Cooking question...Lasagna and nutmeg?

I was making lasagna last night for dinner, using the recipe on the back of the lasagna noodle box, (which is as good as any other recipe) and I noticed once again that the recipe calls for a dash of nutmeg. Just FTR, I skip the nutmeg.
I checked my other cookbooks, and quite a few of them call for a little bit of nutmeg, from a dash to a quarter teaspoon.

I can’t for the life of me figure out why nutmeg, of all spices, would be in lasagna. Why is it in the recipe?
To me, nutmeg is for pumpkin pie, apple crisp, eggnog and similar recipes.
Would a dash of nutmeg even be detectable under all the cheese and tomato sauce? This recipe makes quite a lot (10 to 12 servings); would a dash of anything make a difference?
Do you use nutmeg in lasagna?

I use nutmeg in lots of savory dishes, but just a pinch. The effect you want is “Hmmm, interesting” not “Oh, I taste nutmeg”

Try it on spinach some time. I bet you’ll like it.

I like Shiva’s response. I think it would be totally fine to leave it out, especially if you get kind of “weirded out” by the thought of nutmeg in your lasagna.

I know my mom omits rosemary in any recipe that calls for it, simply because she doesn’t like the flavor. And her food always tastes just great.

…OTOH, Lasagna and Beefymeg is a GREAT combination. Feel free to send some over. :smiley:

Or why not make the lasagne with spinach instead of beef? That way you get a double dode of nutmeg! And a delicious meal too. I hope you’re using freshly grated. Nothing worse than stale nutmeg (except stale Parmesan cheese).

As Shiva points out, the addition of nutmeg (or any other spice or flavoring agent, for that matter) may be so that the taster will say, “Hey, this is different…and good”, not necessarily so that she will say, “Hey this tastes like nutmeg (thyme, vanilla, etc.)”

More than that, however, recipes do not all stem from great cooks, or even good ones. Often, they include elements that are “merely” traditional, or come from personal taste (one person opined that cloves make an excellent substitute for sweet basil. Maybe to him, and maybe to other people, but not to me). I gather that that recipe calls for a red sauce, probably something along the lines of a ragu. To my mind, a dash of nutmeg is more likely to go with a white sauce (and, yes, there is white lasagna).

So, I would say:[list=1]
[li]Try a little in red sauce.[/li][li]If you don’t find it noticeable, try a little in white sauce, the next time that you make that (not necessarily for lasagna).[/li][li]Whatever you might use it for, get a whole nutmeg and nutmeg grater, not that pre-ground stuff.[/li][/list=1]

The first time I saw someone use nutmeg in a meat dish, I thought I would surely die. As you stated, nutmegs’ general use is in dessert type dishes.
My Dutch in law used it in his meatballs, and he used quiet a bit!!!
From researching recipes, nutmeg seems to be the main
reason “Swedish Meatballs” taste like they do.

Well guess, what… I now… actually like the dang things!
I look forward to making the meatballs, and smelling the aroma as they cook. and sfter all these years, my brain will still tell me “yea… but… this is not normal”…LOL

1 - 2 lbs. hamburger
onion powder
Dutch Rusk or very fine breadcrumbs
2 Franco American canned Beef Gravy
S&P to taste

flatten hamburger about an inch thick
Sprinkle with nutmeg to cover surface area
Sprinkle with onion powder to cover surface area
Sprinkle with S & P

Mix thouroughly, shape into 1-2 inch meatballs
Place meatballs in large frying pan on low heat, cover,
simmer for around 10 minutes, turning occasionally till browned. Pour gravy into pan, bring to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes.
Usually served with mashed potatoes.

P.S. It took me about 4 times eating these things to begin liking them

It’s possible that the lasagna-noodle company also owns a nutmeg-processing plant.

During the Renaissance, Italian foods, partiicularly those from the northern areas incorporated all sorts of what we would consider to be odd spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, glove and ginger came through the trade links with the Arab countries and the Far East and were mixed with fruit and nuts to be added to what we would consider to be savory dishes. Filled pastas were often stuffed with these mixtures and topped with cheese, sugar and cinamon.

Lynn Rossetta Kasper’s book The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food, has an short chapter entitled “The Sweet Pastas of the Renaissance”, that has some of the most famous examples.

And yes, I use a good dose of nutmeg in the ricotta cheese mixture when I make lasagna. In fact, I sometimes add a dash to the pasta itself when I’m making it fresh.

Thanks for all your replies.

I guess next time I’ll try the nutmeg. I only have the grated kind in a little can, so I should get some fresh.
I love spinach, and I do make spinach lasagna occasionally, so I’ll try it on spinach sometime.

BTW, the lasagna was great, beefymeg. I’ll save some for you.

beefymeg…nutmeg…well, there’s joke in there somewhere, but I can’t find it. :wink:

In lieu of nutmeg, you might try mace. It’s the lacy skin of the nutmeg, and it has a more subtle flavor. I use it a lot in recipes calling for chicken broth.

My grandmother was from the Emilia area and used nutmeg almost whenever Parmesan cheese was used - so if Parmeasn cheese was sprinkled on a soup, nutmeg was, too. I still do this, it’s great!

Thanks for the book idea, Ankh_Too, I’ll probably send one to each of my sibs for Christmas!