There seems to be the idea out there that eating healthily is just way more expensive than, well, scouring the Cape for every 2-for-1pizza deal you can find. While this might be a convenient excuse for eating pizza more than is probably considered normal, blaming eating healthily for your lack-of-cash-dollar-in-your-wallet situation isn’t always true. Last night, over dinner, my roommate shared a very significant revelation about life with me. “I just really love mince” was not what I was expecting to follow the long meaningful pause after “Do you know what I figured out in the holidays?” I have to say that I agree with her.
I’m sure that I don’t even need to explain this because most students already know it to be true, but mince is one of the cheaper means of getting your protein (boet) servings in. Aside from the fact that neither of us could actually figure out the difference between Cottage pie and Shepard’s pie last night, mince is still one of the most versatile protein choices. This entire meal cost less than your average 2-for-1 [insert unhealthy food special here] and could very easily feed four people(or one hulk and two normal people). It is also a very nifty way of using cauliflower and proving to everyone around you that you don’t live under a rock – even if you are studying a lot and it seems like the library sees more of you than the Tiger D-floor.
500g lean mince
2 packets of cauliflower florets or 2 heads of cauliflower
Handful of celery stalks
1 carrot (if you really love carrots as much as Kate Stephens does then feel free to put in more than one)
1 tin of tomato puree
1 tsp of garlic
Italian herbs (they are usually the ones in green bottles)
Salt and pepper
**Optional for the Cauli Mash**
Cheese of your choice to top. (the question of whether or not cheese is actually an optional choice in life is a bit too philosophical for me to get into right now, but, if you want to live like those poor lactose-intolerant souls then its your choice – make it responsibly)
How to make delicious happen:
The Bolognaisey bottom
1. Chop the carrot or carrots, celery and Baby spinach and set aside.
2. Put a decent amount of olive oil in the bottom of a large saucepan. I’m not one of those people who will ever actually measure olive oil to put in a pan, I’m not OCD enough for that just yet, just put in what you think you should, heat it up on a medium to high heat and then add the garlic and let it cook until fragrant.
3. Next step is adding the herbs and spices, you can basically use whatever Italian herbs you have got in your cupboard at this point but aim for about 1-2 Tbsp of the herbs – the more the merrier your taste-buds will be, and however much chilli and cayenne pepper makes you happy.
4. Brown the mince in the spice, garlic and oil mixture. This literally just means fry it until it is not raw or grey anymore, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Add the can of tomato puree, the carrots and the celery and give it all a mix before turning the heat down to let it all simmer.
6. While this saucey part is bubbling away making your kitchen smell good, you can deal with the cauliflower part.
The cauli-mash part:
There are two options for this, one is using a microwave, and two involves the old school no microwave approach, my parents have never owned a microwave and they have turned out just fine – as this recipe will if you want to cook like they did in the olden days.
Cauli Mash the Microwave-way:
1. Put your raw cauliflower in a food processor (hand held works just fine) and jjssssz jjssszz it until it looks a little bit like rice if you squint your eyes and turn your head sideways. (translation for jjssssz jjssszz is the noise the food processor makes incase you didn’t just go for the phonetic pronunciation there).
2. Put this ricey cauliflower in a microwave proof bowl and stick it in the microwave for 6-8 minutes. It will be really hot when it comes out.
3. Add as much butter as you feel comfortable with (anywhere from 1tsp to 2tbsp depending on how in there with Tim Noakes you feel you want to be), a little bit of milk and then using a hand blender blend it all up until you have a mash mixture. Season with salt and pepper. If you do not have a handblender, then you are going to have to go really old school and mash it by hand, but hey arms for the week will be done.
Cauli Mash the Old-school way:
1. Cover the cauliflower with boiling water in a pot on the stove
2. Let it cook until it is soft enough to stick a fork into it easily, usually about 10-15 minutes, and then drain the water and repeat step 3 as above.
Bolognaisey meet Cauli mash, cauli mash meet bognaisey.
In an oven dish you will now make a cool layered shepard’s/cottage pie thing. The first layer is the bolognaisey sauce, then the baby spinach and then the Cauli mash. Top it off with as much or as little cheese as you want (I used 2 tbsp grated mature cheddar because who can actually afford parmesan anymore) and then put it in the oven at about 180 for 10 minutes. Turn on the grill for a last couple of minutes to get the cheese all nice and brown and bubbly, making sure to check that it doesn’t get too brown like those people you see at the beach who look like they have never heard of the shade, umbrellas or factor-anything-suncream.
*If you know how to make a bolognaisey sauce or prefer to cook your mince your own way – that’s the beauty of this recipe, any mince base will work.
P.S. you just learnt how to make Cauli Mash – so who’s winning now 2-for-1 student specials?