The lasagne we know best is the version from Emilia-Romagna, with bechamel and bolognese, and that is a lasagne that I make often and I love. The Calabrians make their lasagna (in the south of Italy lasagna ends with an ‘a’ not an ‘e’, for ages I couldn't figure out which was the right spelling, now I know both are) with layers of mozzarella instead of bechamel, and include layers of chopped boiled egg and ham or mortadella as well as mince.
Now one of my kids does not like my lasagne with bechamel, but he absolutely loves this bechamel free version. This is a really, really good lasagne. And it is so easy to make.
The sauce is made up in minutes, and it is a really wet sauce, it needs to be to cook the lasagna sheets, then you just build it up, super fast, super easy. It bakes for about an hour, and you get a truly tasty lasagna.
I just made this for a New Years Day party and it was a really party hit. I even baked it earlier in the day, up to the removing of the baking paper and foil part, then I just put it back in the oven for 20 minutes to heat up when needed, then removed the baking paper and foil and baked for about 20 minutes until browned to my liking.
If you don't love bechamel, like my son, this is a great lasagna to try.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing
1 brown onion, chopped
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary leaves
500 g pork and veal mince
1 × 700 ml bottle tomato passata
250 ml (1 cup) red wine
500 g (5 cups) coarsely grated mozzarella
70 g (1 cup) finely grated parmesan
12 dried lasagne sheets
80 g thinly sliced ham, cut into 4 cm pieces
80 g sliced mortadella, cut into 4 cm pieces
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or flameproof casserole dish over medium–high heat. Add the onion and carrot, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 3–4 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic, thyme and rosemary and cook for a further 1 minute or until aromatic.
Add the mince and cook, breaking up any lumps with the back of a wooden spoon, for 4–5 minutes or until well browned. Add the passata, wine and 500 ml (2 cups) water. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly. (The mince mixture will have more moisture than a traditional lasagne; as there is no bechamel you need this extra liquid to cook the pasta.)
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease a 6 cm deep, 30 cm × 22 cm baking dish with a little oil.
Combine the mozzarella and parmesan in a bowl.
Spoon about ½ cup of the mince mixture over the base of the dish and cover with four of the lasagne sheets. Top with one-third of the remaining mince mixture, then one-third of the ham and mortadella, one-third of the egg and one-third of the cheese mixture. Repeat the layering twice, but before the final layer of egg and cheese, drizzle over 60 ml (¼ cup) water.
Cover with a sheet of baking paper and then foil, and bake for 40 minutes.
Increase the oven temperature to 220°C/200°C fan-forced. Remove the paper and foil and bake for a further 8–10 minutes or until golden.
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