Lazanki is a traditional Polish dish believed to have been brought to Poland from Italy by Bona Sforza, King Zigmund the Old's bride, sometime in the 1500s. The dish typically contains cabbage, noodles, ground meat or bacon, onions, and spices. Some have likened lazanki to lasagna, since it contains flat noodles layered with meat and vegetables. The noodles are usually made with rye, buckwheat, or wheat flour. Lasagna noodles can be substituted for traditionally made lazanki noodles in this dish.
Traditional Polish cuisine typically includes many meat-based dishes. Some believe the Polish emphasis on hearty, meaty foods stems from their environment. The region typically endures long, cold winters, and the Slavic peoples have therefore traditionally been forced to rely on meats and preservable root vegetables, such as cabbage, for sustenance throughout the cold season.
Lazanki may be considered an excellent example of hearty Polish cooking. It may contain ground beef, chicken, pork, turkey, or any other available meat. Bacon has been implemented in some recipes, as have chunks of sausage.
The large, flat noodles in lazanki are traditionally made with rye, buckwheat, or wheat flour. Rye and buckwheat were among the first grains cultivated by the Slavic peoples of Eastern Europe. For some, these grains continue to occupy a place of importance in traditional Polish cuisine.
Noodles for lazanki are often homemade, though manufactured lasagna noodles can be substituted whenever necessary. The homemade noodles are generally made with flour, eggs, salt and water. The ingredients are typically kneaded together, rolled out flat, and then cut into thick strips. Once dried, the noodles are typically boiled in salt water. The noodles must usually be cooked before the preparation of the dish can be completed.
The spicy, meaty cabbage filling for lazanki is generally prepared separately. The meat, onions, and cabbage will generally be cooked in a hot skillet. Ground meat is generally considered most appropriate, and the onions are often diced or cubed. The cabbage, however, is usually sliced into pieces about the same size as the lazanki noodles themselves.
The meat and onions for lazanki are usually cooked first. The cabbage is then typically added to the mixture and allowed to steam. Spices, including salt, pepper, and cumin, are generally added at this stage. Once the cabbage has been thoroughly steamed, the boiled lazanki noodles are generally added.