This classic Emilian lasagne involves the staples of the region's cuisine: fresh egg pasta (plain or green pasta made with spinach, known as lasagne verdi), full-flavoured beef and pork ragu, bechamel sauce and the region's favourite cheese, Parmesan, layered in a casserole dish and baked.
Slowly, and particularly after the Second World War, it became more common to see lasagne in regions all over the Italian peninsula, where regional touches were added, creating variations that have become specialties, strongly linked to those places.
In the south, mozzarella or provola might replace or be added to the Parmesan. In Sicily and Naples, you'll find fresh ricotta substitutes the bechamel and the ragu might be plumped up with the addition of hard boiled eggs, meatballs, sausage, fried vegetables like eggplant, salumi or more cheese. In Liguria, the home of pesto, a vegetarian version has pesto replacing the ragu and sliced, boiled potatoes substituting the bechamel.
Le Marche and Umbria have the unique vincisgrassi. Their hearty ragu of beef and pork usually includes an array of offal (chicken gibblets, crests or calf brains, for example) or even local truffles and the handmade pasta dough is often spiked with marsala.
Lasagne is also known in some households as pasticcio, a charming name which also means “mess”. Whatever it's called and however it's made, lasagne is a dish made to satisfy and comfort. A homely but hearty dish, often made for family gatherings and special occasions like Christmas. To paraphrase Elizabeth David in Italian Food, all you can manage (and all you need) after a meal of lasagne is perhaps some salad and fruit.
This classic way to prepare lasagne as is traditional in Emilia-Romagna involves preparing a loose bechamel sauce and a beef and pork ragu. Some add dabs of butter in between the layers as well. If you're really keen you can even make the pasta yourself (take a look here - http://food52.com/blog...). If you're time-strapped, leave that part out and go with pre-made, store-bought pasta. Whether you're using store-bought, homemade, dried or fresh pasta, it is usually best to cook the pasta in boiling, salted water before layering – it results in a better consistency.
A handy tip – let the lasagne rest 10-15 after you take it out of the oven and before serving. During this time, the pasta will absorb some of the excess liquid from the ragu, which means cutting will be easier and the filling in portions will be more even. —Emiko