You don’t have to be Italian or a fat, orange cartoon cat to celebrate National Lasagna Day on July 29. Tomato sauce, cheeses, meat and vegetables — all separated by wide flat noodles — what’s not to love? Lasagna first showed up in Naples, Italy during the Middle Ages and made it to America in the nineteenth century. Since then, Americans have made it all their own. So this National Lasagna Day, head to your favorite Italian restaurant or pre-heat the oven and make your own.
When is National Lasagna Day 2021?
Indulge in the warm and cheesy layers of a rich and delicious lasagna on National Lasagna Day on July 29.
History of National Lasagna Day
The word ‘lasagna’ originated from ancient Greece. Essentially, the name stems from the word ‘laganon’ — the earliest form of pasta. Flattened sheets of dough sliced into thin strips were referred to as ‘laganon.’ Of course, the original form was very different from the assembled lasagna dish we enjoy today. Layers of pasta slathered with sauce were present but without the essential Italian ingredients. A similar dish was commonly prepared in ancient Rome, called ‘lasanum,’ which means pot or container in Latin. When referring to the food dish, Italians used the word for pot, which the meal was served in. So the word ‘lasagna’ actually comes from the method of cooking it and not the ingredients.
The process of mixing flour and water dates back to the Middle Ages, resulting in lasagna as a popular dish. In 1284, Salimbene di Adam described a chubby friar indulging in lasagna, saying, “I’ve never seen anyone stuffing himself on lasagna with cheese so pleasurably and so fully as him.”
The lasagna cooked in Northern Italy uses flat noodles, while the noodles used in Southern Italy are rippled. The ingredients Italians use in the recipe depend on their family’s tradition and heritage. This may be around the time cheese was incorporated into the recipe. Adding egg to the dough didn’t popularize until the Renaissance period.
Tomato made its appearance in the recipe in Naples in the 1880s. Layering lasagna became trendy in the 19th century, thanks to Francesco Zambrini from Bologna. Also in the late 1800s, Italian immigrants brought their recipes, featuring béchamel, ragù, and Parmigiano-Reggiano to America. The meat sauce was tweaked according to preference, while others added vegetables to the layers.
National Lasagna Day timeline
The first recipe book to feature lasagna is published in Italy.
Italian immigrants bring lasagna to the United States.
Ronzoni introduces no-boil lasagna noodles to American supermarkets.
Poland-based Magillo Restaurant and Macro Supermarket create the largest lasagna, weighing 4,865 kg.
Traditions of the Day
National Lasagna Day is the perfect opportunity for everyone to indulge in the Italian pasta dish, heaped with a meaty sauce and ooey-gooey cheese between the layers. Lasagna has become the pinnacle of Italian-American cuisine and an Italian menu would be incomplete without it.
Cooking and baking lasagna IS a tradition. Families bond over this dish with stories of first attempts and perfecting the pasta, sharing the family recipe and secret ingredients with the next generation, and then digging into the mountain of meaty goodness over a bottle of wine and hearty laughter. Having lasagna cook-offs, followed by tasting and comparing the final dishes is also a fun way to celebrate the day. If cooking is not your thing, many people dine at their favorite Italian restaurants.
National Lasagna Day FAQs
Is lasagna really unhealthy?
The comfort of the warm cheesy layers of lasagna is otherworldly, but too much of a good thing never bodes well. Featuring white noodles packed with gobs of cheese and fatty meat, you may want to watch out for all those extra calories.
Why is lasagna important to Italy?
Lasagna is very personal to Italians. It represents Italian culture and has been a staple in Italian families for a long time. Everyone can bond over this meal, regardless of whether or not they know each other.
What is the most unhealthy pasta?
This depends on the ingredients and how much of each ingredient is being used. With its hearty meat sauce, spaghetti bolognese may be the unhealthiest pasta dish.
National Lasagna Day Activities
Try a new recipe
Since there are so many different options for cooking lasagna, you should have little problem finding a great new recipe. If you want to try a lasagna with meatballs or even straight up vegetarian, you’ll easily find recipes for both. You may end up finding a new variety that you like even better than grandma’s. (Just don’t tell her.)
Search for "Garfield" lasagna references
Pick up a few Garfield comic books and enjoy watching him scarf down pan after pan of lasagna. You’re sure to find a few laughs — even if it’s Monday.
If making lasagna at home is a little more than you want to tackle, consider traveling to a nearby Italian restaurant. Chances are these restaurants will offer more than one type, giving you a chance to try something new. Or, the restaurant may have a classic recipe that perfects this classic Italian dish.
Take the National Lasagna Day Quiz
5 Saucy Facts About Lasagna
Lasagna didn’t originally refer to food
‘Lasagna’ originally referred to the pot in which it was cooked.
You can cook lasagna in a dishwasher!
It sounds crazy, but all you have to do is assemble the ingredients, secure the container tightly with aluminum foil, then use the heated dry cycle on your dishwashing machine to cook the lasagna.
Garfield loves it
The most famous fact of lasagna lore is that it is Garfield the cat’s favorite food.
It has a catchy tune
Weird Al Yankovic parodied the song ‘La Bamba,’ with his single ‘Lasagna.’
World’s most expensive lasagna
The ‘Diamond and Gold’ lasagna served at the Mirage in Las Vegas sells for $100 a slice.
Why We Love National Lasagna Day
It's gooey and delicious
Lasagna is a mess to make and a mess to eat — and that’s part of the reason it’s so great. So many times when preparing and enjoying food, people make too much out of the way it looks. But lasagna naturally spreads out when it’s free from the pan, with layers going everywhere. So don’t be neat and tidy on National Lasagna Day. Just have a napkin handy.
There are lots of varieties
There’s more than one way to make lasagna. Many people have their own family favorite recipes passed down from grandma that still taste great today. But your favorite recipe might not be anything like your neighbor’s. That's why this food is never boring.
"Lasagna — nature's perfect food," says Garfield, the beloved cartoon cat created by Jim Davis. Who can look at a pan of lasagna without envisioning that beloved ginger cat scarfing it down with both paws?
National Lasagna Day dates