I was one of those people who went to the grocery store before the blizzard. Except I waited until the first flakes began to fall, and then I headed out to avoid the zoo. It was a good strategy.
I did not, however, go to the store for eggs, milk, and bread like everyone jokes about. I had a list of ingredients for some recipes I wanted to try, and in the event that I got snowed in I had big plans for cooking. We sure did get snowed in, with snow totaling 32″ in our area and I sure did cook. When the blizzard hit, I made junk food to celebrate. I also spent a few hours trying some paleo-ish recipes.
The recipe I’m sharing with you this week was inspired by something I found on Pinterest, but it’s my own recipe. Eggplant lasagna simply uses eggplant as your lasagna noodles. The original recipe caught my eye because of the use of eggplant, but I didn’t like the ingredients or method so I just made my own. I LOVED the idea of using eggplant for lasanga noodles instead of zucchini, which most people do. I like zucchini, but I think eggplant is more fitting for this type of dish. When I think of italian dishes, I think of things like eggplant parm or eggplant rollatini. The use of eggplant in place of lasagna noodles just makes sense to me.
With that being said, if the eggplant thing turns you off, just replace “eggplant” with “zucchini” and you will get a similar result. It’s funny how many people informed me that they are not an eggplant fan. Personally, I LOVE it. I prefer it to zucchini and squash. But I am realizing that a lot of people don’t feel that eggplant love. It’s cool. You can still enjoy some fake lasagna noodles using an alternate veggie if eggplant isn’t your jam.
The thing that makes this recipe paleo “ish” is the addition of cheese. Cheese is a grey area in the paleo world. While there is no evidence that dairy was consumed in the Paleolithic era, many people who follow a Paleo diet eat cheese in moderation. I’m one of those people. Honestly, I’d be happy if you gave me a huge chunk of any kind of cheese to gnaw on. I love it that much…thus why I’m an in moderation person. Cutting it out is out of the question.
I try to use organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed, full fat and fermented products when I can find it and if my budget allows. If you want to go even further, try to find raw dairy direct from the farmer, which will retain all the original properties of the milk. We do have some local dairy farmers that sell their products to the general public, but I haven’t investigated that.
I always use the full fat, whole milk options when it comes to dairy. I believe having fat in your diet is healthy as long as you are consuming the good fats. I also don’t agree with the process that dairy goes through to make something “low fat” (like skim, 1% and 2% milk) because it goes through a scary process and raises the sugar levels in the product. And what does sugar do? It’s metabolized in your body both as a carbohydrate and as a fat. I could go on and on, but that’s a post for a different day. Mostly, I want to you feel the eggplant lasagna love so feel free to use whatever your dairy preference is.
This was SO GOOD, and my husband LOVED it. He loves real pasta, but he really enjoyed this lasagna variation and didn’t miss it. You can certainly change this recipe up – swap out the beef for ground turkey or ground sausage, etc. I had the beef on hand so that was my choice of protein. It’s not the prettiest to photograph:
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lb grass fed ground beef
- 1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- 3 cups of shredded mozzarella
- 2 ounces (about a half cup) of parmesan reggiano (or pecorino romano)
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh basil, roughly chopped
- Olive oil
- Crushed red pepper
- Preheat oven to 425.
- Slice the eggplant about 1/4″ thick and place on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes, flipping each piece halfway through.
- Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and heat on medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, 5-6 minutes.
- Add the garlic, a pinch of crushed red pepper, and a pinch of dried basil. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the ground beef and saute. Using a wooden spoon, break up the chunks and cook until the meat is browned and loses its raw color.
- Add the can of tomato sauce and another pinch of crushed red pepper and dried basil. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Off the heat, season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped fresh basil.
- Place a small amount of the sauce at the bottom of a 9×13 dish (or casserole dish of similar size) and spread around in a thin layer (to prevent the eggplant from sticking). Place a layer of eggplant “noodles” on the bottom of the pan. Add half of the sauce/meat mixture and spread on top of the eggplant. Add 1 cup of the mozzarella, and a few tablespoons of the parmesan. Add another layer of eggplant noodles, another cup of mozzarella, and more parmesan. Add the final layer of eggplant noodles, the final cup of cheese, and remaining parmesan.
- Bake, uncovered, for 12-15 minutes at 425 or until the lasagna is bubbling. Let it sit for a few minutes, and enjoy!
- If you make this dish ahead and refrigerate it, just take it out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour. Place in the the oven at 425, covered with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil, and bake for 15 more minutes or until bubbling.