The Crispy Sardinian Flatbread To Use In Place Of Lasagna Sheets

Lasagna is the height of Italian comfort food and a centuries-old tradition the Romans adopted from ancient Greece. Countless recipes exist, from Italian sausage and béchamel to spinach and ricotta lasagna. While fillings may change, lasagna sheets remain a constant partition that most recipes share. However, you can replace pasta with a crispy Sardinian flatbread called pane carasau for a novel take on lasagna that is as comforting and delicious.

Pane carasau is an ultra-thin, crispy flatbread originally made for Sardinian shepherds to eat with cheese during months-long herding treks with their flock. It's a simple four-ingredient, unleavened bread that is now popular around Italy, utilized in pizza or to accompany a plate of cheese and cured Italian meats. Using it instead of pasta sheets saves time and lightens an otherwise heavy, rich dish. Most lasagna recipes require parboiling pasta sheets before layering them with sauce and cheese. Pane carasau is already made, which allows you to layer it with the rest of your lasagna ingredients with no prior preparation.

Pasta is also much denser and heavier than pane carasau, so using this thin flatbread cuts the heft without sacrificing the decadence and richness that lasagna is famous for. Instead of disintegrating under the weight of cheese and sauce, the fats and oils in the cheese and meat will hydrate and fortify pane carasau, giving it a slight chew. Case in point, pane frattau, the Sardinian variation of lasagna with pane carasau.

How to use pane carasau in lasagna

Swapping pasta for pane carasau in lasagna is straightforward and foolproof. You can apply it to any lasagna recipe by placing a single layer of pane carasau between the sauce, filling mixture, and cheese. Pane carasau comes in variable shapes that break apart very easily; you'll need to use various pieces arranged like a puzzle to fit a standard rectangular casserole dish.

Since pane carasau is fully baked, the cooking time for your lasagna will be considerably shorter than traditional lasagna; the average cook time for traditional lasagne is between 45 minutes and an hour, while lasagna made with pane carasau cooks for 20 minutes or less.

Look for pane carasau at specialty grocers like Whole Foods, in Italian delis, or sold online from authentic Italian and Sardinian manufacturers. Unlike pasta sheets, pane carasau has many uses. Any leftover flatbread you don't use in the lasagna will make perfect crackers for antipasti, dipped in soups, or even in place of pastry dough for a fruit and cream-layered dessert.