I Tried To Make A 700-Year-Old Lasagna Recipe • Tasty

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Oct 11, 2019


I Tried To Make A 700-Year-Old Lasagna Recipe • Tasty
I Tried To Make A 700-Year-Old Lasagna Recipe • Tasty thumb I Tried To Make A 700-Year-Old Lasagna Recipe • Tasty thumb I Tried To Make A 700-Year-Old Lasagna Recipe • Tasty thumb


  • - Let us begin.
  • (speaking pretend Italian)
  • I don't know any Italian.
  • How do you say, "Let's do it?"
  • Opposite of ciao.
  • (gentle music)
  • Welcome to the series premiere of "Edible History."
  • We're learning the stories
  • behind some of the world's most popular foods,
  • then diving into the kitchen to try our hand
  • at cooking like the chefs and bakers of yesteryear.
  • Today we're going to be discussing the origins
  • of an often loved and heartburn-inducing dish
  • called lasagna.
  • Ah, lasagna.
  • It's tasty, it's filling, it's dense,
  • but where does lasagna come from?
  • Italy, probably.
  • Why is it like this?
  • Has it always been so dense?
  • Have people ever eaten it
  • and then not immediately taken a nap?
  • These are all questions, and I'm seeking answers.
  • Today we're joined by Linda from Salty Seattle.
  • Hello!
  • - What's up, Hannah?
  • - What's up?
  • - Thank you for bringing me on.
  • - Can you tell me a little bit about lasagna,
  • where it comes from?
  • - So lasagna is actually super interesting.
  • Italy is very regionalistic
  • and everybody thinks that they invented the thing.
  • You have Sicily down in the south of Italy,
  • and then you have Bologna,
  • and they both sort of vie for
  • the inventor of what we think as modern-day lasagna,
  • but the reality is
  • it pre-dates both of those different versions.
  • This poem that dates all the way back to the 13th century,
  • "He who looks at magnitude is often mistaken.
  • "A grain of pepper conquers lasagna with its strength."
  • So that comes all the way back from the 1200s,
  • which probably pre-dates anything
  • anybody was doing in Sicily or in Bologna.
  • - Wow, that's super old.
  • Was it always as cheesy and as saucy as it is today?
  • - Definitely not.
  • Italians didn't even get tomatoes
  • until the latter Renaissance.
  • - What?
  • I think of tomatoes as basically an Italian fruit.
  • - The original lasagnas were basically dried,
  • cracky sheets with maybe a little bit of
  • like a sprinkling or a smattering of some cheese
  • and then maybe some strange and esoteric medieval spices.
  • - When I think about lasagna,
  • I picture a big serving tray of lasagna,
  • and everybody's getting their own individual slice.
  • - Earlier iterations of lasagna,
  • they would make little pasta handkerchiefs,
  • little just squares, and a square, and maybe some bechamela,
  • one of their original sauces,
  • and then another square, and then some bechamela.
  • They would actually eat it off of hot spears
  • or hot sticks.
  • - I gotta say that a boiled, semi-spiced
  • noodle on a hot stick is not what I think of
  • when I think of lasagna.
  • Today we'll be making a lasagna recipe that's 700 years old.
  • It comes from the Liber de Coquina,
  • an anonymous cookbook from the 14th century Court of Naples.
  • Wow.
  • Now, as Linda told us, this won't end up looking
  • anything like the lasagna we know and love.
  • In fact, the only ingredients that the recipe calls for
  • are semolina flour, water, cheese, and medieval spices,
  • like cardamom, clove, and cinnamon.
  • I've never thought of adding those to my lasagna,
  • never even once.
  • So to begin, let's make our dough.
  • Semolina flour plus water equals dough for me to eat.
  • To make my pasta, I'm gonna start
  • by dumping out my semolina flour and making a well.
  • And then, using our finger, we're gonna make it deeper.
  • Nice.
  • Now we're gonna pour some water into this well
  • and then start to gently stir it together.
  • We're gonna add a little more water.
  • (upbeat music)
  • Dance.
  • Oh yeah, baby.
  • Semolina? I barely know her!
  • It feels a little granular,
  • and it's still falling apart at the edges,
  • so just keep kneading until it becomes nice and smooth,
  • and then when you poke it, it springs back at ya'.
  • You know, you can really feel this in your wrist,
  • which is probably why Italian grandmas
  • have such strong hands.
  • (upbeat music)
  • Okay, we're gonna put it in a little ball now.
  • This is looking pretty smooth to me.
  • Now, we just gotta give it a little poke
  • and see if it springs back at us.
  • A doing!
  • So we're done with our dough.
