Calabrese Lasagna: A Taste of Tradition and History

There is very little in life that excites me more than the scent that trails from the kitchen while a lasagna is baking. Mostly passed down through generations, lasagna recipes may differ in ingredients and combination but one thing always remains the same, it is a labor of love.

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Lasagna combines the warmth of family tradition with the excellence of Italian cuisine. A harmonious combination of flavors and textures. Its truly the masterpiece of Italian cuisine.

The origins of lasagna can be traced back to ancient Rome, where it was enjoyed as a dish made with layers of pasta, meat, and cheese. Over time, the recipe evolved across different regions of Italy, each adding their own unique twist.

Calabrese Lasagna has a deep-rooted history that dates back centuries. Originating in the Calabrian region of Southern Italy, this recipe reflects the vibrant culinary heritage of the area. Calabria, known for its fertile lands and agricultural abundance, has long been revered for its exceptional produce and traditional recipes. To all those who came to visit us every Tuesday night for Lasagna night at our restaurant in CT, I am so happy I was able to get mom to share this recipe with you and the rest of the world!

Key ingredients used in Calabrese Lasagna

To truly appreciate the flavors of Calabrese Lasagna, it’s essential to understand the key ingredients that make it so exceptional. The foundation of this dish lies in the quality and freshness of the ingredients used.

The pasta sheets, often homemade, are the base upon which all the flavors are built. The perfect al dente texture is achieved through careful cooking and precise timing. The tomato sauce, made from ripe and flavorful tomatoes, is slow-cooked to develop a rich and robust flavor profile.

The mini meatballs (my favorite) are so important and unique to a Calabrese lasagna. Fried to perfection they bring a bold and distinctive taste to the lasagna, but good luck trying to not eat them all while you are layering your lasagna!

The addition of hard boiled eggs (adds a creamy and velvety texture, making each bite a delightful surprise), ham and peas are the key ingredients in a Calabrese lasagna that make it so flavorful and so unique!

A generous amount of mozzarella cheese, carefully melted to create a golden and gooey topping, completes the masterpiece.

Traditional Calabrese Lasagna recipe

To create an authentic Calabrese Lasagna, follow this traditional recipe:

Tips and tricks for making the perfect Calabrese Lasagna

Creating a perfect Calabrese Lasagna requires attention to detail and a few tricks of the trade. Here are some important tips to help you achieve lasagna excellence:

  1. Don’t overcook the pasta. Aim for a slightly firm texture, as it will continue to cook in the oven.
  2. Allow the lasagna to rest before serving. This will help the layers set and make it easier to cut into neat portions. SO IMPORTANT!

Calabrese Lasagna

Recipe by Bianca DeMasiCourse: Lunch, DinnerCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Difficult

Ingredients

  • Meat Sauce
  • One Spanish onion chopped

  • olive oil

  • small can tomato paste (Love Mutti Brand)

  • large can tomato sauce (Love Mutti Brand)

  • 2 lb ground beef

  • approx. 2 cups heavy cream

  • Meatballs
  • 1 lb ground beef

  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs

  • 1/4 cup grated cheese

  • 1 eggs

  • finely chopped onion

  • salt & pepper

  • Other Ingredients Needed
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen peas

  • 5 hard boiled eggs chopped into small square pieces

  • 2 boxes no cook Barilla lasagna noodles

  • 1/4 lb. good quality baked ham cut into small squares (optional)

  • 2 bags full fat shredded mozzarella

Directions

  • Sauce
  • Start your meat sauce by sautéing the onion in olive oil until translucent
  • Crumble in ground beef and break up meat with a wooden spoon so that there are no clumps.
  • When the meat is cooked through add the tomato paste, stirring it well so it coats all the meat and does not burn on the bottom of the pan.
  • Now add your tomato sauce and 1 cup of water
  • Let sauce simmer on low for at least two hours, stirring occasionally
  • Meatballs
  • Mix all meatball ingredients together
  • Form mixture into small mini meatballs and lay out on a parchment papered pan
  • Bake or fry until brown (try not to eat them all!)
  • Finalizing your lasagna
  • Once the sauce is cooked add heavy cream, peas and ham into the sauce
  • Layer your lasagna first with a little sauce on bottom of casserole dish then barilla noodles then with sauce, eggs, meatballs and mozzarella cheese, repeat these steps until top layer of your lasagna.
  • Finish top layer of your lasagna with sauce and lots of mozzarella!
  • Cover your lasagna with aluminum and cook at 425 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and cook until mozzarella is completely melted.
  • Let your lasagna rest a minimum of 20 minutes once cooking is completed!

Pairing your Lasagna with Italian wines

To truly enhance the dining experience, consider pairing your Calabrese Lasagna with a fine Italian wine. The bold flavors of the lasagna call for wines that can hold their own.

A classic choice would be a full-bodied red wine such as a Barolo or Chianti. These wines have enough tannins and acidity to cut through the richness of the lasagna and complement its flavors.

For those who prefer white wine, a rich and buttery Chardonnay or a crisp and elegant Vermentino can provide a refreshing contrast to the hearty lasagna.

Embracing the flavors of Calabria with Calabrese Lasagna

Calabrese Lasagna is a dish that embodies the heart and soul of traditional Italian cooking. With its rich flavors, layers of pasta, and the extra unique ingredients, it transports you to the sun-drenched hills of Calabria with every bite.

Whether you’re enjoying it in the beautiful region of Calabria itself or in a restaurant far from its origins, this dish is a testament to the excellence of Italian cuisine. So, take a moment to savor the flavors, embrace the traditions, and experience the true essence of Calabrese Lasagna.

Buon appetito!

If you end up making the lasagna we would LOVE to hear from you here! If you have ever had a lasagna similar to this in the U.S. send us the info so we can share!

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