Brits may think they know lasagne, but in actual fact this dish is made differently in each region of Italy, with variations dating back as far as the Middle Ages.
In Emilia Romagna, where Bolognese sauce (ragu) comes from, classic Lasagne Alla Bolognese is served – it’s the same recipe us Brits tend to follow. The dense dish is made with a rich Bolognese layered between sheets of pasta with a creamy béchamel sauce, topped with the famous cheese of the region, Parmigiano Reggiano. For the Bolognese sauce, beef and pork mince are simmered slowly with red wine, finely chopped onions, carrots and celery to create a rich ragu.
In the Veneto region, in northeast Italy, lasagne doesn’t feature a traditional ragu. Instead, a vegetarian version is favoured; Lasagne radicchio rosso alla Trevigiana, where red radicchio (chicory) is sautéed with butter, onions and wine, replacing ragu.
Genoa has long been considered the birthplace of basil pesto, so it comes as little surprise the region’s take on lasagne includes the herby sauce instead of Bolognese and béchamel sauce for Lasagne alla Genovese.
In Naples, lasagne is a hearty affair. Lasagne alla Napoletana is made with ragu alla Napoletana instead of Bolognese, a very rich tomato sauce made using pork sausages and ribs. The sauce is then layered between sheets of fresh pasta with meatballs, mozzarella and ricotta.
In Campania and Sicily, the béchamel sauce is often replaced with ricotta and grated mozzarella layered with pasta and sausages, as well as a meat ragu.
In Marche, their lasagne, Vincisgrassi, is a highlight of their cuisine. A decadent dish, it’s made using prosciutto, porcini mushrooms, chicken stock and double cream.
In Tuscany, Lunigiana, Bastard Lasagne or Lasagne Matte (crazy lasagne) is a favourite, with lasagne sheets made from chestnut flour combined with wheat flour.
Even the sparsely populated mountainous region of Molise has its own version of lasagna, a unique type of soup called Sagne e cicerchie. There are many variations, but usually chicken stock, lasagne sheets, veal meatballs and Scamorza cheese are layered in a bowl, or for a vegetarian version, lasagne sheets, beans and rustic vegetables.