Pasticcio and lasagna are two very similar dishes which have slight differences. The world of pasta and pasta-based dishes is an exciting world to rival the variety found in the oceans and forests. While the two dishes have great similarities between them we can also draw differences between them to distinguish them. To do this effectively let us first define each dish in as much detail as we can.
Lasagna (plural lasagne) is a baked pasta dish that uses thin sheets of pasta that are flat or ridged layered with meat or vegetable-based sauce and cheese. Cheese commonly used in lasagne are mozzarella, ricotta , parmesan and cheddar. Lasagna is a very common dish and more well known to the world than its contemporary. While the Emilia Romagna region of Italy is credited with the creation of lasagna as we know it, lasagna’s true origin is believed to be Greek. The name lasagna was derived from the Greek word leganon which is widely believed to be the first known form of pasta.
Pasticcio, like lasagne, is a baked pasta dish. Pasticcio is made using maccaroni noodles instead of the flat thin sheets that are used in lasagne. Pasticcio is, in fact, the broad name for pasta dishes that use the layering technique that we associate with lasagna. So technically speaking lasagna is a type of pasticcio. Pasticcio is a pasta al forno dish meaning baked pasta. Pasticcio is also credited with being of Greek origin, known in Greek as Pastitsio. A pasticcio is essentially a form of baked pasta pie. With both lasagna and pasticcio defined we can draw comparisons.
The easiest way to distinguish between the two is, of course, the pasta used in the dishes. Lasagna uses flat or ridged sheets of the same name as the dish. These are layered with a sauce and cheese between them. Pasticcio uses the macaroni noodles which are short tubes cut straight at the ends with a bit of a curve in their shape. In traditional pasticcio recipes, it is commonplace to use long ziti noodles. These are similar in shape and diameter to the traditional ziti and maccaroni noodles but much longer ranging from 25 to 30 centimetres. The maccaroni or ziti noodles are layered the same way as the lasagna sheets and a sauce is placed between the layers accompanied by cheese and traditionally topped with cheese.
Origins : Pasticcio Vs Lasagna
As we have established already while the idea behind lasagna is not from Italy the particular expression that led to the lasagna recipe is distinctly Italian. The first recorded recipe for lasagna dates back to the early 14th century though it was a very different recipe. It originated from Napoli (Naples) in the Emilia Romagna region in the South of the country. The recipe has gradually changed over time to become what we know today. Pasticcio, on the other hand, has more than one origin and the different versions of the recipe exist in Greece, Turkey and Cyprus the oldest known recipe is believed to be the Greek one.
Recipes : Pasticcio Vs Lasagna
Pasticcio is a meat-based recipe in its tradition. Traditional Greek pasticcio features a ground beef or pork-based sauce that is cooked with flavours of nutmeg, bay leaves, tomato paste and tomato passata (an uncooked strained tomato puree). This gives pasticcio a wider range of flavours. Lasagne, on the other hand, has a much simpler traditional recipe that features onion, garlic, ground beef and a tomato-based sauce. Both feature a cheese sauce but use very different cheeses in the cooking process.
Traditional lasagna uses cheddar and parmesan cheese. These are cheeses with very bold flavours that stick out in any recipe and are hard to miss. They both have bitterness with mature cheddar being the more bitter of the two while parmesan has a salty tang to its flavour. Traditional pasticcio uses completely different cheeses in its cheese sauce. Kefalotyri is the recommended cheese in a traditional pasticcio with Manchego and Romano Pecorino recommended as alternatives. Kefalotyri or kefalotiri is a hard, salty white cheese made from sheep milk or goat’s milk in Greece and Cyprus. A similar cheese Kefalograviera, also made from sheep or goat milk, is sometimes sold outside Greece and Cyprus as Kefalotyri.
Cooking And Baking
Lasagna is cooked in 4 stages. Firstly the lasagna sheets are cooked by boiling, sometimes in a broth then cooled. Secondly, the sauce that accompanies the pasta is cooked. Traditional lasagna also includes a cheese sauce which is cooked and finally, the cooked ingredients are layered then baked. In traditional pasticcio, the same four steps are evident in the cooking process. The noodles are cooked and cooled and the sauce is made separately. A cheese sauce is also made separately and the ingredients are finally layered then baked.
The Layers : Pasticcio Vs Lasagna
When making lasagna it is customary to have multiple layers. A good lasagna has at the very least 3 sets of layers of cheese sauce, pasta and sauce. This gives lasagna a through and through consistency of the flavours involved and enables those eating it to consume it layer by layer or in sections cut vertically. Pasticcio is generally made with 3 layers. A bottom layer of pasta noodles, sometimes bound with egg, a middle layer of sauce that can sometimes be mixed with cheese sauce and another layer of the pasta noodles this time covered with cheese. This makes it difficult to eat pasticcio layer by layer and only tastes best when eaten in vertically cut sections.
The final element through which we can compare pasticcio and lasagna are the herbs used in flavouring the two dishes. Lasagna tends to be finished with a sprinkling of oregano which is a powerful aromatic herb that completely takes over any recipe it is involved in but blends very well with tomato sauces. Fennel, thyme and marjoram are also included in more contemporary lasagna recipes. Pasticcio, on the other hand, has its herbs cooked into the sauce using milder herbs such as bay leaves, cinnamon and nutmeg. These are much milder flavours that blend well with red wine included in contemporary pasticcio recipes.
While the term pasticcio generally refers to oven-baked pasta pies and thus includes lasagna, the recipe associated with the name pasticcio uses pasta noodles such as maccaroni and ziti. Lasagna uses flat or ridged sheets of pasta.