  • Now we just have to let it rest for 30 minutes.
  • Good night, little dough.
  • When you wake up, things are gonna get weird.
  • Oh voila!
  • Wow, what a well-rested dough.
  • Now I'm gonna roll it out basically as flat as I can.
  • Dee dee.
  • Sorry, reflex.
  • We're gonna sprinkle a little flour on
  • to make sure it doesn't stick.
  • Wow.
  • It's gonna take a minute to get this thing flat.
  • (upbeat music)
  • Do a little of this.
  • This is a pro move.
  • I don't know if you guys have ever seen it.
  • It's called ow, my hands hurt.
  • (upbeat music)
  • Okay, that looks pretty good.
  • Let's check, and nope.
  • That is not thin enough.
  • We can get thinner than this.
  • Let's go.
  • (upbeat music)
  • So my cutting board is a little bit too small
  • for the depth and width I want to roll out,
  • so I'm actually just gonna trim some of the edges
  • and set the rest aside.
  • Great.
  • Now, let's just keep on rolling.
  • All right, let's take a look.
  • Whoo, this is looking like pasta.
  • This looks pretty dang thin to me, and it feels so good.
  • It's so fun to hold.
  • It's like holding flesh.
  • The next step is to cut our pasta
  • into squares three fingers long and wide
  • because it's a square.
  • Now I was pretty hesitant when it said
  • cut it into squares, because isn't lasagna like a rectangle?
  • But that's what the Latin said to do.
  • It's all Greek to me.
  • Oh, shoot!
  • I haven't measured.
  • Whew.
  • I'm sure you've noticed by now, rabid "Edible History" fans,
  • but this is not your standard tasty fare, okay?
  • And that's not them, that's me.
  • These lines look plenty straight.
  • We got our squares cut and ready to go,
  • so the next step is to boil them.
  • Wait, patience is a virtue.
  • We're gonna take our little pasta squares
  • and boil them in salted water
  • for about two to three minutes apiece.
  • Now I'm just gonna take out my tiny squares
  • and set them aside to cool
  • before I add all of my tasty goodness.
  • I am genuinely curious about how this is gonna work out.
  • Okay, here we are.
  • The home stretch.
  • So now, what we're gonna do is
  • we're gonna take our individual squares,
  • layer them with cheese, add some spices,
  • and just keep going until we feel like stopping,
  • or we run out.
  • One, two.
  • We'll be using goat cheese,
  • but we're also gonna be adding a little Parmesan
  • because it's my show and we can do whatever we want.
  • And also a little feta.
  • Let's see how these all taste together.
  • Now we're gonna add a little layer of clove.
  • And then place on top.
  • Because the steps are so vague,
  • I'm gonna add one spice at a time,
  • instead of putting all of the spices on every layer.
  • Ooh la la, it's looking like lasagna already.
  • (triumphant music)
  • Viola!
  • Now looking at this,
  • I'm gonna take a little bit of artistic liberty
  • and maybe just put a gentle sprinkle of feta
  • and Parmesan over it.
  • A little feta makes it better.
  • I'm very rustic with my plating, you know?
  • It gives it a little bit of that je ne sais quoi.
  • And pacha!
  • Last but not least,
  • we'll eat it exactly as the recipe tells us.
  • It says, "with a wooden stick."
  • Okay, so bon appetito.
  • This is pretty neato.
  • So I guess, I don't really know how,
  • if I'm supposed to flip it upside down and eat it?
  • Yeah, okay.
  • Wow.
  • I mean, let's be honest.
  • The wooden stick really works.
  • It pretty much holds it all together.
  • Cheers.
  • You know?
  • I don't know if I need this wooden stick,
  • but this is not bad.
  • It kind of tastes like arugula,
  • like a cheesy, noodley, cinnamon, cardamommy,
  • clovey dessert.
  • It's not the most balanced array of spices,
  • but honestly, I feel like with time and with practice,
  • this could turn our pretty good.
  • I would definitely want to bake it though.
  • I think that would just make it so much better.
  • Despite them looking and tasting so different,
  • I can really see how this later evolved to becoming
  • what we consider lasagna.
  • It goes to show that no matter how far back you go in time,
  • some dishes are just good.
  • Om.
  • Mmm!
  • I kind of dig it.
  • Who would have thunk?
  • What a tasty little thing.
  • Thanks so much for watching this episode
  • of "Edible History."
  • I, for one, am excited to see where our taste buds
  • take us next.

Download subtitle


“Ah, lasagna. It’s tasty, it’s filling… it’s dense. Why is it like this? Has it always been so dense?” Hannah Hart explores the 700-year-old origins of lasagna.

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