Celebrating diversity through the universal language of lasagna

December 2, 2022

Celebrating diversity through the universal language of lasagna

One thing is clear: nothing brings people together quite like the universal language of a tasty dish. Once every academic term, students from LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) will share delicious cuisine with the community that celebrates the diversity of LINC learners. This cultural experience is made possible through a newly established partnership between NorQuest’s Career Centre and the EPL Stanley A. Milner Library that allows for the usage of the library’s new space: The Kitchen.

On November 18, students invited community members and NorQuest employees to discover more about Eritrea and savour their culture with a delicious plate of Eritrean lasagna. The event’s success cannot be understated as EPL estimated that there were 75 to 100 attendees at peak times.

Diversity has the power to enrich our community whether it be through music, dancing, or cuisine. This is something that LINC has done splendidly through their initiative of connecting newcomers with the community through the power of cuisine as a means of championing diversity. For some, this may simply be a tasty plate of lasagna, but LINC has leveraged it to empower their learners and give them the tools to connect with others, forge lifelong friendships, and build a sense of belonging within our community of learners. As LINC students worked together to prepare each dish, the shared cultural experience was equally enriching for both students and the community. The undeniable feeling of pride and enthusiasm amongst students as well as the public’s eagerness could be felt as each lasagna dish was taken out of the oven to be shared.

“At first, I didn't expect too much from this event but when I arrived, the feelings were different - working, laughing, discussing, learning and cooking in a group. The event passed from "it could be boring..." to "what a marvelous day!" (Santiago Rojas, NorQuest College LINC student).

There is no doubt that LINC plays a critical role for newcomers and the college but it is also important to recognize their contributions on an even bigger scale. This particular initiative furthers the City of Edmonton’s efforts in meeting the required criteria to be deemed an official “Learning City” under the Global Network of Learning Cities goals initiated by UNESCO.

“Doing this project was a great experience, to know the process step by step and finally being part of the work in the kitchen gave me beautiful memories […] I feel privileged to have been part of the first group at NorQuest College that presented this project.” (Nanci Rodriguez, NorQuest College LINC student)

Welcoming newcomers means giving them a platform to feel seen, heard, and valued both within and outside the walls of NorQuest. It is by doing so that the college lives its philosophy: we are who we include. Celebrating diversity ultimately rests in our ability to amplify the voices of diversity. That is exactly what LINC has managed to do through the universal language of lasagna.

A male student stirring a pot of tomato sauceA group of students posing for a photo

Craving some delicious lasagna?

Try out this tasty dish with the recipe below!


  • 4 onions
  • 2 cups of Prego Sauce or 4-5 blended tomatoes
  • 250 grams ground beef
  • 1 box of lasagna noodles (500 grams)
  • 4 eggs
  • 320 grams shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Berbere spice mix
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan or pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add beef to the pot, being careful to break up clumps with a wooden spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste, then cook until meat is browned, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Stir in the Prego Sauce or tomatoes and berbere spice mix, reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  4. While the sauce and meat are cooking – Cook lasagna noodles according to package instructions.
  5. Typically, you will have to bring 5 L to a rolling boil and add 1 tbsp of salt. Add pasta to boiling water and stir. Cook uncovered, for 9-11 minutes, stirring occasionally until desired tenderness is reached. Drain and set aside.
  6. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and grease glass casserole pan.
  7.  Ladle the meat sauce mixture directly onto the pan, spreading to cover evenly. Follow with a layer of noodles, then sauce, and continue alternating until the lasagna is constructed.
  8. Beat 4 eggs and add them to the top layer of the lasagna and finish with shredded mozzarella.
  9. Bake covered for 45 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until the top cheese layer has browned. Allow to cool before slicing.