Homemade lasagne pasta sheets (lasagna)
Everybody loves a good baked lasagna (lasagne al forno to the Italians). And, here on The Pasta Project there is a growing number of delicious baked lasagna recipes (yes there are different ways to make it!). However, making lasagne al forno with homemade lasagne pasta is pretty unbeatable!
Baked lasagna around Italy.
Baked lasagna is a classic dish in most Italian regions. However, the recipe varies from region to region. In Northern Italy, they make it with fresh or dried egg pasta. The other ingredients are, usually, a classic Bolognese sauce or meat ragu, Parmigiano Reggiano or grana cheese and bechamel .
In Emilia-Romagna, they often use green lasagne, made with spinach. A great favourite of mine for baked lasagna from Emilia-Romagna is baked pasta roses or swallow’s nests (nidi di rodine). In this dish, the lasagne sheets are rolled with ham and cheese and sometimes other ingredients inside them and then baked covered in bechamel. I have made this recipe with homemade lasagne and boy is it good!
In Naples, Neapolitan lasagna, a typical carnival dish, is prepared with Neapolitan ragu, meatballs, cow’s ricotta, provola and pecorino cheese. Interestingly, the lasagne in the south is usually dried and possibly made without egg.
The ragu or meat sauce is often replaced by mushrooms in some Italian mountain areas. Whereas, they sometimes use pesto instead of ragu in Liguria, and in Veneto, red radicchio from Treviso. In Umbria and in Marche there is a particular version, called ‘vincisgrassi’, in which the ragu is enriched with chicken or pork offal. In the Apennines, the ragu is replaced by a filling of porcini, truffles and pecorino and in Sicily, there is also the ‘alla Norma’ version with eggplants or they add boiled eggs to the dish.
Not all Italian recipes for ‘lasagne al forno’ contain tomatoes. In fact, there are many ‘white’ recipes too. Italians say ‘lasagna bianca’. A ‘white’ lasagna I particularly love comes from Puglia. It’s made with mushrooms and burrata. Believe me when I say it’s amazingly delicious and since there’s no meat included perfect for vegetarians too!
Here in Northern Italy, these dishes (red and white) are also called ‘pasticcio’. However, although pasticcio has layers of pasta with various fillings baked in the oven, it isn’t always made with lasagne sheets.
Making homemade lasagne pasta is easy!
Fresh lasagne sheets can be bought throughout Italy, but the absolute best is homemade lasagne. It’s actually pretty easy to make, with or without a pasta machine. Why not give it a try next time you want to make a baked lasagna? I’m sure once you’ve done it, you’ll want to do it again and again! There really is quite a difference in the taste of homemade pasta and store bought, even if the latter is fresh!
If you do try making your own homemade lasagne, I’d love to hear how it turns out. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.
Your feedback means a lot to me!
Recipes on The Pasta Project for your homemade lasagne pasta.
- Lasagne al forno with Bolognese from Emilia-Romagna
- Radicchio pasticcio (Italian chicory lasagna) from Veneto
- Baked lasagna alla Norma from Sicily
- Baked pasta roses from Emilia-Romagna
- Lasagna bianca with mushrooms and burrata from Puglia
- Italian lamb lasagna
- Poached salmon and asparagus lasagna
- Lasagna baked in broth from Molise
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Make your baked lasagna taste even better with homemade pasta! Lasagne sheets are pretty easy to make and all you need is flour, eggs and a pinch of salt.
- 400 g durum wheat flour '00'
- 4 eggs
- 1 pinch salt
To make the pasta, mound your flour on a large wooden board. Make a well in the center and add a pinch of salt.
Break the eggs into the well and whisk them a little ( you can also beat eggs in a small bowl and then add to flour or start by mixing flour and eggs together in a bowl and then turn out onto a board to knead)
Start to incorporate the eggs and flour by slowly bringing more flour in from the inside edges of the well. You can use a fork for this.
Continue mixing the flour with the eggs until they are no longer runny.
Using your hands now, bring the outside edges in, forming a large mass on your board.
Begin to knead the dough as you would bread, pushing it down with the heel of your hand.
Continue kneading for about 7-10 minutes. Knead until the pasta dough is smooth, elastic, and just slightly tacky. You can dust the dough with more flour if it’s too sticky, but try not to add too much additional flour or the pasta will be tough.
Roll the dough into a ball and wrap it in cling film and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
Cut off 1/6 of the dough, re-wrap the rest in cling film so it doesn’t dry out and roll out the piece you cut off until it is flat enough that you can pass it through a pasta machine if you are using one.
I used my pasta machine to roll out the sheets, first 3-4 times on number 4 on the dial and then a couple of times on number 6. Each time you pass the dough through the machine fold it first into thirds and pass it through again until it comes out with the right thickness and length. Cut the sheet to the length you want.
If you aren’t using a machine you need to keep rolling out the dough until it is thin enough to almost see your fingers through it. Then cut the sheet to the size you want.
Transfer the ready sheets to a drying rack for 1 hour. Repeat with the remaining dough. (the lasagne can be stored, when completely dry and stiff, for up to 1 week).
The success of any baked lasagna dish with homemade lasagne depends on using very thin, freshly made sheets of pasta. The thinness of the pasta lets the flavors of the sauce and cheese marry to create a lasagna that’s light and truly special.
When making your baked lasagna dish you can either precook the pasta for a couple of minutes in boiling salted water before assembling the dish or use it raw. In this case the sauce needs to be a little more liquidy. (I usually don't precook fresh pasta)