Pasta, Pizza, Risotto

Mamma’s Famous Roman Lasagna

Loreto December 7, 2016

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Mamma’s Famous Roman Lasagna, is not your typical lasagna with bechamel and ground meat ragu, but a delicious light layered ensemble of noodles with a blend of rich tomato ricotta sauce, Parmigiano, and mozzarella, plus minced mortadella, leaving its undeniable flavor.

Mom's famous Lasagna

[This post is sponsored by The Italian Centre Shop, we’ve been compensated but all opinions are our own.]

Mamma’s lasagna is really famous. At least among Nicoletta’s family, since it’s her mom’s recipe.  Now it has become a huge favorite in our family here in Edmonton, too, because we made it once and everyone loved it. It is the only lasagna we eat nowadays, as it is lighter and so rich in flavor, plus there is a battle over the crispy edges of the baked pasta.


How it all started

Nicoletta said it all started with her mom’s passion for ricotta and her prejudice against using butter. So, in order to replace the bechamel, but wanting to obtain that same creaminess, she thought of blending ricotta in the tomato sauce. And I have to tell you it makes for the creamiest sauce ever! Moreover, Nicoletta is not fond of ragu and tomato sauces with ground meat. That is why none in her family ever made ragu for her, but they made sure to have a simple tomato sauce for her pasta.

For this reason, when it came to making lasagna, her grandma and mom came out with this delicious and inventive use of the mortadella, to try and please everybody in the family. Minced and added to the layers with mozzarella and Parmigiano, gives the lasagna an oh-so-tasty flavor. The fact is, it melts into the pasta sheets, sauce, and mozzarella

A special dish for a special day

Let’s get into this wonderful dish, Mamma’s Famous Roman  Lasagna, that Nicoletta’s grandma and mom made, and I am truly grateful for. Christmas is always a special day and when that lasagna hits the table nothing but passion and gratefulness can be felt.

Mom's famous Lasagna

When The Italian Centre Shop asked us to do some Christmas recipes, I immediately thought of the lasagna.

The first time I tasted it I was going back for seconds and thirds. We were in Italy at the time, my son Joel and I, visiting  Nicoletta in our first years of courtship. It was a small town called Agosta, set in the side of a mountain, with multiple houses lingering on the cliffs of this majestic place. From Nicoletta’s mom and dad’s window you get a clear view of the lower town and rambling foothills, absolutely beautiful. Lunch was being prepared and Nicoletta’s mom, Tonina had made the lasagna sheets early that morning. Thin golden sheets of pure goodness made by hand with love and passion. My way of doing things. That is when I was brought into the family circle and the secret ingredient of mortadella, plus the ricotta in the sauce was revealed. Tonina said that when she does not have time to make the sfoglie (lasagna sheets), she uses the ones we found at the Italian Center Shop, made by DeCecco. 

Mom's famous Lasagna

Stages of Mamma’s Famous Roman Lasagna

  • Tomato/Ricotta Sauce
  • Pre-boil lasagna sheets
  • The layering of sheets, sauce, Parmigiano, mozzarella, and last but not least, minced mortadella
  • Top layer same as above,  but no mortadella, then oven

The sauce is simple: some olive oil in a pan, whole garlic pressed a bit to release the flavor, some great stewed tomatoes, in our case Mutti brand, which I would have to say is the best I have tasted thus far, and some fresh basil to work its magic. About 20 minutes on the stove till it begins to thicken, then turned off and after a bit, in goes the ricotta. The sauce will go from a red to a rosé and the look pure creamy bliss. This will add such a level of luxuriousness and richness.

Let’s build this lasagna

With all the other ingredients ready, mortadella minced, Parmigiano grated, fresh mozzarella chopped up, we are ready to get started on the construction of this Roman-style lasagna.

Now, there is no need to boil these sheets, they are oven-ready and do soften up. We boil them a bit because we like the lasagna moist in the layers and those top edges nice and golden and crisp. What we do is pop a few sheets at a time in the boiling water for a few minutes, then take them out and place them in a bowl of cold water. From there they go on a clean tea towel to dry off. This does take a bit of time, so if time is not on your side just use the oven ready method, but remember to put more sauce on the sheets as they will absorb quite a bit.

