious, and educational practices, as well as its food and language. One of the foods the Italians may have adopted was a lasagna-like dish.
The word lasagna comes from the Greek word “laganon” which referred to a flat sheet of dough that had been cut into strips. A similar Greek work, “lasanon” referred to an ancient slow-cooker. The Romans changed this word slightly to “lasanum” which was also a type of cooking pot. It is most commonly believed that today’s word “lasagna” refers to the pot the dish was once cooked in.
This was the most-believed account for the creation of lasagna. However, others believe that the modern variation of lasagna can be tied to a 14th century English recipe called “loseyn”. This dish was comprised of ingredients layered between pasta sheets as well. However, tomatoes were not introduced to England until after Christopher Columbus discovered America, so the classic lasagna recipe with tomato sauce was not created until 1652.
The first modern recipe for the lasagna we are accustomed to today as created in Naples in the Middle Ages and was published in Liber de Coquina (i.e., The Book of Cookery). This is when it truly became an Italian staple and tradition. Today, variations of lasagna can be found all over the world. This recipe is comprised of a meat and tomato sauce and multiple cheeses. It is quite traditional, and it’s incredibly tasty!
1 pound ground beef
1 pound Italian pork sausage
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes with juice
2 cans (6 ounces each) tomato paste
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (or a combination of basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1 15 ounce container ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan
9 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
6 slices provolone cheese
3 cups (12 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
Brown the meat until cooked through. Drain and set aside.
To make the sauce, add olive oil to a sauce pan, add 3 cloves garlic. Brown the garlic and remove once fragrant (approximately 2 minutes). Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, red pepper flakes, Italian season (or basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme), salt, pepper, and browned meat to the pot. Bring to a boil then simmer, uncovered, for one hour, stirring occasionally.
In a large bowl, combine parsley, ricotta, and parmesan cheese.
To build the lasagna, spread 1 cup of the meat sauce in a baking dish. Layer with 3 noodles then provolone cheese, ricotta mixture, and mozzarella. Add 3 more noodles followed by more meat sauce, the ricotta mixture, and mozzarella. Top with last 3 lasagna noodles, more meat sauce, and mozzarella.
Cook the lasagna at 375 Fahrenheit for 50 minutes, covered. Uncover and bake 20 minutes longer or until heated through. Allow to sit for 15 minute before slicing and serving.