Baked Lasagne in Broth alla Molisana.

Baked Lasagne in Broth alla Molisana; Recipe from Molise.

This baked lasagne in broth is a very very old recipe from the tiny Southern Italian region of Molise. It is absolutely scrumptious and so worth the time it takes to make!

Baked Lasagne in Broth alla Molisana

Lasagne al brodo alla Molisana.

Baked lasagne in broth is a typical dish from Molise, Italy’s second smallest region. This Molise version of lasagne al forno is totally unlike the better-known, classic  lasagna alla Bolognese.

Baked Lasagne in Broth alla Molisana

This is a unique dish, so worth the effort it takes to make. It’s very nutritious, warming and comforting in winter.  In this recipe, you fill the layers between the lasagne sheets with small veal meatballs, shredded veal and chicken from the broth and mozzarella.  Then, you bake and serve the lasagna in the broth.

Ingredients for broth; Baked Lasagne in Broth alla Molisana

A recipe that dates back to Ancient Rome.

This is a really ancient recipe, the origins of which date back to Roman times. The original pasta used in this recipe would have been lagane, a type of rustic fresh pasta made from just flour and water, typical of the Southern Italian regions.

Ingredients for broth in pot for Baked Lasagne in Broth alla Molisana

This pasta differs in size depending on the cook and the area. However, it is usually thicker and wider than tagliatelle but narrower than lasagne or made into squares.

Ingredients for Baked Lasagne in Broth alla Molisana

One of the first references to a similar recipe can be found in the ancient Roman cookbook by Apicio called ‘De Re Coquinaria’. This book dates back to 1st century AD!

Lagane pasta cooked in broth with vegetables and meat, especially chicken, was also a typical Southern Italian dish made for families in mourning in a tradition known as ‘lo cunzuole’, meaning condolences.  In the past, neighbours would cook lagane in broth and bring it to the home of the deceased for the family and funeral guests to eat after they returned from the cemetery.

ingredients for veal meatballs in white bowl

There is actually a festival dedicated to baked lasagne in broth (or ‘sagna ‘in the local dialect) in the town of Guglionesi (Campobasso) in Molise every August. However, this is really a dish that is more suited to the winter. In fact, traditionally, baked lasagne in broth is often on the menu for St. Stephen’s Day on December 26th.

small veal meatballs on white plate

Worth the time it takes!

Baked lasagne in broth requires a bit of time to prepare and can’t be hurried. So, this is a dish for Sundays or holidays, as is traditional in Molise. However, you can divide the preparation into steps, a couple of which can be done the day before. You can make the broth and boiled meat in advance. Plus, the meatballs can be prepared in advance too, either cooked or uncooked.

veal meatballs cooking in frying pan

Fresh or dried pasta.

If you decide to make homemade lasagne, I would do it the same day. Of  course, assembling and baking this dish needs to be done just prior to eating. For this recipe, I used ready made fresh lasagne sheets from Giovanni Rana. You can also use dried lasagne sheets, but you will need to blanch them slightly in boiling water for best results.

shredded chicken and veal in white bowl

First layer for baked lasagne in broth alla Molisana lasagne sheets, shredded meat, meatballs and mozzarella

Baked lasagne in broth reheats well and we had leftovers the following day.  However, it was most delicious straight from the oven.  Even though this is a time consuming dish to make, I have to say it is seriously delicious. It is definitely so worth the effort. I’m sure that you will agree with me if you try it!

Baked Lasagne in Broth alla Molisana

Baked Lasagne in Broth alla Molisana ready for the oven

If you make this baked lasagne in broth recipe, I’d love to hear how it turns out and if you liked it. So, please leave a comment here on the blog or on The Pasta Project Facebook page.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Buon appetito!

Baked Lasagne in Broth alla Molisana

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5 from 13 votes
Baked Lasagne in Broth alla Molisana
Baked Lasagne in Broth alla Molisana
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time
3 hrs

In this unique baked lasagne recipe from Molise, the layers of lasagne sheets are filled with small veal meatballs, shredded veal and chicken from the broth and mozzarella and then baked and served in broth. 

