Lasagna, as prepared by aunts, mothers, and grandmothers all throughout the Ethiopian and Eritrean diaspora, is the perfect addition to any traditional dinner spread. Serve as a side along with the countries’ national dish, injera served with different kinds of wot or tsebhi, or with just a simple salad. Like most dishes borne of some mercurial mix of need, colonial history, and immigrant ingenuity, Ethiopian/Eritrean lasagna differs in preparation depending on who you ask. This specific recipe combines the signature methods of Sheba’s Ethiopian Kitchen chef and co-owner Kibrework Gebre with the ones I learned from my own mother.
- Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and allow to allow to sweat for about 3 minutes, then stir in tomatoes, garlic, and green onions. Cook for 3-5 more minutes.
- Add beef to the pot, being careful to break up clumps with wooden spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste, then cook until meat is browned, about 10 minutes. If you prefer a less clumpy sauce, add about 4 oz. water to the meat mixture as it cooks.
- Add tomato paste and berbere to pot; allow to cook for 5 minutes before adding tomato sauce, paprika, coriander, bay leaves, oregano, and basil. Reduce heat and simmer for up to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and grease glass casserole pan. Boil lasagna noodles in a large pot of salted water, until just shy of al dente—about 7 or 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Immediately before beginning to layer the lasagna, stir 1 cup of mozzarella directly into the sauce mix.
- Ladle meat sauce mixture directly onto the pan, spreading to cover evenly. Follow with a layer of noodles, then sauce, then both cheeses. Continue alternating until the lasagna is constructed. Sprinkle parmesan over the top layer of mozzarella and cheddar, then cover lasagna with a layer cooking spray-treated aluminum foil. Bake covered for 45 minutes at 475, then remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until a significant portion of the top cheese layer has browned. Allow to cool at least 30 minutes before slicing.
Hannah Giorgis is a staff writer at The Atlantic, and her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New Yorker, BuzzFeed, The Ringer, The Guardian, Jezebel, Pitchfork, and The FADER, among others. She can be found musing about on food—and how much she misses Addis Ababa—on Twitter at @ethiopienne.