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The Origins of Lasagna
Where did lasagna come from? Who created the first lasagna dish? First, let it be known that lasagna is one of the oldest Italian dishes, at least in the top five. Lasagna is the Italian word for a wide, flat-shaped pasta.
The first-ever recorded lasagna recipe comes from the Middle Ages. Lasagna is thought to come from the city of Naples, in the southern Italian region of Campania. The recipe was first recorded in the Liber de Coquina (aka The Book of Cookery). This book was written in the 14th century and is one of the oldest medieval cookbooks that's actually held together by stitching. Two manuscripts are known to exist, and they are perfectly preserved and well taken care of at the Bibliothèque Nationale in the beautiful city of Paris, France.
The original recipe calls for making the lasagna noodles from scratch. However, it's not so much of a noodle—it's more like a sheet. One huge lasagna sheet that fits perfectly in a casserole dish is exactly what the original lasagna recipe calls for.
The original recipe also calls for powder fort (which I explain below). I recommend trying it if you're really interested in trying the authentic recipe. It's not every day that you can try the oldest, most original, lasagna recipe . . . or can you?
What in the World Is Powder Fort?
Powder fort is what was used before meat sauce was preferred. Depending on how many layers you want to add (and the size of your casserole dish), you may have to double, triple, or even quadruple the recipe below.
- 1/4 cup powdered ginger
- 1/4 cup long pepper, ground
- 1/4 cup cinnamon (Ceylon), ground
- 1 1//2 tsp. cloves, ground
- 1/4 cup black pepper, ground
- 1 tsp. cubebs.
- 1 tsp. grains of paradise
- Combine all seasonings and mix.
- Powder fort is ready to use.
Powder Fort Substitute
If you'd prefer not to use powder fort, you can use it with a thick meat sauce and a package of Italian seasonings or a package of seasonings specifically for a spaghetti sauce. Personally, I use more tomato paste when it comes to making lasagna sauce.
Quick and Easy Meat Sauce for Lasagna
Here is how you can make meat sauce.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2 jars spaghetti sauce, any brand
- 2 (6-oz) cans tomato paste
- Brown ground beef; drain grease.
- Over low heat, mix in spaghetti sauce.
- Add and mix in tomato paste.
- Warm up and let sit for 30 minutes before use.
The Oldest (Most Original) Lasagna Recipe
Here is how you can make this lasagna.
- 1 gallon chicken broth (or water)
- lasagna noodles
- meat sauce (recipe above)
- Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil (optional)
- Powder fort (recipe above)
- Bring 1 gallon of chicken broth to a boil (you may also use plain water).
- Safely and slowly place the lasagna noodles in boiling broth (or water) until desired taste and tenderness.
- If needed, start making the meat sauce now.
- After the lasagna noodles are at your desired taste and tenderness, spread them out over a large, dry towel and lightly sprinkle the noodles with Parmesan cheese. You may use olive oil also before sprinkling the Parmesan cheese.
- Butter the bottom of a large casserole dish and start spreading evenly one layer of the lasagna noodles.
- Cover generously with Parmesan cheese. (You could continue to use Parmesan cheese as the original recipe calls for or try switching it up by using cottage cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese, etc.).
- Carefully put another layer of lasagna noodles down evenly.
- You could spread the powder fort evenly as the original recipe calls for, or you could just use a generous amount of meat sauce.
- Carefully put another layer of lasagna noodles down evenly and spread a cheese of your choice (mozzarella is most preferred). Cover carefully another layer of noodles.
- You could spread more powder fort evenly as the original recipe calls for, or, once again, you could use the meat sauce.
- Cover with Parmesan cheese (or another cheese of your choice).
Serve With Garlic Bread
Did you know that garlic bread is served as a side dish in North America but is served as an entree in South America?
You must serve this lasagna...any lasagna, in fact, pretty much any Italian dish with a side of brochette bread or, at least garlic bread.
What do you think of this authentic lasagna recipe?
Bruschetta or Garlic Bread
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© 2017 James Timothy Peters