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, Molise, Southern Italian
Keyword: baked pasta recipe, broth, lasagna, lasagne al forno, meat, meatballs
Servings: 4
Author: Jacqueline De Bono
  • 200 g lasagne sheets (7oz) I used ready made fresh lasagne from Giovanni Rana. You can make your own pasta or use dried lasagne
For the broth
  • 1 chicken or stewing hen medium sized
  • 250 g veal (9oz) loin or shoulder
  • 2 celery stalks washed
  • 2 carrots washed
  • 1 onion peeled
  • 2 tomatoes small (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
For meatballs
  • 250 g minced veal (9oz)
  • 50 g Parmesan cheese grated (2oz)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs either fresh bread soaked in milk and squeezed or dried ready made breadcrumbs
  • nutmeg
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or other cooking oil
to finish the dish
  • 2 mozzarella
  • 100 g Parmigiano Reggiano grated (3.5 oz)
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  1. First you need to prepare a good broth with the chicken/stewing hen and the piece of veal, plus the celery, carrot, onion and a couple of small tomatoes. 

  2. Wash the celery, carrots and tomatoes. Cut the celery and carrots into large pieces. Peel the onion and cut in half.

  3. Put all the ingredients into a deep pot. Cover with water, season with salt and pepper and simmer for a couple of hours. Skim off the fat that comes to the top. 

  4. Once the broth is ready and the meat is cooked, shred the boiled chicken and veal into small pieces. If you do this the day before, keep the meat in a bowl with a little broth so that it remains soft. Keep the rest of the broth for preparing and serving the dish.

Make the meatballs
  1. Put all the ingredients in a bowl (except the oilve oil). Mix together well with your hands. Shape small round meatballs using your hands. Refrigerate the meatballs for 15-30 minutes.

  2. Fry the meatballs gently in a frying pan with a little heated olive oil until browned all over. You don’t need to cook them through. Set aside.

Finish the dish
  1. Drain the mozzarella and cut into pieces. Pour a little stock onto the bottom of an oven dish and make a first layer of lasagne sheets on top of it.

  2. Spread some of the mixed shredded boiled meat over the pasta. Add some meatballs and pieces of mozzarella. Moisten with broth, without fear of exaggerating because you need quite a lot. Finish the layer by sprinkling with grated Parmigiano and a little nutmeg.

  3. Repeat with another layer of pasta, shredded meat, meatballs, mozzarella and Parmigiano and nutmeg.

  4. Repeat and finish with a layer of pasta. Sprinkle with lots of Parmigiano. Add enough broth so the broth reaches half way up the sides of the dish. 

  5. Bake for about 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 180°. Serve with extra heated broth in a deep bowl or plate with more grated Parmigiano if required.

Recipe Notes

If you use dried lasagne sheets you will need to blanch them in boiling water before assembling this dish. Some people filter the broth before assembling the lasagna. I prefer not to as I like to include some of the veggies in the finished dish.

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baked lasagne in broth

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  • Avatar
    Joyce J Wang
    May 22, 2020 3:34 am

    My first time making lasagne and it was awesome! When I just finish baking them, is there supposed to be a lot of soup in the oven pan or am I just putting too much soup?

    • Jacqui
      May 22, 2020 7:31 am

      Hi Joyce, thanks for your comment! I’m glad you liked this recipe. It’s difficult to know if you put too much broth without seeing it. However, there’s still supposed to be some broth in the pan after baking. Approximately half of what there was before baking. This lasagna should be crisp on top but served in broth. Hope that helps!

  • Avatar
    Rachel Angiletta
    January 16, 2020 10:03 pm

    My mother always made this dish every Christmas day, passed away 9 years ago at a young age…she comes from the same town you mention Guglionesi (Campobasso) we really love this recipe and is identical to my mom’s.. thank you

    • Jacqui
      January 17, 2020 9:01 am

      Dearest Rachel Thanks so much for your comment. You must miss your mum, I’m sure. I’m happy that this recipe brings back memories of her! I imagine she was a great cook!

