I think I may have said this about other recipes on here, but I'll say it again anyway – this recipe is in no way traditional – but it's pretty delicious!
The bechamel is thick and creamy with a touch of veggie sweetness and nutmeg, and without the need for milk or flour. It tastes like it should be naughty but it's surprisingly light, being cauliflower. Eggplant is a nice change from pasta and the spices really make the dish (so please don't leave them out).
Comfort food that's not stodgy and heavy? Sign me up!
olive oil 1 onion, peeled and chopped 250g beef mince 250g pork mince 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced 1/2 a quill of cinnamon 1/2 tsp mixed spice 400g tinned tomatoes 2 tbs tomato paste 1-2 tsp of dried oregano freshly ground pepper Maldon sea salt flakes
2 medium eggplants, sliced into 1cm rounds
Maldon sea salt flakes
Cauliflower Bechamel Layer
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced 1 tbsp butter 3 cups cauliflower florets (about one small cauliflower, use the stems, just slice this thinly so it cooks quickly) 1 cup vegetable stock or water 1 cup grated parmesan 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper nutmeg, freshly grated, to taste 1 egg 1 tbs arrowroot*
handful of panko breadcrumbs
dried oregano if you like
*DID YOU KNOW: Arrowroot is extremely nutrient rich, boasting significant levels of copper, iron, calcium, and fibre? I didn't.
Pre-heat your oven to 200°C.
In a heavy based pot, soften the onions in a splash of olive oil until translucent.
Add mince meat and cook until brown, breaking up the lumps as you stir. Now add in the garlic, cinnamon quill and mixed spice, stir, then add tomato paste and tinned tomatoes.
Lastly, add the oregano and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then down to a gentle simmer and cook down for an hour.
Slice the eggplant into 1cm rounds (I find this shape is easier to cut and serve once cooked) and drizzle with olive oil and season.
Place on a baking tray in a single layer, and cook in the oven for 10-15 mins, flipping over half way.
Once cooked, set aside and cool.
Cauliflower Bechamel Layer
In a pot, melt the butter and cook the garlic until softened, but not browned.
Add the cauliflower florets and give it a stir, then add the stock or water. Bring to a boil with the lid so it steams until tender, about 5 minutes.
Once the cauliflower is really soft, turn off the heat and use a stab blender to get a puree that has no lumps.
Grab a cup and scoop out some of the pureed cauliflower and add the arrowroot to this until well combined. Add this back into the pot along with half of the parmesan and blend to incorporate evenly.
Taste and seasoning then add nutmeg to taste. It should now be cool enough to add in the egg, stir until well mixed. Now it's time to assemble!
In a large baking tray, make a base layer of eggplant then top with the meat sauce. Alternate until all eggplant and meat sauce is used (remember to discard the cinnamon quill).
Top with the bechamel sauce, smoothing out with a spatula. Scatter the remaining parmesan and a handful of panko crumbs and some oregano if you like.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.