Why the fan-favorite dish is surging on menus.
National Lasagna Day will be celebrated on July 29. There is plenty to celebrate: The pasta, and dish, is a fan favorite amongst chefs and diners alike. Datassential reports that lasagna is now the second most popular variety of pasta on menus and the third-most-popular type of pasta dish.
Diners seem to love the dish for its comforting, traditional blend of pasta, ricotta, and meat sauce—that classic version of the dish is an American adaptation of Lasagna Bolognese, which was a traditional celebratory dish made in winters in Bologna. Even within Italy, however, there are many other takes on lasagna, exhibiting its versatility—that’s something increasingly being unlocked on American menus, too.
Lasagna is a chef favorite because of how simple it can be to prep ahead of time. With 62 percent of operators reporting they do not have enough staff to meet demand, according to the National Restaurant Association, the low-labor nature of lasagna simplifies kitchen operations.
“Finding and retaining qualified kitchen staff continues to be a huge challenge, especially when it comes to line execution and complex pan work,” says Chef Michael Slavin, vice president of culinary and menu innovation at Houlihan’s Restaurants, Inc. “Lasagna and other baked pastas allow for the intricate work to be performed in the prep kitchen. That makes for a faster line, even with less proficient cooks.”
Barilla Lasagne Chef sheets are an ideal tool for chefs looking to capitalize on the ongoing lasagna trend—they fit perfectly inside a traditional hotel pan and come ready to be popped into the oven, no boiling necessary. Chef Slavin recently usezd the Barilla Lasagne Chef sheets to build a Carbonara Lasagna, uniting two of the biggest pasta trends in a single sumptuous dish.
“The inspiration for my Carbonara Lasagna was my love for both pasta applications,” Slavin says. “And also the realization that I hadn’t really seen a rendition of a lasagna that played off the spirit of the venerable carbonara.”
In order to represent the richness of the egg yolk necessary for a true carbonara dish, Slavin brushed Barilla Lasagne Chef sheets with a seasoned egg yolk and cheese mixture, giving it two minutes to bake-to-set, before building in the other traditional carbonara elements: roasted bacon, Romano cheese, salted pasta water, and a touch of cream. Slavin’s Carbonara Lasagna is something just about any diner would love—and something just about any kitchen can execute.
“By skipping the first stage where you boil and shock the pasta, you speed up the process,” Slavin says. “But you also remove all of the variability with under or overcooking. A convection oven is a great tool for finishing the dish, giving the kitchen very stable and predictable results.”
For more on tackling the trend, visit barillafs.com/lasagne.