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A form of flat pasta, which can be bought dried of fresh – or alternatively made at home. It's sometimes coloured with spinach or tomato purée and designed to be made into a baked gratin dish consisting of layers of flat pasta sandwiched between a moist filling.

In Italy, its spiritual home, traditional fillings vary from region to region. These might consist of vegetables (perhaps globe artichoke bottoms), fish or meat; but Bolognese sauce is popular throughout Italy. The whole is then baked often covered with a tomato or white sauce.

The has been some light-hearted discussion about its origins, as a recipe for 'loseyns' (pronounced lasan at the time), appears in one of the world's first cookery books – 'The Forme of Cury' kept at the British Museum and published in England during the 14th century, during the reign of Richard 11. The recipe doesn't mention meat, and tomatoes hadn't yet arrived from the Americas' – but it does describe making a base of pasta and laying cheese over the top.

Researches say that pasta faded from the British diet when potatoes arrived.

It is of course possible that this flat form of pasta was introduced into Britain by the Romans. For recipes, see our Recipe Section.

If you enjoy cooking take a minute to look at ‘Simon Scrutton French Cookery Classes’ on Google – and learn how to make top class bistro-style dishes. Suitable for beginners upwards. Small classes.

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