Childhood is characterized by the rich scent of beef Bolognese bubbling away on the stove, and cheesy white sauce being poured from a large Pyrex bowl over layers of beef mince and lasagne sheets. It’s a happy space, and one I want to relive from time to time with what new skills I’ve learned since then.
So when we had friends over the other day I relished the opportunity to create a meal designed for more than just two people. Out came my Pyrex jug and baking dish… only to realise this version of Beef Lasagne didn’t require a Pyrex jug after all! With the help of The Healthy Food Chef, I managed to adapt a recipe for white sauce made with cauliflower, and still make it taste like my mother’s. It was a small, but happy feat, and was made in the bowl of a food processor – how modern can I get?!
Another adaptation to the classic lasagne in my recipe, is what I used instead of pasta. This recipe calls for layers of thinly sliced vegetables. Nourishing, protein-rich, and with all those good fats!
This meal makes a happy family, at least in my experience anyway…
Winter Vegetable Beef Lasagne with Flour-less White Sauce
For the Beef
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1kg beef mince
- 1 onion, diced
- 5 clove garlic, diced
- small handful fresh thyme, chopped
- 2 Tbsp tomato puree
- 2 can diced tomatoes
- ¼ cup water
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp dry mixed herbs
- ½ handful of fresh thyme, roughly chopped
- 1½ tsp paprika
- 1 tsp gluten-free soy sauce (or Coco-Soy)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground pepper
For the Vegetable filling
- 4 courgette
- 2 capsicum
- ½ pumpkin
- 1 bunch large spinach leaves, washed and dried
For the Cauliflower White Sauce
- 1 cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ cup water (optional: regular milk, almond milk)
- 1 cup grated tasty cheese
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground pepper
For the Beef
Turn the oven on to 180°
In a large, heavy based saucepan heat the olive oil on medium. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme, cover, and allow to sweat for eight minutes. Watch carefully so the onion doesn’t burn.
Remove the lid, push the onion to the side of the saucepan and add the beef. Use a wooden spoon to cut the meat up. Make sure all the meat browns.
Once the meat is browned, add the tomato puree, sauté for 1 – 2 minutes. Add the can of tomatoes and water and mix well.
Add all other ingredients, mix well, cover, and turn heat to low-medium. Allow to lightly simmer for around two hours. The meat should by smooth, not grainy. Mix it every now and then to avoid the bottom of the pan burning. For the last half hour, remove the lid and allow the sauce to reduce ever so slightly.
For the Vegetable filling
Meanwhile, slice the courgette and capsicum vertically so they are thin and long. In the warmer months I suggest also using aubergine as well.
Slice the pumpkin into thin long sheets. Spread the pumpkin on a lined baking tray, drizzle with oil, salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the pumpkin is just cooked. Remove and allow to cool.
For the White sauce
To make the white sauce, place the cauliflower, oil, water in a small sauce pan. Cover and place on high heat for 5 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked through. Remove from the heat, drain.
In a food processor blend the cauliflower until a puree is formed. In order to create a liquidy smooth texture, you may need to add some more liquid. I use regular milk, but you can choose a different milk or water. Slowly add the milk while the motor is running until the sauce is smooth and runny. Add all other ingredients and blend until smooth (about 1 minute max).
To assemble and cook
To assemble your lasagne you will need a large baking dish. First spread one large spoonful of beef over the base. Then press the spinach leaves into the base of the dish, followed by a thin layer of Bolognese. Spread the pumpkin over the mince, followed by another thin layer of meat sauce. Spread half the white sauce over the beef, followed by the courgette and capsicum, followed by the last of the meat sauce, and then the last of the white sauce. Grind black pepper over the top.
Place the dish in the oven for around 30 – 40 minutes, until the top is bubbling and slightly golden.
"Feed, Nourish, Value Yourself"