Lasagne Verdi alla Bolognese
Retain the softness of Lasagna alla Bolognese piece by piece between your teeth; let the rich flavors of ragù, béchamel sauce and Parmesan cheese melt down your appetizer; you have got the whole Fat Bologna – La Grassa – on your side. In Emilia tradition, lasagna should always be made from the unique dough sfoglia and specifically in Bologna, the addition of spinach to this mixture decorates our beloved plate with the freshness of green. Back to hundreds of years ago, deep down into the oldest recorded recipes, these flat sheets of fresh pasta garnished in layers have never casted down food lovers at the very first moment the luscious lasagna touches their tongues.
Lasagna finds its history in antiquity and at least several theories have been aroused over its origin. There is no defined document clearly stating the birth of the plate but some evidences found in old books can at last shed some light on its root and evolution.
The word “lasagna” may derive from the Greek λάγανον (laganon), a flat sheet of pasta dough cut into strips. Nowadays, the word λαγάνα (lagana) is still used in Greek to refer to a flat thin type of unleavened bread baked for the Clean Monday holiday. In another possible story, lasagna comes from the Greek λάσανα (lasana) or λάσανον (lasanon) meaning “trivet or stand for a pot”, “chamber pot”. The Romans borrowed the word as “lasanum”, meaning “cooking pot” in Latin, which was then used to refer to the dish where lasagna is made.
Lasagna was first documented in the treatise De re coquinaria (The culinary art) by an Apicio (25 BC – 37 AD), an Italian gastronomer. At that time it was believed to be Marcus Tullius Cicero’s favourite recipe because of its delicacy and softness that caused Cicero no trouble to enjoy the dish despite his advanced age.
Lasagna used to be much different from what we know today. Initially, it was cut into squares, baked in the pot and served with cheese and vegetables. Only in the 14th century, when it was recorded in an old cookbook of that time, lasagna begun to be cooked in layers with stuffed cheese in between that much resembled our beloved dish nowadays. The cookbook, written by an unknown author, was then edited in 1863 and turned into a success, spreading the popularity of layered lasagna.
Finally in 1935, Paolo Monelli (1891-1984) reported his experience with green lasagna of Bologna with a quote in his famous book “The Wandering Wolverine”. The event marked a boost in the presence of this traditional cuisine all around the world, especially after World War II.
Through all scraps of time, lasagna affirms itself as a widely known and cherished dish, above all with great gratitude to the restaurants of Bologna who brought them to customers in the early ‘900.
Recipe of green lasagne in bolognese style was solemnly declared by the Accademia Italiana della Cucina on the 28th of May 2003 and deposited with notarial deed on the 4th of July 2003 at the Chamber of Commerce of Bologna, in Palazzo della Mercanzia.