Lasagna is both a form of pasta in sheets (sometimes rippled, though seldom so in Northern Italy) and also a dish, sometimes named lasagne al forno (meaning "oven-cooked lasagne") made with alternate layers of pasta, cheese, and often ragů (a meat sauce) or tomato sauce.
The word lasagna, which originally applied to a cooking pot, now simply describes the food itself.
Some recipes call for more than one cheese, most often ricotta and mozzarella. Mozzarella is made in the south of Italy, so the use of these two cheeses is typical of lasagne made in Naples or further south.
Lasagne alla Bolognese uses only Parmigiano Reggiano, Bolognese sauce and nutmeg flavored béchamel sauce (besciamella). Classic Bologna lasagne should be made with Lasagne verdi (green lasagne) which is egg pasta with added spinach, although in other towns of Emilia-Romagna, the lasagne need not be green. As with the term 'lasagne', the verdi variety can refer to the dish or the pasta. A vegetarian version of the traditional Bologna lasagne or “Lasagne alla bolognese" is sometimes found in adjacent in Tuscany – not traditionally a pasta region – and other regions. It substitutes a simple tomato and basil sauce for the Bolognese sauce, arranged with layers of noodles, nutmeg flavored béchamel sauce and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Especially outside Italy, there are many variants, from artichoke spinach lasagna to spicy chipotle lasagna to vegetarian and seafood versions. The dish lends itself to creative use of ingredients by home cooks as well as chefs.
Today the term "Lasagne" is often chef speak for layering and baking, so you may find a Potato/Scallop or a Frittata/Shrimp "Lasagne" where there is no pasta in the dish at all
In eastern Europe a similar dish called azanki is made.
Rippled sheets are typically packaged pasta made of durum or hard wheat which repels sauces – the ripples are designed to hold the sauce better. Emilia-Romagna egg pasta, which is made with soft wheat, drinks up sauce and does not need the help of rippling.
Although the dish is generally believed to have originated in Italy, one theory is that the word "lasagna" comes from the Greek lasana or lasanon meaning "trivet or stand for a pot", "chamber pot". The Romans borrowed the word as "lasanum", in Latin, meaning "cooking pot". The Italians used the word to refer to the dish in which lasagna is made. It wasn't long before the name of the food took on the name of the serving dish.
Another theory suggests that lasagna might come from Greek laganon, a flat sheet of pasta dough cut into strips.
The recipe was featured in the first cookbook ever written in England, leading to an urban legend that the dish originated in the British Isles. The claim is dubious, in light of the much earlier Roman use of "lasanum".
- In the comic strip Garfield, lasagna is said to be the favorite food of Garfield, an orange tabby cat who enjoys eating, but especially loves lasagna.
- In the television series Friends, lasagna is one of the foods favored by character Joey Tribbiani.
- In the animated television series Daria, Daria Morgendorffer's family is seen eating lasagna for dinner in nearly every episode.
Yankovic recorded a parody
of "La Bamba" (song)
Valens titled Lasagna on his album
Even Worse. The song includes
many references to Italian food and culture.