It is one hundred percent IMPERATIVE that no matter where I am in the world, Thanksgiving is celebrated. After three years living in Italy, I’m not unrealistic about what this means. I will of course have to use substitutes and since I’m in Italy pasta dishes will definitely be intertwined throughout my Thanksgiving Day feast. If anything, it makes for a very unique Thanksgiving experience and an even more delicious meal. I like to think of it as “Grazie Giving” or properly without my “Itanglish”, ringaziamento.
I always liked lasagna and coming from an Italian-American family, both my mom and grandma cook up some mean lasagna. But I have to say, it wasn’t until I actually moved to Italy that I fell head over heels for this exquisite dish. In Tuscany (since every region has their own twist on the dish) it’s made using a bechamel sauce and it makes the lasagna creamy and rich. I swear I could eat it just about every day!
Lasagna even has quite a significant history. Whoever thinks that lasagne is a dish fairly recent, they’re wrong.
Of course, at that time, the lasagna was not as we know it today, but consisted of a few strips of dough cut into squares, cooked in a pan or on a griddle and served with vegetables and cheese.
For many centuries, the lasagna invented by the Romans was called “Lasana” or “lasanum” which meant “vase” or “container”. That is, until the fourteenth century, when Francis Zambrini discovered for the first time that those pasta strips could be left intact and could even create layers that can be filled with cheese.
If you’re looking to do something a little out of the ordinary, obviously, you know what my suggestions is. Try a wonderful Tuscan style lasagna recipe that will blow everyone away. Take a look at this recipe and if you don’t use it for Thanksgiving find another excuse to make it. I’m telling you, it’s delicious.
Lasagna Recipes are rich – but the trick is in the simplicity. The main ingredients that go into the composition are incredibly rich and flavourful and extremely satisfying is served seperately – so it is an art to mix them without creating a dish that is an overload for the senses. The jury is out for those who like it high or low (lots of layers or just a few) personally – I like it high!
Though there are thousands of variations the best (in my opinion) consists of my favorite meat sauce, Abundant bechamel sauce (on the liquidy side), shredded mozzarella cheese, grated parmesan cheese, Salt & Pepper q.b. and of course, sheets of pasta (best if it is fresh!)
First layer is bechamel, then pasta. Now if the beschael is liquidy enough I find there is no need to pre cook the pasta – and even these pre-cooked dry sheets work. However the fresh stuff is thinner which allows for a lot more layers to the lasagna 🙂 Each layer should be a mix and match of its own – some only “sugo” (meat sauce), some only bechamel, then a little of this or a lot of that – every layer should be a surprise that when cooked melts together into perfection. The only layer that is a must – is the botton and top both only bechamel.
Cover the dish in beschamel so that when finished it will have a golden brown top of lightly crunch wholesome goodness! Best if served tepid – if you srve right out of the oven it will slip and slide on the plate. And this is one of those dishes that is just as good (if not better) on the second day … but it’s also a lot like pecan pie… in that it never gets to the second day!