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Recipe  •  16 March 2023


Prawn lasagne with habanero oil

A tasty and hearty spicy dish from Ixta Belfrage's MEZCLA.

This recipe is very close to my heart, and as with many of my favourite recipes, I’ve tweaked it more times than I could count on two hands. In its first incarnation, I started with shell-on prawns, making a stock from the shells and an oil laced with habanero with the fried prawn heads. Rather than a béchamel, I made a homemade version of Catupiry, a Brazilian cheese spread which is hard to describe and really needs to be tasted to be understood, because it tastes nothing like regular cheese spread.

This lasagne is the purest representation of me; a homage to the countries that have shaped me as a person and a cook. In its original form it was one part Italian (the pasta), one part Mexican (the habanero) and one part Brazilian (the Catupiry). This particular version is simplified, no Catupiry and no prawn head oil, but I hope you’ll agree that it’s still magical.

Serves: 4


  • 250g fresh lasagne sheets
  • 130g double cream, plus 2 tablespoons to serve
  • 100g Parmesan, finely grated
  • 10g fresh chives, finely chopped

    Prawn ragù

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely grated/crushed
  • 200g sweet, ripe cherry tomatoes, such as Datterini, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 500g raw peeled king prawns, very finely chopped to mince consistency (about 1kg if you’re starting with shell-on prawns –use the shells to make a stock)
  • 1 dried habanero chilli (or chilli flakes if you prefer less heat)
  • 80g tomato purée/paste
  • 2 teaspoons white miso paste
  • about 50 twists of freshly ground black pepper
  • 100g white wine
  • 500g fish, shellfish or chicken stock (unsalted liquid stock, not cubes)

    Habanero oil

  • 120g olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons tomato purée/paste
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle flakes
  • 1 dried habanero chilli, seeds discarded, finely chopped (use less habanero or a pinch of regular chilli flakes if you prefer)
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon fine salt


For the ragù, put 4 tablespoons of the oil into a large sauté pan on a medium heat with the onion, garlic, cherry tomatoes and fine salt. Fry, stirring often, for 8–10 minutes or until the onions are soft and golden and the tomatoes have broken down.

Increase the heat to high, add the chopped prawns and fry for another 8 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the prawn mince has taken on some colour.

Add the habanero (or chilli flakes), tomato purée/paste, miso and plenty of pepper. Continue to fry for 3 minutes, stirring every now and then. Turn the heat down if the mixture starts to catch or burn.

Pour over the wine and let it bubble away for 30 seconds. Add the stock (or water) and the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently for about 18–20 minutes. Remove the habanero, squeezing it into the sauce first if you like heat.

Meanwhile, put all the ingredients for the habanero oil into a small saucepan and place on a medium heat. Whisk just to incorporate the tomato paste, then heat until gently bubbling, about 1½ minutes. Remove from the heat and setaside. Once cool, transfer to a clean jar (you won’t use it all for this recipe).

Preheat the oven to 200°C fan/220°C.

To assemble, cover the bottom of a small baking dish (about 20 x 20cm or a similar size) with lasagne sheets, then spread over a fifth of the ragù. Follow with a fifth each of the cream, Parmesan and chives. Continue layering in the same way until you’ve used up all the ingredients. Drizzle over ½ tablespoon of the habanero oil, cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Increase the oven heat to 230°C fan/250°C, remove the foil and bake for another 10–12 minutes, or until the edges are crisp.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes. Finish with the remaining 2 tablespoons of cream and a good drizzle of the habanero oil, and serve.

Feature Title

Reinventing 'fusion' flavours with fun, flavour-packed recipes to cook for yourself and others, from the co-author of bestselling Ottolenghi FLAVOUR. For fans of Alison Roman, Nigella Lawson and Anna Jones.
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