Lasagne is one of the richest dishes in the Italian repertory, but it need not, indeed it ought not, ever be cumbersome. It is too often, in its transplanted versions, overloaded with an ill-matching combination of cheeses, vegetables, sausages, and meat. The key to successful lasagne is deftness, using the solid pasta strips as a base for a simple composition of ingredients that evoke the spirit of the season. In Italy, in the spring, one might use young, purple artichokes; in the fall, wild mushrooms; in the winter, a warmly nourishing Bolognese sauce. The recipe given here could be a parting salute to summer, a celebration of the ripeness of tomato and the poignancy of fresh basil.
Lasagne must be homemade to achieve the fine harmony of layer after delicate layer of pasta fused to its condiments. Of course one can make lasagne, as I am sure many will, utilizing packaged pasta from the supermarket. But those who do will have missed the point, as well as the pleasure.
© 1986 Marcella Hazan estate. All rights reserved.