If I'm ever in need of a comforting dinner, a giant plate of classic lasagna will automatically put me in my happy place. So you can imagine my surprise when I very recently realized I (along with most Americans) have apparently been spelling my favorite Italian dish wrong my entire life. Recently, Google Trends reported "lasagne" saw a nearly 200% increase in searches within the United States. I'd seen the spelling with an "e" before but admittingly didn't think about whether it was the same recipe or why it's spelled two ways. Until now. After doing a little research and hearing from a food historian, I finally got some answers on lasagna vs. lasagne.
Lasagna or Lasagne?
Just searching "lasagne" on Google will automatically include results for lasagna, so I went to the trusty dictionary. Merriam-Webster's definition states it's "less commonly lasagne: pasta in the form of broad often ruffled ribbons." It also means the cheesy-tomato casserole dish you know and love. Oh, and the pronunciation buttons also sound the same for both spellings. Still confused? Same here. According to Katherine Spiers, food historian and host of the Smart Mouth podcast, the "a" ending of lasagna in Italian is a singular lasagna noodle. Lasagne with an "e" ending makes it plural.
"It's funny that in the United States we use the singular version because we do not say 'linguino' or 'spaghetto,'" Spiers says. "I believe lasagna is the one pasta dish we use the wrong form for."
Spiers also pointed out we mess up Italian in the other direction, too. Take Italian-pressed sandwiches (aka panini in the U.S.), for example. "If you ordered panini in Italy, you'd get multiple sandwiches," she says. "One sandwich is a 'panino,' but we never use that form here."
So basically no matter how it's spelled on the menu, you can rest easy knowing you'll find yourself with the steaming pasta dish rather than just a singular noodle. It is interesting to know the rest of the English-speaking world outside of our borders will spell it lasagne.
Now, the way you make your homemade lasagna and whether it's authentic Italian is another story in itself. Does it have ricotta or béchamel? Boiled or no-boil noodles? We've got quite a few creative takes on lasagna recipes if you happen to be craving it now. Or you can take a shot and make homemade noodles for your grandma's recipe.