Does traditional lasagna have ricotta?

Do you know the history of lasagna? Do you know what their secrets are in preparing this mythical cooking recipe? Discover all that is behind this family dish prepared with pasta and from traditional Italian cuisine. 

Does traditional lasagna have ricotta?

Nowadays, the traditional Italian lasagna doesn’t have ricotta, but an older Neapolitan version was originally made with ricotta cheese. 

The Bolognese recipe for lasagna (which most of us cook today) provided for the use of béchamel and minced meat. In its Neapolitan version these ingredients were replaced by ricotta, then combined with puff pastry (or egg pasta), meat sauce, meatballs, and mozzarella cheese. And it is precisely in this historical period that the tradition of the Bolognese lasagna clashes with the Neapolitan one. 

From the ancient Roman dish to today’s layered one, the two cities compete for the birthplace of this dish, whose recipes however have important differences, starting with the use of béchamel and ricotta. But each region actually has its own truth. 

The origin of lasagna dates back a long time, to around antiquity. Before being the typical dish of today based on Italian meat and cheeses such as gorgonzola and mozzarella, the Greek and Roman peoples used to cook what they then called “lagana“: a thin dough that they steamed, before making a terrine based on stuffing. 

The latter was prepared with the meat of your choices, such as chicken, pork, or fish, which they then took care to mix with eggs and, according to the recipes, other ingredients that differed from our time. Finally, the fish brine (called “garum”) covered everything before being cooked in a crust like a pate.

It was not until the Middle Ages that the term “lasagna” appeared, under the influence of the Arab people and their famous recipe: very thin pasta sheets filled with crushed almonds which therefore served as desserts, but which they subsequently prepared using cheeses such as Mozzarella. 

However, it was the Torta de lassanis, containing several layers separated by a stuffing, that really inspired the current recipes of lasagna so beloved by Italians, usually made with bolognese sauce.

Lasagna today

Simple lasagna recipes are mostly prepared with minced meat and cheeses, however, there are now many variations, such as vegetarian lasagna or spinach gorgonzola lasagna. Contrary to appearances, homemade lasagna is easy to cook: no need for tutorial videos.

Whatever the garnish of the recipes, they are made with dry or fresh pasta sheets, a tomato sauce, and a béchamel sauce, in a buttered or greased gratin dish with a little olive oil. olive that allows them to simmer in damp ground and cook perfectly without sticking. In the Easy Bolognese Lasagna recipe, you never pre cook the pasta – unless you opt for “open” lasagna, which has less sauce and therefore tends to harden in the last few minutes of cooking.

Small vegetables, if you include them, must be precooked over low heat. For bolognese lasagna, opt for good quality, fresh mince of beef, preferably unfrozen. It is also possible to vary the pleasure by opting for example for lamb, of which we will of course choose the best piece. The sauce must be thick enough, to do this you can use a binder.

If, however, it thickens too much, cut with a little milk – you can choose coconut milk or other according to your ideas, for a soft and original touch.

Serve with a salad, a drizzle of olive oil or walnuts depending on your taste, and a few basil leaves for a refined cuisine and a perfect presentation.

Assembling a lasagna step-by-step

Step one: Lightly butter your dish or use olive oil to prevent your preparation from sticking. As a first layer, spread a little béchamel or tomato sauce, this will prevent your pasta from sticking.

Step two: Then place the first even layer of lasagna noodles, making sure they are juxtaposed without overlapping. Mount the second layer with the tomato sauce (or bolognese if there is minced meat). Be generous with the sauce.

Then line the mold by alternating successively the layers of béchamel sauce, the lasagna and the bolognese. If you choose to add vegetables, alternate them with your other layers of ingredients. Continue this operation until all the ingredients are used up.

Our tip: Add a few cubes or slices of mozzarella between the different layers of sauce and the plates, for extra creaminess.

Last step: Finish the assembly with a layer of mozzarella sprinkled with Parmesan or any other type of Italian cheese. The top of your dish will be well au gratin and Italy will be there on your plate!

Conclusions

The bottom line is to never be afraid to adapt recipes to your own linking. In antiquity, they used to cook lasagna in a different way that we do today, but somehow I am sure it was still a great dish. Do not be afraid of experimenting, practice makes better!

Before you think about putting together your lasagna dish, you need to make sure that all the ingredients that will alternate in your lasagna are ready and of the best quality.

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section.

References

Simplyrecipes.com

wikipedia.com

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Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.

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