Lasagna is an Italian specialty, but it has been embraced by the Italian American community with such vigor, it is impossible to keep it off a list of most-loved Italian comfort foods in this country.
Layers of thick noodles, a rich ragu, béchamel sauce and lots of Parmigiano-Reggiano would be the Italian version. Many think it was invented in Naples, most likely just after the tomato was introduced to Italy from the New World.
This is a recipe that begs to be tinkered with, so American versions include ricotta, mozzarella, beef of all sorts, even pork, as in a good pork sausage or ham, and a host of vegetables, including mushrooms, spinach, zucchini and even squash.
Marcella Hazan, in her Italian cookbook, “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking,” makes several interesting suggestions.
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Foremost is that she thinks homemade pasta is the only way to go for the best lasagna. Hazan goes a step further and says that a green pasta, made with spinach, is the very best. She also likes a Bolognese sauce, made with chuck, not ground beef. Lastly, she keeps it traditional and avoids the stringy cheese many Americans seem to love and uses only Parmigiano-Reggiano.
I would not disagree with Hazan, but I do think a little grated top-quality buffalo mozzarella would be a nice addition, indeed. Also, please use fresh herbs when possible, adding them at the end. If they are added too early they will disappear into the sauce.