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Charmion BS: Recipes - what are we eating? (1136* d) RE: BS: Recipes - what are we eating? 15 Nov 19

"Grains de paradis" is how I have it written on the masking tape label in my spice drawer, most likely because I bought this wonderful pepper from a French-speaking Burundian woman selling central African products in the By Ward Market in Ottawa. It is particularly good on pan-fried salmon, and I reserve it for that purpose as I have no idea where to find more here in Perth County, where the people of central Africa do not tend to settle.

Today's supper is a vegetarian lasagne featuring portobello mushrooms and three kinds of cheese (ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan). I doubt that Italians would recognize it as food fit for their families, but it works for us, not least because it goes well with our favourite red plonk and the Le Creuset baker I make it in holds enough for six ample servings. Himself easily vanishes two servings at a sitting, so one batch does two meals.

As Steve Shaw reminds me, dried oregano is a critical staple. Without rather a lot of it, our veggie lasagne would not be worth eating.

The essential ingredients are: olive oil, two bell peppers (I like the red ones), one yellow onion, two or three celery ribs and about a pound of mushrooms, all diced; oregano and thyme ad lib, with salt and freshly ground black pepper; a large (28 fl oz) tin of diced tomatoes; eight raw lasagna noodles; and 500 g of ricotta, 350 g of shredded mozza, and rather a lot of grated Parmesan.

Discerning punters might like to jazz up the sauce with a couple of anchovy fillets mashed into the olive oil at the beginning, a sprinkle of dried chillies, and a small (5 fl oz) tin of tomato paste. I also put garlic in the sauce, and I know Steve would not because of the onion.

Sauté the diced veg in the olive oil, add the herbs and salt and pepper, add the tomatoes, simmer for a few minutes. To assemble, take a large flat baking dish and ladle in enough sauce to cover the bottom, then put down the first layer of lasagne. On top of the raw noodles spread half the ricotta cheese and half the grated mozza, then ladle on another layer of sauce evenly across the cheese. Next, the rest of the noodles, the rest of the ricotta, about half the remaining mozza, and the last of the sauce. Finally, dress the top with the last of the mozza and all the Parmesan, carefully covering the entire top surface with cheese. Sprinkle dried oregano liberally on top of the Parmesan.

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes and rest for 15 minutes before serving.

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