While we're wary about jumping on health bandwagons, we do like to have fun with our food, so when we heard that you could make a fake 'bechamel' sauce using cauliflower and cashews, we thought it sounded like something for us. And it is a convincing substitute, creamy and delicious. Using zucchini and baby English spinach instead of layers of pasta guarantees a 'lasagne' that leaves you feeling light and healthy but still very satisfied.
Make ahead! The whole dish can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Cook straight from frozen, adding 15 minutes to the cooking time.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours 5 minutes, plus 10 minutes resting
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for greasing
1 brown onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch
500 g minced beef
150 ml red wine
350 g tinned chopped tomatoes
1 heaped teaspoon ground fennel, toasted
500 g cauliflower, cut into florets
80g unsalted cashew nuts
600 g zucchini, trimmed and cut into long, thin, wide strips, about 5mm thick
1 large handful baby English spinach
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large, heavy based frying pan and cook the onion and the crushed garlic with a pinch of salt for about 10-15 minutes till soft and sweet.
Turn the heat to high, add the beef and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook till it has all changed colour, breaking up any lumps as you go - a potato masher works well for this. Splash in the red wine and bring to the boil, stirring constantly, then drop the heat to low and stir in the tomatoes, fennel, rosemary and thyme. Cover partially with a lid and simmer gently for 1 hour. Taste for seasoning and set aside to cool lightly.
Meanwhile, in well-salted water, boil the cauliflower with the cashews and the whole clove of garlic for about 20 minutes till soft. Drain (reserving some of the cooking water) and process in a food processor till the cauliflower and cashews have formed a fine puree. Taste for seasoning and consistency, adding a little more salt or cooking water till you have a good, fairly stiff 'bechamel' consistency - it should be like thick double cream.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
To assemble the 'lasagne', take a rectangular baking tray of around 20 x 30 cm/1.5 litre capacity and grease it lightly with oil. Start with a single layer of zucchini and a small handful of baby spinach, then a layer of meat sauce, then another layer of zucchini slices and baby spinach, and so on till everything is used up. Top with the cauliflower sauce to finish and drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil.
Cook in the oven for 40 minutes, or until the top is well browned and the zucchini slices are tender.
Rest for 10 minutes, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
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