Six months ago I had a lunch at a restaurant where they served lasagna in a very interesting way: the vegetable ragout and the lasagna sheets were not baked together as a casserole dish; instead of it, the pasta squares, with the sauce in-between, were arranged on a plate in a criss-cross manner.
To say true, I didn’t quite like that vegetable lasagna (it was ok but not more-ish as you expect a pasta dish to be) except the top layer which had some pesto in it. I am head over heels in love with this condiment and I can eat an unlimited amount of anything that has this green cheesy and nutty delight in it (in the childhood the same “addictive” element for me was ketchup). Despite the fact that I was not impressed by the dish in general, I found the unorthodox presentation quite appealing and decided to use the concept at home.
Recently as I was stewing the meat for the pasta, I remembered about that extraordinary looking dish and instead of mixing the sauce with spaghetti or making a macaroni gratin I boiled a few lasagna sheets, cut them in halves and – voila! – made my open beef lasagna. My husband loved it a lot. I for one got another proof to the theory that sometimes a twist on the presentation gives you an illusion of enjoying a new dish!
500 gm minced beef
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
salt and black pepper to taste
100 gm mozzarella, grated
8 lasagna sheets
2 tbsp tomato powder
4 tomato chips
a few basil leaves
1. In a pan, heat olive oil together with the bay leaf. Add onion and saute till it’s translucent. Add garlic and saute for one more minute. Add the minced beef and cook for 15 minutes, then add the tomatoes, salt and black pepper, and cook for 10 minutes more or till the sauce thickens. Discard the bay leaf and check the seasoning.
2. Boil lasagna sheets in salted water till al dente. Cut each of them into two to make squares.
3. Sprinkle tomato powder on a plate. Place a square of pasta and smear 2 tbsp of meat sauce on top. Sprinkle with mozzarella and cover with another square of lasagna sheet, placed in 45 angle with respect to the first one. Continue to alternate layers of pasta, sauce and mozzarella, finishing with the cheese. Repeat to make 3 more serves. Use a blow torch to melt the top layer of mozzarella. Garnish with tomato chips and basil leaves.