Neapolitan Lasagna is a rich and succulent baked dish, typical of traditional Neapolitan sunday lunch, made with layers of durum wheat semolina noodles, stuffed with meat sauce (Neapolitan pork ragu), fried meatballs, ricotta, mozzarella and hard-boiled eggs.
This Italian recipe is different from Lasagna Bolognese recipe which is made with egg lasagna noodles, Bolognese sauce and Bechamel sauce.
Like any traditional recipe, there are several variations of Neapolitan Lasagna, depending on the area or the habits of the Italian families. Some recipes don’t want, for example, the addition of hard-boiled eggs. Some use other cheeses with mozzarella and ricotta.
There are even many interpretations about the meat sauce recipe. In fact, some mix beef and pork, others argue that this sauce should only be made with pork meat. Others disputes about the cuts of meat to use and so on.
However this here is the authentic Neapolitan Lasagna recipe, the one they usually make in Southern Italy. Try it, surely it’ll be a great success!
Try other traditional pasta recipes of southern Italy such as:
- Pasta alla Norma recipe
- Fish Lasagna
- Potato Gateau | Italian Mashed Potato Pie Recipe
Authentic Neapolitan Lasagna Recipe
- Prep Time: 40 Min
- Cook Time: 2H and 40 min
- Servings: 8
Doses for a 13×9 inch lasagna pan.
For the Meat Sauce
- 350 g (12,4 oz) of pork ribs
- 250 g (8,8 oz) of sausage
- 350 g (12,4 oz) of pork neck
- 100 ml of red wine
- 1 medium white onion
- 1,5 liter of tomato passata
- 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- fine salt to taste
- 400 g (about 0,90 / 1 lb) of the meat cooked in the sauce, well drained
- 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
- 2 whole medium eggs
- 100 g (3,5 oz) grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 100 g (3,5 oz) bread crumbs made with our recipe + more for breading the meatballs
- 1 liter of oil for frying
For the Filling
- 500 g (1,1 lb) of ricotta cheese
- 200 g ( 7 oz ) of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 400 g (14 oz) of hard mozzarella cheese
- 4 whole medium eggs
For Lasagna Noodles
- About 10 lasagna: you can make fresh homemade pasta/lasagna noodles following our step by step recipe
- Or you can buy authentic Italian flat lasagna, oven ready (no cooking or boiling necessary), made with durum wheat (we recommend Tuscanini brand).
First of all: Make the Pork Meat Sauce
Step 1) – To make Neapolitan Lasagna start with the preparation of the pork meat sauce. This preparation requires a lot of time. Fortunately, you can prepare it the day before. So Take the pork neck and the ribs and cut them into small pieces. Leave some meat on the bone, it will make the sauce tastier. Then remove the sausage skin. Put the meats and the sausage aside for the moment.
Step 2) – Now peel the onion and slice it finely. Sautè it in a large pan with the extra virgin olive oil for a few minutes. Then add the sausage and the meats. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes on medium heat, sometime stirring.
Step 3) – Now pour the red wine, let it evaporate and then add the tomato passata. Add salt to taste, stir and cover with a lid.
Step 4) – Let simmer over low heat for at least two hours. The sauce should not be too thick. If it seems to dry out too much during cooking, add a ladle or two of water. The sauce must be a little liquid to facilitate the cooking of the lasagna noodles afterwards. When ready, turn off the heat and let the pork meat sauce cool.
Then Make Small Meatballs for Neapolitan Lasagna
Step 5) – With a slotted spoon, take about 400 g (about 0,90 / 1 lb) of meat from the sauce, draining it very well from the tomato sauce. Place it in a bowl and add the grated Parmigiano, chopped parsley, 100 g (3,5 oz) of bread crumbs, two whole eggs.
Step 6) – Transfer the mixture in a food processor and finely mince, until homogeneous. With the mixture make small meatballs, no bigger than a hazelnut and bread them quickly in bread crumbs.
Step 7) – Fry the meatballs in plenty of oil. With a slotted spoon, remove the meatballs from the oil, drain well the excess oil, then put them on a plate and set aside.
The last Preparation for Making Neapolitan Lasagna: The Filling
Step 8) – Boil 4 eggs for 10 minutes. Remove the shells while they are still hot. Let them cool then cut into thin slices. Set aside. Cut the hard mozzarella cheese into thin slices as well and set aside.
Step 9) – Now place the ricotta in a bowl. Add two or three tablespoons of meat sauce and mix everything until you get a homogeneous reddish-cream.
Finally Get Together all the Preparations and Make Neapolitan Lasagna
Step 10) – Take a lasagna pan measuring about 13×9 inches and spread a little meat sauce on the bottom. Then place the first layer of lasagna noodles.
Step 11) – Cover the pasta sheets with the ricotta cream. Then place a few slices of hard-boiled egg, some fried meatballs and some slices of mozzarella.
Step 12) – Finally spread the meat sauce and sprinkle with the grated Parmigiano cheese. Cover with another layer of lasagna sheets.
Step 13) – Keep going with the layers until you run out of ingredients, taking care to make the final layer with only the sauce, mozzarella and grated Parmigiano.
Step 14) – Cover the pan with aluminum foil so that the top does not dry out too much. Bake in a preheated oven at 200 ° C (390 F) for about 25 minutes. Then remove the aluminum foil and keep cooking for another 5/10 minutes, depending on whether you like the surface more or less crunchy. Then take out the lasagna and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. Now enjoy your Neapolitan Lasagna!
You can keep Neapolitan Lasagna in the refrigerator, covered with cling film or in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
You can prepare it the day before, kept in the refrigerator covered with cling film to cook the next day.
It’s possible to freeze it only if you have used fresh ingredients. Prefer to freeze it when Neapolitan Lasagna is still raw. For cooking it, it’s sufficient to defrost in the refrigerator about 24 hours ahead of time and then bake.
Neapolitan lasagna is one of the richest dishes of Neapolitan cuisine. One of the culinary traditions that is the symbol of abundance and well-being in Italy.
Traditionally it’s a dish made during the Carnival period, to symbolize this time of prosperity, just before the one of penance typical of Lent.
Neapolitan Lasagna is also called “Carnival Lasagna” for the richness of the ingredients.
It’s considered perfect for celebrating the most enjoyable time of the year.
In Naples, Carnival lasagna is cooked all year round, but during the Carnival it cannot be missing on the table, as well as the delicious and famous “Chiacchiere” as dessert!
History of Neapolitan Lasagna
Neapolitan Lasagna recipe was born during the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Chefs of the Bourbon court used to make very rich and substantial dishes, as a symbol of wealth and well-being.
They created this recipe, placing between the layers of lasagna noodles many ingredients including meat, eggs, sauce and cheese.
It seems that Frencesco II, the last ruler of the Kingdom of the two Sicilies, was affectionately nicknamed “King Lasagna” by his father Ferdinand II, because he loved this dish so much!
Neapolitan Lasagna is therefore a delicacy of royal origins. Over time has become a typical recipe of the Italian traditional cuisine.