Lasagna Napoletana Recipe

by vitus
Lasagna Napoletana

Lasagna. The very word conjures up images of cheesy goodness, bubbling tomato sauce, and comforting layers of pasta. But have you ever experienced the magic of Lasagna Napoletana? This isn’t your average weeknight casserole; it’s a symphony of flavors, a celebration of Neapolitan cuisine, and a dish that will leave you wanting more. As a passionate home cook, I’m always on the quest for the ultimate version. And let me tell you, Lasagna Napoletana stands out from the crowd. It’s more than just a combination of ingredients – it’s a cultural experience on a plate.

What Is Lasagna Napoletana?

Lasagna Napoletana is a traditional Italian dish originating from the Naples region of Italy. It’s a variation of classic lasagna that typically includes ingredients such as ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, Italian sausage, and sometimes hard-boiled eggs.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds pork spare ribs, cut into chunks
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 12 garlic cloves, minced (divided)
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Dried oregano
  • White wine
  • Canned peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • Parmesan rind
  • Fresh basil
  • Ground pork
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Egg
  • Parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lasagna noodles (enough for a baking dish, consider the no-boil option)
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese, sliced or cubed (fresh fior di latte is ideal)
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
  • Hard-boiled eggs (optional)

Instructions:

Make the Ragù Napoletano:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Season the pork ribs with salt and pepper and brown them on all sides. Remove the ribs and set aside.
  2. Sauté the onion in the remaining oil until softened. Add half the garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. (Optional) Add a pinch of red pepper flakes for a touch of heat.
  4. Stir in the oregano and cook for 30 seconds.
  5. Deglaze the pan with white wine, scraping up any browned bits.
  6. Add the crushed tomatoes, Parmesan rind, and basil, and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Return the browned pork ribs to the pot, simmer, and cover partially. Cook for 2-3 hours or until the meat is tender, stirring occasionally.
  8. Remove the pork ribs and shred the meat with two forks. Discard the Parmesan rind and basil.

Make the Meatballs (Optional):

  1. While the ragù simmers, combine ground pork, breadcrumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pecorino romano, egg, and chopped parsley in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well.
  2. Roll the mixture into small balls (about 1-inch diameter).
  3. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Fry the meatballs in batches until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Assemble the Lasagna:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Lightly grease a baking dish.
  2. If using regular lasagna noodles, cook them according to package directions until al dente. Drain and lay them flat on a clean kitchen towel.
  3. Combine ricotta cheese with some of the ragù (about 1 1/2 cups) in a separate bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Spread a thin layer of ragù on the bottom of the baking dish. Top with a layer of lasagna noodles.
  5. Spread a layer of the ricotta mixture over the noodles.
  6. (Optional) Arrange a layer of cooked meatballs on top of the ricotta.
  7. Scatter some sliced or cubed mozzarella over the meatballs.
  8. Repeat the layering process with ragù, noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, and (if using) hard-boiled egg slices.
  9. Finish with a layer of ragù and sprinkle with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Bake and Serve:

  1. Cover the baking dish loosely with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until the lasagna is bubbly and the top is golden brown.
  3. Let the lasagna rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Tips:

  • For a richer flavour, use a combination of ground pork and ground sausage in the ragù.
  • Leftover cooked chicken can be substituted for the meatballs.
  • Fresh lasagna noodles will create the most authentic texture, but no-boil noodles can be used for convenience. If using no-boil noodles, soak them in warm water for 30 minutes before.

What To Serve With

  • A simple green salad: Opt for a mix of fresh greens like romaine, arugula, and spinach. Dress it with a light vinaigrette with a touch of lemon or balsamic vinegar. This will help cleanse the palate between bites of lasagna.
  • Marinated vegetables: Marinated artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and cherry tomatoes add a burst of flavor and acidity. You can use a simple Italian dressing or a store-bought marinade.
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts: Roasting brings out the sweetness of Brussels sprouts. Toss them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a touch of balsamic vinegar for a delicious and healthy side.
  • Sautéed green beans: Green beans are another quick and easy side dish. Sauté them with garlic, olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon juice for a flavorful accompaniment.
  • Garlic bread: This is a classic pairing for lasagna. Make garlic bread with a crusty baguette, good-quality butter, fresh garlic, and herbs.
  • Dinner rolls: Warm dinner rolls are another great option for soaking up the lasagna sauce. Look for a bakery that sells fresh Italian bread.
  • Caprese salad: This classic salad features sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It’s a light and refreshing way to start the meal.
  • Minestrone soup: Minestrone is a hearty Italian soup made with vegetables, beans, and pasta. It’s a great way to round out the meal, especially on a cooler day.
  • A glass of red wine: A full-bodied red wine like Chianti or Barbera will pair well with the lasagna’s rich flavours.
  • Fresh herbs: Sprinkle some fresh chopped parsley or basil over your lasagna before serving for an extra flavour.

