In the 13th century, a cookbook was published in England called The Forme of Cury. Thought to be the oldest cookbook in the world, it contains recipes for such dishes as Pygg in Sawge (Pig in Sage), Cruftard of Flefsh (Pigeon Pie), and Lofeyns, which appears to be the first written recipe for lasagna. The recipe calls for “thynne foyles as pap,” or leaves of paste as thin as paper—in other words, lasagna noodles. It is unclear how this classic Italian recipe ended up in a British cookbook, but one thing is certain: People have been enjoying lasagna for hundreds of years.
Lasagna, which is also known as lasagne, is both the name of the dish and the name of the pasta. In northern Italy, this casserole of alternating layers of sauce, cheese, and pasta is made with fresh noodles. In the south, the dish is made with dry noodles, often with ridges. The result is that the northern lasagnas tend to be more delicate and the southern lasagnas heavier—the fresh pasta absorbs the sauce, while the dry, ridged pasta holds the sauce and keeps the layers of the dish well defined. These days, lasagna variations have expanded past the north-south distinctions and now include nearly any layered food within a casserole. Lucky for us.
Here are five recipes for lasagna, from the basic to modern:
Classic Baked Lasagne by Wanda and Giovanna Tornabene Classic and rich, this lasagna tips its hat to the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, the reputed birthplace of the dish.
Italian-American Lasagna by Lidia Bastianich A dense meat sauce makes this lasagna the poster child for hearty lasagnas.
Grilled Vegetable Lasagna with Emerald Green Pesto by Myra Goodman This veggie version of lasagna is stuffed with a farm stand's worth of grilled vegetables.
Mushroom and Artichoke Lasagna by Judith Finlayson A Provençal twist on lasagna, this vegetarian casserole is flavored with artichoke hearts, garlic, and mushrooms—and can be made in the slow cooker.
Spicy Eggplant Lasagne by Darina Allen and Rosemary Kearney For those eating gluten-free, lasagna might be one of the most-missed foods. Luckily, this recipe features a gluten-free béchamel sauce, a rich layer of eggplant, and gluten-free lasagna noodles.
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