The Neapolitan Carnival lasagna is a rich and tasty first dish made with fresh egg pasta, meat sauce, meatballs, ricotta cheese and provola, which is never missing on the tables of Neapolitans (and not only) during this cheerful period.
Origins of lasagna: Bolognese or Neapolitan?
It is not surprising that the origins of lasagna, one of the most famous and appreciated dishes in the world, are disputed between several cities: in fact, both Naples and Bologna are claiming their birth. Where is lasagna born?
The first form of lasagna, although far from the meaning we have today, appears in ancient Rome with the name of Laganon and looks like a sheet of pasta that was sometimes filled with layers of meat.
It was only around the Fourteenth Century that lasagna arrived in Bologna, where it underwent a series of influences that led it to become more similar to what we know today. Here, in fact, the cheese was integrated into the recipe and the sheets of wheat were replaced with those of egg pasta.
A little later the lasagna arrived in Naples and was completed with tomato sauce, thus becoming the symbol of Italy that we all know. It should be noted, however, that there are differences between the Emilian and Neapolitan versions of lasagna: if in fact the latter is seasoned with ricotta, meatballs, hard-boiled eggs and dairy products; the first omits these ingredients and replaces them with the béchamel sauce.
Recipe of Neapolitan lasagna
Like many Neapolitan recipes, the Neapolitan lasagna recipe is rather elaborate and laborious.
The first thing you need to do is the meat sauce, which is often prepared even the day before. To make it it is necessary to brown ribs and pork sausages with chopped onion, blend with red wine and then add the tomato sauce. Once cooked, separate the meat from the sauce and mix with it some ricotta cheese.
Then prepare the meatballs, making a mixture of minced meat, eggs, bread, salt and parmesan cheese that will then be fried in the form of balls.
Next, cook the hard-boiled eggs and the lasagna sheets separately in two pots of boiling water.
At this point all that remains is to assemble the various levels alternating the lasagna sheets with layers of sauce and ricotta, pieces of eggs and fior di latte (or provola), meatballs and pecorino. Finish with a layer of pastry covered with tomato sauce and pecorino cheese and bake for about half an hour. Et voila, the Neapolitan lasagna is ready to be tasted!
Curiosities about Neapolitan lasagna
One of the most interesting and surprising aspects that characterizes the lasagna is the quantity of bibliographic quotes traced in the literature. To name a few, Jacopone da Todi wrote: "Granel di pepe vince per virtù la lasagna" (that means: "A peppercorn is more virtuous than a lasagna"), while Cecco Angiolieri stated that "Chi de l'altrui farina fa lasagne, il su' castello non ha ne muro ne fosso" ("Whoever prepares his own lasagna with someone else's flour, has a castle without walls or moat"), and again Fra 'Salimbene from Parma, referring to a monk of his acquaintance, said: "I have never seen anyone who was so eager to binge on lasagna with cheese as him".
Another nice curiosity about lasagna concerns Ferdinand II of Bourbon, the so-called "Re Lasagna" ("King Lasagna"). The sovereign to whom we owe the unity of Italy, had indeed been so renamed by his father, right because of his immoderate passion for this dish. And if even King Ferdinand went so crazy about it, it is the case to say that: lasagna is so good to "go in front of the king" (Italian idiom meaning that something is so well done that could be ideal even for a king).