Okay, we are ready to assemble:

  • The first thing is to get some of that sauce on the bottom of a baking dish.
  • Next place a layer of the lasagna sheets covering the whole bottom of the dish.
  • Another layer of sauce goes on, then a sprinkling of Parmigiano and mozzarella, then the secret ingredient, minced mortadella.
  • The second layer of lasagna sheets will be put perpendicular to the first so remember which way you had the first layer. This will hold the lasagna together when you cut into it.
  • Repeat with the sauce, Parmigiano, mozzarella, and mortadella steps. Our lasagna is usually only four layers. It keeps the dish light and easy, plus the flavors are all present and not lost, and if you know Italian meals especially around Christmas there are more dishes to come.
  • The last layer I call it the topper, is just sauce, Parmigiano, and mozzarella. We like to keep that secret ingredient to Mamma’s Famous Roman Lasagna, just that, a secret hidden inside.

Mom's famous Lasagna

Into a nice 400° F oven and baked until everything is nice and golden on top, and you see those edges starting to crisp up. When it is done, take it out of the oven and let it sit a bit so it can set up and not fall apart when you cut into it. That setting time usually has everyone hovering over the lasagna waiting impatiently for it to be ready for serving. The next part is to chop up some fresh basil, sprinkling on top, and maybe for the absolute cheese lovers grate some more Parmigiano on top. Then, enjoy!

Mom's famous Lasagna

Christmas day and everyone is getting up a bit late except for the excited kids begging their parents to wake up as Santa has made his visit and presents are under the tree. In our family the smell of the sauce is in the air and lasagna is being prepared, people starting to arrive and a meal will be shared. The dish most waited for, this Roman lasagna.

The flavors

In the end, the flavors are incredible, the pasta al dente, tender, infused with that rich tomato ricotta sauce. The Parmigiano adding acidity and punch to the mix, while the fresh mozzarella is oozing with its creaminess and crispness reserved for the top layer. The mortadella with its Italian cured peppery moist flavor running through each ingredient like a velvet glove, deliciously flavoring each bite having people wonder what is that taste, and a lot of vocal admiration coming from the taste buds. The top gives us gifts of crispy pasta edges with that slight char flavor and in accompaniment with all the other golden goodness on the top has everyone wanting seconds and debating thirds. Be prepared, there may be a battle for the edge pieces.

Mom's famous Lasagna

From our family here at SugarLoveSpices to yours, wishing you a most joyous Christmas and New Year.


Song of the day: “Santa Claus is coming to Town”, by Michael Bublé, one of Nicoletta’s favorites.

Mom's famous Lasagna

Mamma’s Famous Roman Lasagna

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes


Tomato sauce:

  • 1 liter Mutti strained tomatoes (Passata)
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6 large fresh basil leaves
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  • 225 g ricotta cheese


  • 12 sheets De Cecco oven ready lasagna sheets
  • 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 250 g fresh Santa Lucia Mozzarella
  • 100 g San Daniele Mortadella


Tomato Sauce:

  1. In a deep sauce pan heat up olive oil and garlic.
  2. When garlic starts to sizzle throw in the basil leaves, and pour strained tomatoes in.
  3. Turn to low to medium heat, partially cover stirring occasionally.
  4. Cook for 25 minutes, take off heat.
  5. Let cool a bit then add the ricotta and stir until completely dissolved and you obtain a creamy tomato sauce.


  1. In a large pot of salted boiling water cook 4 lasagna sheets at a time for 4 minutes.
  2. When done lay out a clean kitchen towel and lay cooked sheets on to dry.
  3. Spread some of the tomato and ricotta sauce on the bottom of a 9″x 13″x 1 1/2″ oven safe baking dish, making sure bottom is well covered.
  4. Take three of the cooked lasagna sheets and lay next to each other covering the bottom of the baking dish.
  5. Spread some of the sauce covering the pasta sheets.
  6. Sprinkle some grated parnigiano.
  7. Toss on the mozzarella bits, and then the minced mortadella.
  8. Next layer the 4 lasagna sheets perpendicular to the last layer.
  9. Cut the sheets to fit the dish and stagger the joints.
  10. Repeat the sauce, parmigiano, mozzarella, mortadella layer.
  11. Place another layer of lasagna sheets, sauce, parmigiano, mozzarella, and mortadella.
  12. The last layer is all the same but no mortadella on this one, just sauce, parmigiano, mozzarella.
  13. So your layers will be 3 lasagna sheets, 4 sheets, 3 sheets, last layer 4 sheets.
  14. Pre heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  15. Place lasagna on the middle rack and cook for 30 minutes.
  16. After 30 minutes turn the oven to high grill for 2 minutes or until top gets crispy and cheese is a nice golden brown, and edges have crisped up.
  17. Remember to check the lasagna, as cook times may vary with different stoves.
  18. Take out of oven and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes to give it time to firm up a bit and pieces of lasagna will keep shape.
  19. Cut and serve.
  20. Enjoy!


