Recipe: Hot Algerian Lasagna

Hot Algerian Lasagna 

Serves 8

Hot Algerian Lasagna blends traditional Italian lasagna with chickpeas, potatoes, ground lamb, and a healthy dose of cayenne pepper. Make this unusual dish once and you will crave the flavors for life.

NOTE: Cayenne pepper’s heat is rated in “heat units.” This recipe was made with a 35,000 cayenne, which is on the low-end of the scale. If you have a 90,000 cayenne, you only need 1/3 of the cayenne pepper for the same kick. The label on your spice jar should give you this information.


1 pound ground lamb or chicken
1/2 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp harissa
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp cayenne pepper (or 1 tsp to make it mild)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground caraway
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cups tomato puree, plus a half cup
1 can drained, rinsed chickpeas
1 cup water
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 lb)
1 lb no-boil lasagna sheets
15 oz ricotta
2 eggs
2 cups shredded mozzarella
2 cups shredded Gruyère


1. In a large skillet over medium-high, brown lamb meat in a little olive oil, draining fat as you go. Remove lamb from skillet and set aside.

2. Without cleaning the skillet, saute onions over medium until translucent and slightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. Add more olive oil if the pan seems dry.

3. Add Harisa, garlic, cayenne, cumin, caraway, and tomato paste. Stir to combine and cook for about 3 minutes, or until fragrant.

4. Add tomato puree, chickpeas, and water. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

5. Add potatoes and lamb. Simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender.

NOTE: At this point you can serve the dish with cooked lasagna sheets stirred in. If you want a layered lasagna, continue with the next steps.

6. Preheat the oven to 350F

7. Let lamb mixture cool slightly.

8.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix ricotta with eggs and 1 cup Gruyère cheese. Add salt to taste.

9. Assemble lasagna. Between each lasagna sheet, add ricotta mixture, lamb mixture and some mozzarella  cheese. Use up to 1 cup of mozzarella cheese for this part. Use extra tomato puree if lasagna seems too dry.

10. Top lasagna with 1 cup Gruyère and 1 cup mozzarella.

11. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 40 minutes to 1 hour.

12. Let rest about 30 minutes before slicing.

Inspired by A Mediterranean Feast, by Clifford Wright
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  1. This lasagna looks so amazingly epic!

  2. I cannot wait to be able to eat dairy again just so that I can make this recipe! It looks so AMAZING!!!

  3. Brian S. says:

    Can I skip the harissa? I can’t find it in any nearby stores and my friends don’t like spicy food, though of course I do. Or should I forget my friends and substitute bottled hot sauce? I have this kick-ass super-hot chili sauce from Indonesia…

    • Whole Foods has it in their dry spices, but they spell it with two “S”

      If you don’t have a Whole Foods near you, you can either

      A) make it (

      B) substitute some dry chili flakes mixed with a little olive oil and crushed garlic.

      C) It would be “okay” to leave it out in this dish… since there is a lot of cayenne.

      I would not use the super hot chili sauce from indonesia, since the flavors might be different.

      good luck and let me know how it goes :)

      • Brian S. says:

        Hoping you can answer this in the next few hours….. I persuaded a friend to stop by Whole Food. Your recipe calls for one tablespoon of harissa, so I am assuming this means to take one TEAspoon of the dry harissa powder, one teaspoon of olive oil and one teaspoon of hot water, and mix them. Thank you for your kindness.

        • Yes, that’s right. Also, I suggest adding a crushed clove of garlic since their harisa does not have garlic in it.

          let me know what you think of the lasagna :)

          PS Let it sit for 30-45 min before cutting it!!!!! :D

  4. Brian S. says:

    Well we just ate it and it was WONDERFUL!! All the flavors blended together and, though if I thought about the filling I’d say yes, that’s North African, when I ate it I realized it was the perfect lasagna. I must confess I didn’t cook it, it was my friend Cathe, one of my mom’s nurses, and she spent days hunting up all the ingredients and all day today making it. But it was worth it! It is really difficult to design a lasagna recipe that works, and that’s especially true of no-boil lasagna sheets, so your CIA training paid off. Thank you!

  5. Jennifer says:

    I’m so sad. The closest Whole Foods does not carry harisa! ARGH! How spicy is it? I would feed it to my 2 and 1 yr old. Do you think the crushed red pepper, garlic and olive oil would do it justice? Just looks amazing. Can’t wait to try it!

    • The brand Whole Foods carries spells Harisa with 2 “s” – call and ask them to look up “Harissa” I bet they have it over in the spice section.

      Worse case scenerio – I linked to my recipe for Harisa. Don’t forget it will be hot with the cayenne too! Good luck.

  6. We tried this the other night and my husband complimented it several times. And he usually doesn’t compliment anything (he’s often a meat and potatoes guy and I’m not, so he tires of my “experimenting”). He told me that he definitely wants to make it again. Making the Harisa was sort of a pain, so I’ll try to buy some next time. I also wouldn’t use the Swiss cheese next time, as I thought it lended a sort of “grainy” texture to the dish. I think all mozzarella would be just as good. But, man, oh, man, was it tasty. I definitely recommend it and so does my co-worker (I brought him a slice today) and husband.

  7. Man does my house smell good right now!

    I made this Algerian “Lasagna” tonight along with the Hummus bi’l Kamman soup (see comments on that recipe), and it was a huge success. The whole family liked it, and my son got seconds and thirds! …of course he’s a teenager, so he’s got his own “eat my way around the world” thing going (i.e. eat anything that’s not tied down). But he’s insisting that I make this one again, so this gets a huge thumbs up from me. Thanks a million Sasha for providing these receipes. …and for giving me a good reason to shop at the local spice shop.

    I was warned that harissa was a firey spice, so I opted for the lower amounts Sasha suggested. But really it wasn’t too spicy at all. Just a nice little heat. This made 2 fullpans of lasagna for me. If you make this (and you should), remember that the potatoes will take some time to get tender (maybe 25-30 minutes in my case), so allow some time for that step.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Fantastic to hear your report, Steve! Your description made me hungry for this all over again. I know my husband was a huge fan. I’ll have to get to it! :) Congrats on the positive reception you got from your family, too! That’s the best.

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