Health Benefits:

  • Tomato Sauce: Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant linked to reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
  • Cheese: Cheeses like mozzarella and ricotta provide calcium for strong bones and teeth.
  • Vegetables: If your lasagna includes vegetables like spinach or peppers, you’ll get a boost of vitamins and minerals.
  • Whole Wheat Pasta: Opting for whole wheat lasagna noodles increases fibre intake, which aids digestion and promotes gut health.
  • Fat and Calories: Lasagna is often high in fat and calories due to cheese, meat sauce, and butter.
  • Saturated Fat: Meat sauce and cheese can be significant sources of saturated fat, raising bad cholesterol levels and increasing heart disease risk if consumed excessively.
  • Sodium: Lasagna can be high in sodium, depending on the ingredients used.

Final Thoughts

Lasagna Napoletana stands as a testament to the rich culinary heritage of Naples and the broader Italian cuisine. This beloved dish embodies the essence of comfort food with its layers of tender pasta, flavorful tomato sauce, creamy ricotta cheese, and savoury Italian sausage. Whether enjoyed as a hearty family meal or served at a festive gathering, Lasagna Napoletana never fails to delight the taste buds and warm the soul.

More Meat Recipes:

Lasagna Napoletana

Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )
Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time: Nutrition facts: 844 calories 57 grams fat

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds pork spare ribs, cut into chunks
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 12 garlic cloves, minced (divided)
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Dried oregano
  • White wine
  • Canned peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • Parmesan rind
  • Fresh basil
  • Ground pork
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Egg
  • Parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lasagna noodles (enough for a baking dish, consider the no-boil option)
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese, sliced or cubed (fresh fior di latte is ideal)
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
  • Hard-boiled eggs (optional)

Instructions

  1. Make the Ragù Napoletano:

    • Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Season the pork ribs with salt and pepper and brown them on all sides. Remove the ribs and set aside.
    • Sauté the onion in the remaining oil until softened. Add half the garlic and cook for another minute.
    • (Optional) Add a pinch of red pepper flakes for a touch of heat.
    • Stir in the oregano and cook for 30 seconds.
    • Deglaze the pan with white wine, scraping up any browned bits.
    • Add the crushed tomatoes, Parmesan rind, and basil, and season with salt and pepper.
    • Return the browned pork ribs to the pot, simmer, and cover partially. Cook for 2-3 hours or until the meat is tender, stirring occasionally.
    • Remove the pork ribs and shred the meat with two forks. Discard the Parmesan rind and basil.

  2. Make the Meatballs (Optional):

    • While the ragù simmers, combine ground pork, breadcrumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pecorino romano, egg, and chopped parsley in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well.
    • Roll the mixture into small balls (about 1-inch diameter).
    • Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Fry the meatballs in batches until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

  3. Assemble the Lasagna:

    • Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Lightly grease a baking dish.
    • If using regular lasagna noodles, cook them according to package directions until al dente. Drain and lay them flat on a clean kitchen towel.
    • Combine ricotta cheese with some of the ragù (about 1 1/2 cups) in a separate bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
    • Spread a thin layer of ragù on the bottom of the baking dish. Top with a layer of lasagna noodles.
    • Spread a layer of the ricotta mixture over the noodles.
    • (Optional) Arrange a layer of cooked meatballs on top of the ricotta.
    • Scatter some sliced or cubed mozzarella over the meatballs.
    • Repeat the layering process with ragù, noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, and (if using) hard-boiled egg slices.
    • Finish with a layer of ragù and sprinkle with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

  4. Bake and Serve:

    • Cover the baking dish loosely with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
    • Remove the foil and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until the lasagna is bubbly and the top is golden brown.
    • Let the lasagna rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

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