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Rich pasta bake from the South of Italy

I have already told you that my big, noisy, lively and warm family comes – as regards my father branch – from Lucania, in the South of Italy: Grandpa Biagio, in fact, was born in Rapolla (PZ) and raised in Melfi, where still live many uncles, aunts and cousins. A branch of the family lives since many years here in the province of Siena, and I think I can adfirm, without doing an injustice to anyone, that Aunt Teresa is the most representative example of the cuisine from Melfi in Tuscany.

sagn' a lu forn

In the early decades of the twentieth century my family had a small restaurant, the Trattoria Giardino, in Melfi. The owner was Felice Scarpaleggia, the grandfather – and namesake – of my father. It was in the market square, just below the Bank of Naples, and often in my uncles’ stories you can find traces of memories of those times. The only tangible sign that remains today are two dishes that still bear designed the logo of the restaurant, which are carefully preserved in the display case with the Chinese cups from my great-grandparents.To make the photos I had to make an application on stamped paper. Do you see the restaurant in the lower right corner of the picture?


Sàgn’ a lu’ fuòrn’ – Rich pasta bake from the South of Italy

sagn' a lu forn
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Rich pasta bake

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian



  • 300 g of fresh lasagne pasta
  • smoked scamorza, a kind of cheese, firm and savoury
  • grated 'Pecorino' cheese
  • spicy sausage
  • 2 boiled eggs
  • butter

Tomato sauce ingredients:

  • 1 l tomato sauce
  • 1 red onion
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • basil
  • 1 braciolina, I mean a slice of veal to be cooked in tomato, wrapped in on itself and tied with twine, filled only with salt and rosemary or even with an omelette and ham

Small meat balls:

  • 200 g veal mince meat
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 large tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 3 large tablespoons grated 'Pecorino' cheese
  • parsley
  • flour
  • salt
  • olive oli to fry


  • Let's begin with tomato sauce: it will take about 3 hours so it's good to take a whole afternoon of time and have patience! Chop finely onion and sautée  in extra virgin olive oil. Add meat and brown it on each side, then pour in the tomato sauce and cook over low heat for about two hours. Check frequently the tomato sauce: let it cook slowly, adding a bit of water to help cook - if needed.
  • Now is the time to make meatballs. Combine in a bowl mincemeat, garlic and chopped parsley, bread crumbs, cheese, salt, pepper and eggs. Mix well with a fork and shape small balls with your hands, slightly larger than a pea, flour them and fry in hot olive oil: remove them from the pan when they are golden and let them to dry on a sheet of towel paper.
  • At this point, about two hours have passed since the tomato sauce is cooking: remove the meat and add meatballs: let them simmer in the sauce for another hour. If you want, you can slice the meat andeat with pickles, says Aunt Teresa!
  • Now it's time to make lasagna: pour a few tablespoons of tomato sauce and meatballs on the bottom of a baking dish, make one layer of pasta sheet, then sliced boiled eggs and more sauce and meatballs again. This time add the slices of spicy sausage, sauce and meatballs, lasagne sheet and sliced smoked scamorza. Keep on making layers with your ingredients. Usually they make 4 or 5 layers, at least! It should be pretty high and rich!
  • Cover with grated cheese, tomato sauce and meat balls and a few knobs of butter. Cook in hot oven at 200 °C for about 40 minutes, until top is golden, brown and crispy.
Tried this recipe?We love to see your creations! Snap a pic and tag @julskitchen and hashtag it #myseasonaltable!

I find it hard to call this recipe a first course, given the rich harmony of flavors and ingredients, but actually during our family lunches, this is a first course, followed by second course and side dishes and desserts… so welcome once again in my family.

sagn' a lu forn 

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This Post Has 9 Comments
  1. Hi
    This looks awesome
    I have a few questions about how you make this, for the past two years I make my own birthday meal and I have been making meatballs and spaghetti, this year I wanted something different and your recipe caught my eye.

    In your ingredients list you call for burro. What is that and it isn’t listed in the making of the lasagna. Also more info on the braciolina, how big of a slice how much salt and rosemary, (fresh or dried) ? And do you brown and drain or just dump tomatoes in on top? And its sole purpose is to just cook in the tomato sauce? It is not used in the laying of the lasagna?

    Thank you so much for sharing

  2. Hi Micheal, here I am at your disposal!
    Sorry for ‘burro’, it’s a mistake! It is butter in italian! ah ah ah and you don’t need it!
    As for braciolina, you can use 500 gr of meat, or even less, as it is used to flavour tomato sauce, then you can choose to eat it or not. You can use either fresh or dried rosemary (altough fresh is better). Let’s say you can use 2 teaspoons of salt and 4 teaspoons of rosemary, mix it and brush one side of the veal slice, then wrap the slice on itself and tide with twine. You brown meat on each side, then pour tomatoes on top, an let it cook all together. You don’t use it into the lasagna, but it can be a delicious second course!
    Just let me know if you have further doubts! Have a wonderful day and a joyful birthday!

  3. Sorry for not getting back sooner. The lasagna was a hit, even members of my family that don’t like lasagna (who doesn’t like lasagna?) loved it. The best the ever had, were their words. I really enjoyed it also the sauce was great. I had a hard time trying to make the veal meatballs pea size mine were more like marbles. And I live in a smallish town in Tennessee so finding Scarmoza was impossible. I had to substitute, I won’t embarrass myself with what I choose to do but it turned out really good.

    Thanks again

  4. I have a colleague from the South of Italy, she made us once a very similar lasagne for a party. It was 20-30 people – so we were rolling those meatrballs for hours! We had to fill 3 or 4 big baking pans and we had like a bucket of tomato sauce. : )
    The differences were the following: she baked the meat balls in the oven instead of frying them, and she used ricotta, mozzarella and grated hard cheese (pecorino or parmigiano, I cannot exactly recall) for the layers, not the smoked cheese you recommend. I was rather surprised (to be honest a bit untrusting) about the ricotta but the lasagne tasted really great at the end.

    1. I can perfectly imagine how much work it required to roll all those meatballs. It’s a perfect moment to chat and laugh in the kitchen, isn’t it?
      I’ll try to use ricotta next time, it sounds divine! Happy new year!

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