I promise it was not my intention to create one dish from all the wonderful ingredients in my Wild Organics bag but it happened to work out that way! I wanted to make a lasagne, but mid week, I found myself without milk and lasagne sheets. I quickly swapped the lasagne pasta sheets for sweet potato sheets and loved the cauliflower-cheese sauce as an alternative to the creamy béchamel normally used in a lasagne.
I am never without a batch of bolognese in the freezer, to me it is the ultimate comfort and convenience food. To me making bolognese, the foundation of a lasagne, takes patience. For starters one needs good meat. Having had the misfortune of cooking with low-fat supermarket mince, the end result was always mince that was grey, dry and flavourless. Oak Valley farm pasture reared matured beef is the real deal! Happy cows Happy meat.
When it comes to making a successful bolognese I follow 3 rules:
Brown your meat in batches till nicely caramelised remembering that browning meat adds to colour and flavour.
The ‘sofrito’ or base of carrots, onions and celery needs to be sautéed together gently on a medium heat for a long time, at least 25min.
Never boil your bolognese
Beef and Mushroom ‘Lasagne’ with Cauliflower Cheese Sauce
500g Oak Valley Beef Mince
2 Carrots, peeled and diced
2 Onions, peeled and diced
2 Celery, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced to a paste
2 tbspn Tomato Paste
1 can Whole Peeled Italian Tomatoes
500ml Tomato Passata
1 Bay Leaf
20g Flat Leaf Parsley very finely chopped
150g Mushrooms (sprig of thyme)
2 Sweet Potatoes
Cauliflower and Cheese Sauce
1 head cauliflower cut into even size florets
2 garlic cloves
85g Parmesan finely grated
1 onion (optional)
salt and white pepper
Mixture of mozzarella, parmesan and a few thyme sprigs or just thyme leaves.
Start by browning your mince in small batches till well browned. Remove and set aside. In the same pan, sautée the mushrooms (with a sprig of thyme) until slightly softened and golden. Remove the thyme and set aside. In a casserole dish, add a splash of olive oil, add carrots, onions and celery and gently sautée stirring occasionally until the veg are soft (at least 20min). Add the minced garlic and sautée for 5minutes. Add the meat and tomato paste, increasing the heat, and stir for another 5minutes. Add the can of tomatoes, passata and bay leaf. On a gentle heat, let if very slowly simmer away for 30minutes.
While the bolognese is simmering away start with the cauliflower sauce. In a pot of simmering salted water add the cauliflower florets, garlic and onion if using, bring to a gentle boil until tender. Remove and blend into a blender till smooth. Add the cheese and season well. Set aside
Peel the sweet potatoes and slice length ways about 1cm thick, trying to resemble lasagne sheets. Set aside.
Once the bolognese is ready add the finely chopped parsley and mushrooms. Taste and adjust seasoning. It is now time to assemble the lasagne. In a appropriate baking dish spread a thin layer of bolognese on the bottom, top with a layer of the sweet potato sheets, another layer of bolognese, a thin layer of the cauliflower sauce and another layer of sweet potato sheets. Keep on adding the layers until you have a layer of mince and cauliflower sauce at the top. Top this layer with the cheese and thyme mixture. Cover with thin foil and bake in the oven for 40minutes, remove the foil, turn up the oven or grill and place the baking dish back into the oven until golden.
Serve with a green salad and classic vinaigrette.