Lasagna with Romanesco Cauliflower & Sun-Dried Tomatoes
It's been a cold, rainy, dark and dismal start to the week this Monday, I can tell you! And especially this evening when I got home, freezing cold and soaking from the rain, I felt pretty miserable and in need of some warmth and comfort!
So I invented this little creation, which took a little preparation, but which then rewarded me by taking care of itself for 45 minutes, whilst I lay back in a bath and relaxed! All in all a great idea, I'd say!
Lasagna is always a real treat, but this one was a little different... Of course! It was me that made it after all!
One great thing about this dish, is that all of the preparation takes place in one pan- a frying pan for that matter!
I wanted to put my lovely little romenesco cauliflower to good use this evening and thought of this way, to cook it in a makeshift bechamel sauce and to use that as the filling for my lasagna. So, yes, this was vegetarian, a little lighter, a lot different... but still every bit as delicious and comforting as the classic dish!
The ingredients you are going to need are these, listed here... The quantities will vary depending on the size of your cauliflower I suppose! This was a small one, just the size of a large grapefruit and perfect for one hungry guy- or 2 small portions. But luckily, this is one of those dishes where you only need to know the method and the rest will fall into place... You'll see!
So, I had my 1 little romenesco, 1 spring onion, 3-4 sun-dried tomatoes, 4 sheets of lasagna, a little butter, some Grana or Parmesan cheese, some milk and simply salt, pepper and nutmeg to season.
Although I neither used all of the butter, not went to all of the trouble, to make a "real" bechamel sauce, and although I used a reduced fat milk and made a much lighter version, the result was still creamy and delicious.
But because the romenesco, especially when cooked in a creamy sauce, would have been very mild in its flavor, I added tangy sun-dried tomatoes and plenty of nutmeg to shake things up a little! And the combination of the both worked really, really well!
To prepare the romenesco, I simply washed it, cut apart the separate "florets", sliced them in half and sautéed them with some finely chopped spring onion in a little butter.
The reason I so often used spring onions in my dishes is that being as I am only cooking for one, I simply do not need large amounts of onion a lot of the time and this avoids me having any waste or left overs... So sure, regular onion works fine here too!
Once the onion begins to brown slightly, deglaze the pan with milk, add a good pat of butter, season with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg and bring to the boil. Top up with boiling water until the romenesco is almost covered, reduce the heat to a simmer and let it bubble away for 15- 20 minutes.
In the meantime, turn in the oven to get it nice and hot and have a drink... Why not! You deserve it! (Or at least I did this evening!)
I then took a heaped teaspoon of flour and dissolved it with a little milk, adding it a bit at a time and stirring constantly so as to not create any lumps, then thinned this down with more milk until I had about 1 glassful, which I then added to the frying pan.
I stirred it in well, added a little more nutmeg, salt and pepper as necessary and kept stirring until it thickened to a nice creamy consistency.
Basically, if you have enough sauce to cover the romenesco, you will have enough sauce to cook your lasagna... That is the rule of thumb that I would use.
And then it is simply a matter of layering your pasta sheets with the romenesco and light, makeshift bechamel, to which you need to add the sun-dried tomatoes, grated cheese and pepper as you go...
Give each layer a squeeze down as you go, so that they get nicely moistened... I left them all nice and loose for my photo, to demonstrate the fact that I had 4 layers to mine!
Finish your lasagna off with a final sheet of pasta, plenty of the sauce in top and a generous amount of cheese, then cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake in a hot oven, at 180-190 C, for 45 minutes, then for a further 5 minutes under the broiler to become lovely and golden brown.
Make sure not to put you foil on top too tightly, to avoid it making contact with and sticking to the cheese that you have scattered on top.
Dare to be different and try something new! I do it every day and wouldn't want it any other way either!