A delicious oven bake consisting of a cheesy egg/spinach layer in between two layers of beef mince tomato sauce. Think lasagna, minus the pasta!

Chantal has found the inspiration for this dish on a Dutch recipe site, Smulweb.nl. It was already posted by someone in 2004 and mentioned that it was from a cookbook by Mary Berry. I only knew her as a judge on The Great British Bake Off and saw her a couple of times on some cooking segments of BBC daytime TV, but did not realize that she has written more than 70 cookery books over the years!

I couldn’t find the original recipe online although there is a very nice adaptation with mushrooms and a phyllo pastry topping over on The Pool which seems to have been published in Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection. A very similar recipe to that one was published in her 1995 Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook.

Below you will find the recipe that we followed (slightly tweaked from the one we discovered on smulweb.nl).

The recipe

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 900g / 2 lbs minced beef
  • 1 x 400g/12oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 150ml / 2/3 cup beef stock
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 900g / 2 lbs fresh spinach (or about 600g / 20oz frozen, thawed)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 50g / 2oz fresh breadcrumbs (or panko breadcrumbs, but do check if it already has salt in it!)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 x 125g / 5oz balls of Mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 50g / 2oz Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 75g / 3oz Cheddar or Gouda cheese, grated
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 180℃/355
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan or casserole and cook the onions for a few minutes until soft. Add the beef mince, break down with a wooden spoon and fry until browned all over.
  3. Add the garlic and fry gently for a couple of minutes. Then tip in the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, and beef stock and stir together well.
  4. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour.  Season to taste and leave to cool.
  5. In the meantime, bring water to a boil in a large cooking pot and wilt the spinach. Drain in a colander, squeezing out all excess water.
  6. Put the (panko) breadcrumbs, eggs, and butter in a bowl and mix with a fork. Add the drained spinach, combine well and season thoroughly with salt and pepper.
  7. Transfer half of the tomato sauce to a 2½ liter / 2¾ quart wide-based ovenproof dish. Spoon the spinach mixture on top of the beef sauce and spread out evenly and cover with the mozzarella slices and grated Parmesan cheese. Finish with the remaining beef sauce, add the grated Cheddar/Gouda cheese and cover the dish with tin foil.
  8. Bake for 30–35 minutes (take the tin foil off halfway) until golden on top and bubbling at the edges.
  9. Sprinkle the parsley on top and tuck in!IMG_4060

What worked and what didn’t:
A really tasty dish with loads of spinach and 3 different kinds of cheese. The tomato sauce was nice and easy but no bold flavors. However, it does gain flavour during the oven bake. Overall, nothing to fault it really, everybody liked it. We didn’t miss lasagna sheets for a minute!

Recipe accuracy:
This recipe is accurate and should normally serve 6 persons

Suggested tweaks:
A tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce added to the tomato sauce and a grating of nutmeg added to the spinach would definitely give a boost to the overall flavor of the dish.

Verdict: 8/10; Will be made again

One thought on “Mozzarella Beef Florentine by Mary Berry

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