“Lasagna: the world’s most perfect food!”
‘Garfield’ by Jim Davis
Jim Davis knew what he was talking about: Lasagna is one of America’s favorite comfort foods. It is known as a layered casserole of noodle, cheese and meat sauce, which also makes it pretty healthy with a combination of dairy, vegetables and protein. July 29 is National Lasagna Day, so let’s celebrate this versatile dish with a brief history lesson.
History of Lasagna
Lasagna is served in Italian restaurants, and so the public assumption is that it originated in Italy. In truth, the term “lasagna” came from the Greeks. It was named for the dish it was baked in, and not the specific ingredients inside (though it contained noodles and sauce). When the dish made it to Italy, the food stole the name of the dish for its own. The British were the first to publish a lasagna recipe. So is it Greek, Italian or British?
No matter where it originated from, lasagna’s layers are the perfect vehicle for a variety of ingredients. American lasagna noodles are rippled to hold sauces while chefs in Northern Italy use egg pasta without ripples to achieve the same result. Lasagne verde includes spinach, vegetarian lasagna uses zucchini instead of pasta, and recently non-Italian variations have become popular (such as spicy Mexican Lasagna and Greek Lasagna with feta cheese).
Best Local Lasagna
It’s no surprise that Fort Wayne’s favorite lasagnas can be found at Casa and Biaggi’s. Biaggi’s offers a decadent Lasagne Bolognese, while Casa restaurants serve a traditional Lasagne, Lasagne Carne Amante with sausage, pepperoni, prosciutto and meatballs, and Spinach Lasagna. Take advantage of the holiday and go Lasagna-tasting to discover which is your favorite.
The second best thing about lasagna (after its deliciousness) is how well it freezes. That means it is the perfect gift for new parents or grieving friends. If you want them to have the best meal possible, follow these suggestions:
- Cover noodles completely with sauce, but do not cook them before assembling the lasagna.
- Do not bake the dish before gifting it, and the noodles will be their best when consumed.
- Use any container and covering except aluminum, as aluminum has a metallic taste that will absorb into the food.
- Lasagna can last up to eight months in the freezer!
Best Lasagna Recipe
(according to this writer)
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound Italian sausage (Casings removed)
- 1 onion, chopped 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 2 6 oz can tomato paste
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 12 lasagna noodles
- 16 oz whipped cream cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 slices provolone
- 1 cup Mozzarella – shredded
- 3/4 cup parmesan
- On the stovetop cook sausage, beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until browned. Stir in tomatoes, sauce, paste and water. Season with garlic powder, Italian seasoning, sugar, dried basil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Simmer.
- In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese, egg and salt.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- To assemble, spread 2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9 by 13 pan. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread one half of the cream cheese mixture. Top with provolone slices. Spoon 1 ½ cups meat sauce over mozzarella and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, covering the noodles completely, and top with remaining cheese. Cover loosely with foil.
- Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 25 minutes.