Origins of Lasagne

Jade Aruzhan Sagynay delves into the origins of a classic favourite

Jade Aruzhan Sagynay
10th February 2020
This multiple-layered pasta with meats, vegetables, cheeses and spices is often believed to be Italian. Commonly, in our era, people tend to find it in Italian restaurants, but where did it truly originate from?

Of course, as is the case with most historic cuisines, Lasagne has experienced many different forms and evolved over the centuries. I would like to attempt to untangle its knotted past.

To begin with, the practice of mixing flour and water to create dough which is then boiled to become pasta dates back to the Middle Ages. Egg would be introduced to the mix much later, in the Renaissance.

There are at least two variations of name origins for Lasagne: Ancient Greek and Greek adapted by Romans. First known form of pasta is a flat sheet of bread – Laganon – from Ancient Greece. It is not the lasagne as we know it in a traditional sense, but simply layers of sauce between the pasta sheets. Another possible origin is the word Lasana, which meant “chamber pot” in Greek. Romans then transformed it into Lasanum to translate as “cooking pot”.

Where the Greek seem to have claim on the origins of the name, Britain has the first documented recipe. It dates back to 1390s and appears in a British cookbook as discovered by researchers.

However, as expected, Italy should be acknowledged for perfecting the layers and ingredients of this famous pasta dish. It is in Naples that this particular pasta originated with its traditional tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese, Béchamel and spinach induced dough for layers of pasta.

As the dish had become increasingly popular, it started spreading all across the world and variations of it have been introduced in America in 1800s.

While the preferences vary from one consumer to another, it is fair to say that Lasagne can satisfy every person with its diversity of full and rich tastes.

Make your own:


1kg beef mince
2 onions, diced
Stock cube
Chopped veggies
2 tins chopped tomatoes

Bechamel sauce:
35g Flour
450ml Milk
Handful of black peppercorns
40g butter
dash of salt and pepper
Small onion, diced

...and lasagne sheets and 100g grated cheese

  1. Fry onions in a large frying pan and add the mince. When brown, add vegetables, tomatoes and stock and allow it to simmer.
  2. For the bechamel, pour the milk, onion and peppercorns in a pan and bring to a simmer. Set aside and allow to infuse.
  3. In another pan, melt butter and add the flour for a 1-2 mins, stirring with a wooden spoon.
  4. Now add the milk gradually and simmer and whisk until it becomes thick and smooth.
  5. Boil some water in a pan and place the lasagne sheets in there for a few minutes, until soft. Remove.
  6. Using a deep. rectangular baking dish (a glass Pyrex or something similar)
  7. Starting with a layer of mince, alternate mince, bechamel sauce and pasta sheets until dish is filled with a layer of pasta and grated cheese on top.
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