Moroccan Lasagne – a recipe for cold days.

I forgot to photograph the one I made so have some lasagne sheets…

Just squeezing this in at the end of November before all the Christmas cooking starts, though if you like Christmas cakes and puddings I imagine you’re already elbow deep! (I don’t, so I’m not.)

I’m not sure where I found this – I’m a bit of a magpie when it comes to recipes. Anyway, I tried it with a couple of tweaks, and it was yummy so here you are! I suppose you could sprinkle cheese on it at table, to conform with the original Italian dish, but we didn’t think it needed it.

Start with your usual basic mince recipe – whatever you’d do for e.g. spaghetti bolognese. Use lamb mince if you can, and add tomatoes and onion. The original recipe suggested carrots but I’d run out. Season with salt, pepper, garlic and herbs to taste. I’m not giving quantities because you know your family size and appetites. I used about 250 grammes of mince, a tine of tomatoes, and an onion.

Try not to get too much liquid because this is for lasagne. When it’s ready, add some kind of thinly sliced veg – the original recipe suggested kale but I hadn’t any so I used cabbage. Then add chopped dates and a big handful of sultanas. Let the veg and fruit soften in the hot sauce. Season with harissa paste, or with chili flakes. I use those jars of harissa (easier than making my own and I’m lazy) and have found they keep better if you put oil over the contents once opened and store in the coldest part of the fridge.

Make white sauce. You can play around with bechamel from scratch, use a jar of lasagne sauce, or do what I did and make some fairly thick white sauce from a jar of granules. I made about 250 ml and might make slightly more another time.

You can get all this lot ready and each bit will be quite happy till the other ingredients are prepared. If the mince or the sauce cool, it won’t matter as they’ll reheat in the oven. So you don’t have to juggle to have everything ready at once.

Layer your ingredients: sauce then lasagne sheets, then mince, until you have a final sauce layer. The dish I like using is one sheet long and one and a half wide so I have to split sheets to make it work.

Cover this with breadcrumbs. The best for the job are the sort you make yourself from stale bread. If I’m making e.g. bread sauce or summer pudding and remove the crusts I chop these and freeze them. Then when I need breadcrumbs I thaw them, let them sit in the open to go nicely stale for a day, and blitz them in a food processor. They work much better than the very fine ones you can buy. If you have any left over, store in an airtight jar in a cupboard and use on e.g. fish.

Put the dish, uncovered, in the oven (180C) for about 35 minutes, then serve with salad.

The combination of added fruit and hot harissa, plus the novelty of crumbs instead of cheese makes this a totally new way to experience lasagne. I can recommend it!


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