Thursday, July 28, 2011

"National Lasagna Day"

An entire day dedicated to “Lasagna,” who knew!

National Lasagna Day is celebrated in the United States on July 29. Originally from the Emilia Romagna region which is the center of northern Italy and includes a tradition of fresh rich foods. Each region in Italy has their own way of creating Lasagna. In the southern regions the sauce is likely to be a simple Tomato or Ragu, where in other areas like the northern part of Italy a Béchamel sauce (white and creamy) is used. In Italy and the United States the fillings may vary as well. You can create a vegetarian filling such as spinach or eggplant, onions and garlic, tasty tuna or seafood, sausages and a wide selection of sharp cheeses. Lasagna has become a familiar dish in many other places of the world, from Europe to America. Who doesn’t love Italian food? Through the years Italian mothers and grandmothers have prepared and created many fabulous recipes for their families.
Great-Grandfather Giovanni
Great-Grandmother Sofia
Plus 2 of her 8 children 
The origins of Lasagna dates back to the 1st century B.C. where a common meal consisting of fine sheets of fried dough were called “lagana.” In the 2nd century a Greek scholar provided a recipe for lagana that was made with sheets of wheat flour and the juice of crushed lettuce, then flavored with spices and deep fried in oil. An early 5th century cookbook describes a dish of lagana that consisted of layers of dough with meat stuffing which sounds like our modern day Lasagna. When Italians immigrated to the United States they brought with them many cooking recipes and traditions. Lasagna is made with either rippled or flat noodles. Rippled noodles are common in southern Italy but rarely used in northern Italy. Rippled noodles are most popular in the United States.

Lasagna is made by towering layers of lasagna noodles packed with a creamy filling and made with a homemade meat sauce. The combination of spices, ricotta, mozzarella and Pecorino Romano grated chesses, are what I would call the most perfect Italian dish. It consists of your whole meal in one Lasagna pan. From your preparation, to taking it out of the oven and seeing it bubble with cheese on the top, plus the aroma floating around your kitchen is simply heavenly. Throughout the years, Lasagna still and always will be a favorite among my family and guests around my kitchen table.

My recommendation for pairing wine with Lasagna is Red Zinfandel. The color of a Zinfandel wine is deep red, bordering on black. Zinfandel is a spicy, peppery wine, with a hint of fruity flavors that include berries or dark cherries. The rule of wines is that you want to drink from light to dark. Therefore, Champagne tends to go very well with appetizers. White wine is usually a match for salads and lighter dishes, while red wine works perfectly with steaks and heavier meat sauces. Port wine is often the perfect end to a meal, especially with a chocolate dessert.
To celebrate National Lasagna Day, I want to share my mother’s recipe with all of you. I hope that you enjoy your Lasagna and make it a tradition at your family table. 

Mama’s Lasagna


1 lb Lasagna noodles
16 oz Ricotta cheese
1 lb of Mozzarella cheese (sliced or cubed)
3 / 4 cup Grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 Egg
Black pepper to taste
Salt to taste
Favorite Tomato Sauce with meat or without


Boil water with a little salt and a little drizzled oil in a large pot. (the oil helps the Lasagna noodles not to stick) Add your Lasagna noodles to the water and let it cook for about 7 minutes. Drain the water and rinse the noodles with cold water so they do not stick, while you are preparing the filling. You want the noodles to be a little firm as you will be cooking them again in the oven.

Mix together in a large bowl, ricotta cheese, egg, mozzarella, salt and pepper. Preheat your oven to 375° F Take a 9x13 inch baking dish and spoon some tomato sauce on bottom of baking dish so the lasagna will not stick. Now layer your ingredients starting with the noodles. Next, assemble a layer of the ricotta cheese mixture over your noodles. Now, spread some tomato sauce over the cheese. Duplicate this process with all the layers and finish off with some mozzarella and a small amount of grated cheese.

Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour until the top is slightly browned and the cheese is bubbling. Let the Lasagna rest for 15 minutes so it is easier to serve. Garlic bread and a wonderful Italian green salad is a delightful addition to this dish.

You can also add cooked chopped meat to the tomato sauce or even sliced or ground sausage without the casing. You can also use the no boil Lasagna noodles.
Till Next Time…..

Copyright 2011 © All Rights Reserved

No comments:

Post a Comment