Potatoes, cheese, breadcrumbs. Sometimes that's all it takes to be happy. Lasagne di patate was my grandmother's favourite dish, and even we children could never get enough of it. The simple recipe has been passed down in our family for generations.
My grandmother Nina was a very practical woman. Maybe that's why she loved shortcuts. Also in the kitchen. So why would she make fresh pasta for a lasagne when the garden gave her wonderful potatoes? Grandmother's lasagna di patate e was legendary in the family. And it tasted different every time: sometimes there was prosciutto cotto between the root and cheese layers, sometimes aubergines, courgettes or mushrooms she had gathered herself. Depending on the mood, vegetables and mushrooms were fried beforehand, baked in the oven or breaded. My favourite? Definitely the version with lamb ragout, sheep ricotta, lots of thyme and pecorino. I still love this lasagne today.
Potatoes in your mouth
Potatoes have only been on our menus for a few hundred years. Nevertheless, the versatile tuber has given rise to a number of idioms – not only in Italy. However, the root itself does not come off so well: if someone speaks unclearly, they are talking „with a potato in their mouth“. In Italy, someone who talks in a less entertaining and funny way has a potato spirit (spirito di patata). If a problem is so delicate that no one wants to tackle it, we are dealing with a hot potato. And some figures and clothes are more reminiscent of a sack of potatoes. So it's high time we raised the root's profile again – at least in the kitchen!
Grandmother’s Potatoes Lasagne
- 1 kg potatoes
- 250 g cheese, goat’s cheese alternatively: Scamorza or Mozzarella
- 100 g Parmesan, alternatively: Grana or Pecorino
- 50 g breadcrumbs
- 1 clove garlic
- olive oil, extra virgin
- Heat some olive oil in a coated pan. Fry the breadcrumbs with two pinches of salt until golden brown. Fry the chopped garlic separately in oil until it is fragrant and mix it with the finely chopped thyme into the breadcrumbs.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180° C (upper and lower heat). Peel the potatoes and cut into thin slices. Coarsely grate the goat's cheese or cut into very thin slices. Finely grate the Parmesan.
- Place the potato slices close together on the bottom of a greased baking dish (approx. 18 x 25 cm). Place layers of the goat's cheese, the breadcrumb mixture and Parmesan on top. Season with (a little!) salt and pepper to taste. Then start again with a layer of potatoes. The lasagne should be finished off with a layer of potatoes on top. And you should still have some goat's cheese and parmesan on the side for the topping.
- Bake the potato lasagne for around 50 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 180°C. Then cover with goat's cheese and Parmesan and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown.