About a year ago, Italian restaurateur Gilberto Argini came up with the idea of a lasagna kit: a package containing all the ingredients necessary to make an authentic lasagna alla bolognese dish at home.
As a born-and-bred Bolognese, I found the idea of a ready kit for one of our best and most renown regional dishes a little strange. Used to fresh homemade pasta and to my aunt's ragù, as any good Bolognese, I tend to approach lasagne made by other people with a good dose of suspicion. But then I talked to Argini, tried his lasagna kit and understood what he is trying to achieve.
Argini, who owns a restaurant in Pontecchio Marconi, just outside Bologna, called Taverna Re Lasagna, made it a point of only using high-quality products from Italian companies. For example, the ragù sauce in the kit is made from his exclusive recipe and produced by a Modena firm which was affected by the 2012 earthquakes that struck Emilia-Romagna.
Before assembling the box, he assures me he tried all the ingredients and tested the preparation himself. He also recruited some of his Bolognese friends to try it out; they said the lasagna prepared from his box is so good it could be served at the restaurant, he tells me.
And it is very easy to make too: “You don’t need to be an experienced chef, just follow the instructions in the box, prepare the lasagna, put it in the oven, then enjoy this delicious dish!”.
I opened my box and found two bowls, 12 sheets of dry pasta, béchamel sauce, and ragù sauce. I followed his instructions and my impression is that while the resulting dish cannot compare to my mom or my aunty's homemade lasagna, it looked and tasted way better than any ready-to-make lasagna I saw my friends microwaving while living abroad.
Argini now exports his lasagna in the box everywhere in the world, including the U.K., the U.S. and Australia. In the U.S., due to regulations affecting the export of meat, he sends a vegan version of the lasagna box which I haven't tried.
“The idea is to make the excellence of Bolognese cuisine available to all,” Argini explains. “But there is also another message I want to convey: having fun while cooking together with your husband or wife and the children, something that brings the family closer together. That’s how it was when I was a child and it’s the message I bring: family, cooking, being together.”
In the following video you see the preparation of the lasagna "a casa Argini":