Lasagne is the plural

I first developed this recipe in Japan, when it was originally deemed, “flying floor lasagne.” I didn’t have an oven. I had a toaster “oven” with a door that barely closed to fit the square baking pan I purchased from a restaurant supply store. Upon the first successful, delicious attempt at “baking” a lasagne in the flimsy aluminum and plastic appliance, the heavy, gorgeous pan of lasagne landed face down on the floor as I attempted to extricate it from the toaster. We definitely scraped as much of it as possible back into the pan and ate it.

This recipe is easy in the sense that there are no complicated techniques involved. However, it is reasonably time consuming, since it is ideal to let the sauce simmer for at least 45 minutes before assembling the dish. Nevertheless, most of the “time” involved in this dish is passive; you can leave the sauce to let it simmer and go do something else, and do the same again once the lasagne is in the oven. The “active” amount of time involved with this dish is probably around 30 minutes, which includes time for hand-shredding the cheese.

Flying Floor Lasagne Ingredients

Yield: 6-8 servings

For the sauce:

  • About 500g (about 1lb) ground beef*
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4-5 sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped; or about 1 tbs dried
  • 1 fresh chili, chopped; or about 1 tsp dried chili flakes
  • 4-5 sprigs of fresh oregano; or about 2 tsp dried
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 250g (8oz), or one punnet of mushrooms, chopped; optional
  • 6 fresh roma tomatoes if available (other varieties will do just fine)
  • 1 can chopped peeled tomatoes; or at least 1kg fresh tomatoes
  • 1 can water (simply fill the empty tomato can with water)
  • About 1/2 cup (about 125ml) red wine; optional but recommended
  • Two glugs of olive oil (about 2-4 tbs)
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the assembly: 

  • About 300g (about 2 cups shredded) mozzarella, shredded
  • About 100g (about 1/2 cup shredded) pecorino, parmesan, or other hard cheese, shredded
  • 250g (about 1lb) lasagna noodles
  • About 1-2 tsp fresh (chopped) or dried basil

*The leanness of the beef is up to you. You can also substitute ground ostrich or turkey. For a vegetarian option, add an additional punnet of mushrooms.

Method

Sauce: 

Take the beef out of the fridge and let it warm up a bit as you chop the vegetables. First, heat some of the oil (about 1 tbs) and cook the chopped mushrooms until all the liquid evaporates. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Heat the rest of the oil on medium heat in a large saucepan, and add the onions, garlic, chili, oregano, and rosemary. Cook gently until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the beef, paprika, and some of the salt and pepper, and allow to brown, another 5-7 minutes. Next, add the wine and simmer until most of the liquid evaporates. Add the fresh and tinned (or entirely fresh) tomatoes and the water. When the sauce starts to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and let it cook for about 45 minutes.

Assembly:

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F). Add the cooked mushrooms into the sauce, and then turn off the heat. Spread a few tablespoons of sauce in the bottom of a baking dish that can fit 3 sheets of lasagna side-by-side (usually 33x23cm, or 9x13in). Place 3 sheets of lasagna over the sauce. Using a cooking spoon or a small ladle, spoon more sauce over the pasta (about 3 scant ladles per layer). Sprinkle some cheese over the sauce, then place more lasagna sheets on top of the cheese. Repeat until you have about 4-5 layers of pasta. You may want to gently push down the pasta sheets after each layer. pour the remaining sauce over the top, and sprinkle any leftover mozzarella with the hard cheese on top. Sprinkle the basil over the cheese. Cover the pan with foil or the matching top, and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil or pan top and Bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble and brown. Enjoy!

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