The "lasagne" is a fresh pasta dish of Emilia-Romagna region, typical of the Bologna's territory. For this reason the dish is also called "Lasagne bolognesi".
Another typical dish is the lasagne verdi alla bolognese (green lasagne) is made with green spinach pasta, meat sauce ragù and besciamella (béchamel). Like many cherished heirloom dishes, the preparation can vary, depending on who is in the kitchen.
The American journalist John Mariani, expert of Italian cuisine, notes in his article about "The perfect lasagne" that "everyone has an opinion on the proper lasagne, and everyone will have his or her own version, and of course, it's the best!”.
The classic recipe has five, seven or even twelve sheets of pasta with small amounts of the ragù and besciamella on each layer. The top is enriched with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The completed dish bakes at 355 degrees for about 45 minutes.
The historical origins are very old. A written testimony dates 1863, when the scholar Francesco Zambrini (Faenza 1810-Bologna 1887) publishes the medieval recipe of lasagne in the book "Il libro della cocina" of the 14th century, taken from the miscellaneous code 158, preserved in the Library of the Bologna's University. At that time, however, the lasagne are made by sheets of pasta with just a dressing of cheese sauce on each layer.
In the last century the recipe settles itself with the ingredients that we know, based on meat sauce ragù, Parmigiano cheese and besciamella.
With regard to the historical origin of besciamella, the sauce seems to be created in the 14th century, introduced in France by the Italian chefs of Caterina de Medici (1519-1589), the Italian-born Queen of France married to Henri, Duke of Orleans (the future King Henri II of France). The name, however, comes from that of Marquis Louis de Béchamel (1603–1703), a 17th century financier who held the honorary post of chief steward of King Louis XIV's (1643-1715) household. It is also said he has re-invented Béchamel Sauce in order to come up with a new way of serving and eating dried cod.
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