If you don’t want to boil the lasagna sheets, you can assemble the lasagna with the dry sheets, but add more sauce as the sheets will absorb quite a bit. You may even want the sauce a bit thinner for the oven ready noodles.


  • Serving Size: 6 decent size servings
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Mom's famous Lasagna

We have a vegetarian white lasagna if that is more your thing:

Lasagna “Bianca” with asparagus, peas, and mushrooms

lasagna bianca with asparagus, peas and mushrooms

[This post is sponsored by The Italian Centre Shop, we’ve been compensated but all opinions are our own.]

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  • Avatar
    Reply Marisa December 7, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    I can only imagine how light and delicious your mamma’s famous Roman lasagna would be but I can say that it looks heavenly! We too in our family fight over the crispy edges and thankfully my mamma would make enough to satisfy everyone around. Your lasagna sounds like a definite must try 😊❤️

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto December 8, 2016 at 7:08 am

      Hi Marisa, That’s Italian moms always thinking not enough and making a lot, a blessing for us crispy edge lovers. My mom always cooks for 50 no matter what numbers are there. Thanks to Nicoletta’s mom and nonna we are blessed with this most amazing creation of lasagna. I love when you bite into a piece and that flavor of those crispy bits comes in and to be soothed by that rich tomatoey, mozzarelissimma, mortadella infused deliciousness. I can’t get enough of this dish and it doesn’t last long enough for left overs. Thank you for your lovely comment.
      Have a wonderful week.

  • Avatar
    Reply MDIVADOMESTICA December 7, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Beautiful layers of heaven! That is all one needs to say about this lasagna.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto December 8, 2016 at 7:03 am

      Yes short and sweet, a great way to describe this dish. Thank you.

  • Avatar
    Reply Ayngelina Brogan December 7, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    Why have I never thought to put mortadella in lasagna – amazing!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto December 8, 2016 at 7:02 am

      Hi Ayngelina, I know I thought that same way when I saw it being put in, what a fantastic way to elevate a lasagna. I have to say after making it this way and enjoying it, I find it is so light and so flavorful that I don’t think I would do it any other way except maybe white with spinach. Thanks a bunch for the comment.
      Happy Cooking

  • Avatar
    Reply Teresa December 8, 2016 at 3:18 am

    That sounds wonderful! I love seeing family traditions updated in ways everyone can enjoy.

    I also agree with you, eating lightly toward the carnivorous side of the food continuum and more richly toward the vegetable side is healthier and shows more respect for animals.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto December 8, 2016 at 6:58 am

      Thank you Teresa, for the wonderful comment, this is what food blogging is all about sharing traditions, recipes, ideas, not in a judgemental way just as a point of view to be taken or not.
      Have a wonderful day.

  • Avatar
    Reply Adina December 15, 2016 at 2:10 am

    It looks soooo good, I would love to have some right now. And I feel the same way about meat, I am not vegetarian, but I try to eat as little meat as possible and when I do, I make sure that the animals who’s meat I am eating had the best possible life.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto December 18, 2016 at 5:48 am

      Hi Adina
      Thank you for commenting. I believe it is so important to respect what goes into our mouths and always be grateful. These are rules I try to live by everyday. You are so right about this lasagna, I would even hjave some warmed up for breakfast., and that rule less is better really applies here.
      Have a wonderful week!

  • Avatar
    Reply Chery Ceman December 15, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    I’m a blog crazed person and i love to read cool blog like yours..”,,~

  • Avatar
    Reply karrie @ Tasty Ever After December 19, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    Loving this recipe and the story behind it. Showed it to the Hubby (who is a HUGE lasagna fan) and he said “Let’s make this ASAP!!” So guess we are making this over the holiday. lol! Thanks to you both and Nicoletta’s family for sharing the recipe 🙂

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto December 27, 2016 at 3:30 am

      Hi Karrie
      Thank you so much for your comment always love reading them. I think you are going to love this lasagna. it has so much flavor and texture. Can’t wait to hear how you made out. Have a wonderful Christmas season

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