  • Avatar
    Sri Mallya
    November 8, 2018 5:04 pm

    Totally in love with the combination of ingredients. So flavorful and delicious. Perfect dinner recipe!

    • Jacqui
      November 13, 2018 10:52 am

      Thanks so much Sri! Yes the flavours here are amazing. I was a little unsure how well baking lasagne in broth would turn out but I have to say it was fantastic!

  • Avatar
    Stine Mari
    November 8, 2018 8:58 am

    That looks really good! Love that it’s meatballs instead of minced meat. And making your own broth makes everything so much better.

    • Jacqui
      November 13, 2018 10:54 am

      Grazie dear Stine! The homemade broth and meatballs make this dish extra special!

  • Avatar
    November 7, 2018 5:14 pm

    This sounds like such a beautiful and comforting dish – there is always something so special about recipes that take time and care to prepare.

    • Jacqui
      November 13, 2018 10:55 am

      Thank you Courtney! This dish is really worth the time it takes to make! Very comforting and delicious!

  • Avatar
    November 4, 2018 4:50 pm

    What an interesting recipe! Love that you also provided detailed information about its origin.

    • Jacqui
      November 6, 2018 4:29 pm

      Thanks Julia! Yes this is quite a unique way to cook lasagna but it’s definitely worth trying!

  • Avatar
    Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry
    November 4, 2018 3:03 pm

    This looks so delicious and definitely worth the time it takes. I love that it reheats well – I always like when you can stretch tasty meals like this further!

    • Jacqui
      November 6, 2018 4:30 pm

      Thanks so much Bintu! This is really worth the time it takes! So scrumptious!

  • Avatar
    November 4, 2018 11:13 am

    Wow I’ve never come across a lasagne quite like it! It’s sounds like it’s well worth all the effort and time!

    • Jacqui
      November 6, 2018 4:31 pm

      Thanks for your comment Emma! Yes, this baked lasagne is quite unique. But so worth making!

  • Avatar
    November 4, 2018 10:51 am

    Lasagna is total comfort food and this looks delicious. Love all the flavour going in to this.

    • Jacqui
      November 6, 2018 4:32 pm

      Grazie Dannii! I agree lasagna is perfect comfort food. Love it in winter!

  • Avatar
    Veena Azmanov
    October 31, 2018 8:45 pm

    My family loves lasagne so I make sure I make one atleast once a week. Just came across your recipe and I can’t wait to try it out. It looks so delicious with a blend of the perfect ingredients

    • Jacqui
      November 4, 2018 9:21 am

      Thank you Veena! We love baked lasagne too. This one is rather special because it’s so different to most others. It’s really worth making!

  • Avatar
    Lauren Vavala | Delicious Little Bites
    October 31, 2018 8:28 pm

    So many wonderful flavors in this recipe! This sounds like a perfect recipe for a Sunday at home with the family!

    • Jacqui
      November 4, 2018 9:23 am

      Thanks Lauren! Yes this baked lasagne has some wonderful flavours! It’s a great Sunday dish!

  • Avatar
    Adriana Lopez Martin
    October 31, 2018 7:50 pm

    Love the idea of the little meatballs instead of using the ground meat in the sauce. My husband is a lasagna fan will need to bake this for him soon.

    • Jacqui
      November 4, 2018 9:24 am

      Thank you Adriana! I’m sure your husband will love this baked lasagne! Little meatballs in baked pasta is traditional in Southern Italy and seriously good!

  • Avatar
    October 31, 2018 6:36 pm

    This looks so flavorful and delicious! Yum!

    • Jacqui
      November 4, 2018 9:25 am

      Grazie Jamielyn! Yes, this is a wonderful way to eat baked lasagne!

  • Avatar
    October 31, 2018 6:33 pm

    This looks like such a wonderful dinner! I think baked in broth sounds like a yummy change of pace from sauce!

    • Jacqui
      November 4, 2018 9:26 am

      Thanks so much Sara! baked in broth is delicious! I hope you’ll try this recipe!

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