Zucchini Lasagne with Cauliflower "bechamel"

In my family I have a mix of palates to please (or fussy little buggers) but we all agree that we love this recipe.

For many people it can be challenging to get enough veggies onto our plates every day.

What makes this recipe great is that the ‘béchamel’ – actually uses a whole head of cauliflower and it is much easier than making your traditional béchamel and just as tasty.

If you are vegetarian or vegan just double the amount of vegetable base and take out the meat and I promise you it will still be delicious. For those of you who love your traditional Bolognese you still get all of the flavour but with a lot more vegetables.

The secret is in adding the celery. Celery can be a love or hate thing but by being chopped finely you wont be able to detect it. BUT what makes the celery so important is that this clever little veggie has a compound that enhances the flavours of the other ingredients – it is kind of like natures MSG.

The recipe below is for one large lasagne, however you will have some Bolognese left over- this base can be used again for a quick assemble lasagne, spaghetti or jaffle on a busy night.

I believe that the key to the texture of this still feeling like a Bolognese is in the chopping, so spending a little extra time finely dicing the onion, carrots, celery & zucchini will be well worth the effort.

BOLOGNESE

500g beef mince
500g pork mince
60ml or 3 tablespoons EVOO
4 x large brown onions peeled and finely diced
6 x garlic cloves peeled and chopped
6 celery sticks finely diced
6 carrots peeled and finely diced
4 medium zucchini finely diced (+ another 4 for assembly)
1 small fennel bulb finely diced (optional)
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground fennel
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
2 x 810ml jar passata
4 x 410g can crushed tomatoes
1 litre free range chicken bone broth or stock
1 tablespoon sea salt (depending on salt level of your stock, this will vary)

1.     Place a heavy based large saucepan over medium to high heat pour in the olive oil and then add in the chopped onions. Cook for 5 mins then add the diced garlic, carrots, celery, zucchini & fennel (if using) and keep it cooking while you do the meat giving it the occasional stir.

2.     Whilst the veggies are cooking heat up a fry pan and brown the mince meat. I suggest doing this in 2 batches so it doesn’t stew then add the meat to the vegetables once it is cooked.

3.     Deglaze the frypan with the white wine and pour into saucepan with vegetables and meat.

4.     Add all other ingredients – bring up to simmer and allow to cook for about an hour or until sauce has reduced to a nice thick consistency.

CAULIFLOWER ‘BECHAMEL’

1 whole cauliflower roughly chopped into 2cm pieces & chop the stalk finer into thinner slices.
500ml or 2 cup almond milk
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt (or more to taste)

1.     Place chopped cauliflower, almond milk and salt into large saucepan. Place a lid onto and bring to the boil and cook till cauliflower is soft. Approx. 15mins

2.     Drain liquid from cauliflower but keep all excess liquid to add back into the cauliflower as needed whilst pureeing.

3.     Place cauliflower back into the saucepan and puree with hand blender – adding nutritional yeast flakes and adding back excess liquid if required until it is a nice smooth consistency. Add salt to taste if required.

ASSEMBLY

Bolognese
Cauliflower ‘béchamel’
4 med zucchini
1 tablespoon EVOO
Sea salt
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes

1.     Preheat oven to 180 degrees

2.     Thinly slice 4 zucchini lengthways using mandolin

3.     In an oven proof dish approx. 30cm x 25cm assemble lasagne with layers of zucchini, Bolognese, zucchini béchamel, zucchini, bolognaise, zucchini béchamel and zucchini. Drizzle with EVO then sprinkle with salt and nutritional yeast flakes and bake in oven for 30 mins and serve.