Lasagna has its origins in ancient Greece where it was known as “laganon.” The term, “laganon” referred to the pasta as opposed to the dish. This dish consisted of layered sheets of wide noodles that were separated by a sauce. It did not include cheese, meat, or vegetables.
Greek influence over Roman cuisine inspired the Romans to adopt this dish. Instead of using the Greek name, the Romans called it, “lasanum” which was Latin for the container or pot that was used to make this pasta.
The concept of lasagna evolved during the Middle Ages. The first known recipe for this product was printed during the early 14th century in the Liber de Coquina (Book of Cookery). In this recipe, fermented bread dough was flattened into thin sheets. The dough was boiled, drained, and sprinkled with herbs, spices, and cheese prior to being eaten with a pointed stick. Subsequent recipes called for the pasta to be boiled in chicken broth and to be served with cheese and chicken fat.
In Naples, lasagne di carnevale is layered with sausage, small meatballs, hard boiled eggs, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese. It’s sauced with a Neapolitan style ragu (meat sauce). Other regional areas of Italy include variations that feature different combinations of cheese, different sauces, meats such as ground beef, pork, or chicken, and a variety of vegetables with zucchini, spinach, and mushrooms being the most common. Regardless of what ingredients are used to make a lasagna, all such products are always baked.
In Southern Italy, the pasta is made by mixing semolina flour and water. The hand cranked pasta machine that’s used to make lasagna creates pasta with rippled edges. In Northern Italy the pasta is made with eggs and flour. The pasta is also flat.
Italian immigrants brought the recipe for lasagna to the United States. Variations to the traditional recipe occurred because the quality of the olive oil and mozzarella cheese that were available in this country was not same as the products sold in Italy. In time, hamburger meat and bottled spaghetti sauce replaced the long simmered ragu. The use of meatballs and hard boiled eggs were also abandoned.
As a third generation U.S. citizen, I grew up eating lasagna and other American (or Americanized) foods. In an effort to help with culturally mainstreaming my sister and me, my mother often prepared meals using a Betty Crocker cookbook. To assemble this lasagna, she layered boiled lasagna pasta with Ragu brand spaghetti sauce that she had mixed with fried ground beef and onions. Each layer of pasta and Ragu sauce was covered with crumbled ricotta and mozzarella cheese. After assembling this casserole, she baked it in the oven until the cheese was melted and gooey. This was a simple but delicious meal.
While my mother and sister and I enjoyed our lasagna with toasted garlic bread and a garden salad, my father always had to have a bowl of steamed white rice even though the rice didn’t complement the lasagna. Having been born in China in the tiny clan village of Fou Shek (Floating Stone), my father was raised eating rice the way many Europeans and Americans were raised eating bread. He simply couldn’t conceive of eating any dinner without a bowl of rice. Not only did he have rice as a side dish with lasagna but he also had rice whenever we had stew, grilled steaks, burgers, or spaghetti.
Since I’m currently on a Keto (high protein/low carb) diet. I haven’t tasted a lasagna in months. Having recently improvised a Marinara candle fragrance, I decided to make a lasagna candle. After hand sculpting a piece of lasagna using clay, I used the clay to make a silicone mold. Once the mold was ready, I melted Golden Soy Wax 444, added the candle fragrance, and waited for the wax to cool and set.
Pictured here was the result.
After using acrylic paint to hand paint the appearance of ground beef and a sauce along the sides. The completed candle was sprayed with gloss enamel to give it a moist looking shine.
The lasagna candle pictured above smells of garlic, marinara sauce, cheese, and beef.
I also used the lasagna mold to make a spinach lasagna candle. In making this candle, I omitted the beef fragrance while increasing the use of the marinara aroma. Instead of painting the spinach on, I dyed some wax dark green and used a butter knife to spread the cooling wax onto the sides of this candle.
If any of you are on a Keto diet, you should know that it’s possible to make a Keto friendly lasagna using Green Giant’s keto friendly pizza crust. This crust is primarily made with cauliflower. If you substitute the pasta with a cauliflower pizza crust and/or Banderita Carb Counter Carb Lean Tortillas, (both of which are sold at Wal-Mart), you may use the rest of the ingredients that are normally used to produce a lasagna.
Pictured below is a Keto friendly lasagna that I made using the cauliflower pizza crust to form the top layer of “pasta.” The other pasta layers were made using a Banderita Carb Counter Carb Lean Tortillas.