Ever since I went low carb I’ve been missing lasagna. I’ve tried substituting eggplant for the pasta but it’s always turned out too wet, mushy, and disappointing. This time I nailed it! It’s delicious in it’s own right and not just a substitute for traditional lasagna. Coating the eggplant in crispy almond flour does the trick. The almond flour, like pasta, absorbs the liquid thrown off by the vegetables and sauce.
The meat sauce makes this dish. This recipe is for ground beef, but you can substitute ground chicken or turkey. If you have the time (about 7 minutes of prep and 30 minutes of mostly unattended cooking time), homemade sauce tastes worlds better than jarred. The good news is that you can make the meat sauce 3 days ahead of time. Actually, the entire lasagna can be made 1 day ahead and reheated at 350°. Like pretty much anything with tomato sauce, it tastes even better the next day.
If you’d like a vegetarian dish, just leave out the meat. It will still taste really good.
- Homemade Tomato Sauce - double recipe, or 3 1/2 cups jarred tomato sauce
- 3 1/2 pounds eggplant, sliced into 3/4" thick rounds
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 scant cup almond flour
- 2 onions, chopped
- 3 celery ribs, chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds. ground beef, chicken, or turkey
- 3 large zucchini, cubed into 1/2"-3/4" pieces
- 1 - 1 1/2 pounds grated part-skim mozzarella
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 450° and place one oven rack on the bottom level of the oven and one at the top.
- Brush all the eggplant slices with oil on both sides. Put almond flour on a plate. Coat each eggplant slice with almond flour: place one side on almond flour, press slightly, turn over and do other side. When coated, place each slice on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Continue until all slices are coated. Eggplant slices should not overlap. You'll need 2 large baking sheets.
- Place baking sheets on bottom rack of oven. (Note: You may need to do this in batches if both your baking sheets don't fit side by side on 1 rack. Do not put baking sheets one above the other.) Cook until underside of eggplant are brown (lift up the corner to check the underside), and eggplant is soft when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes or so. When nearing the end of the cooking time, check frequently because they go from not done to done pretty quickly. Make sure not to burn them.
- When brown on the underside, remove baking sheets from oven, leaving eggplant in place on sheets - do not flip them over. Turn oven temperature to broil and place baking sheets on the upper rack of the oven. Broil until top is brown, about 2-3 minutes, checking constantly since this happens quickly. Remove from the oven and salt lightly.
- In a large pan, saute onions in 1/4 cup olive oil on medium high heat until softened. Add celery and continue cooking a few minutes until softened. Add ground meat and continue cooking, crumbling up the beef, until cooked through and no pink is left. Add tomato sauce, salt, and pepper to taste.
- Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in large pan and sauté zucchini on medium high heat until browned and soft when pierced with a fork. This works best in a nonstick pan. Salt lightly.
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Lay half the eggplant in a 3 quart baking dish (pyrex 9"x13"). Top with half the meat sauce, half the zucchini, and half the mozzarella. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices and ingredients.
- Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbling and cheese is browned.
- You'll be making 3 things - eggplant, meat sauce, and cooked vegetables. Instead of making one, waiting, making the other, waiting some more, you can save time by overlapping them. I start the tomato sauce first because it takes about 30 minutes and the only thing it needs is stirring from time to time. While that's happening, I get the eggplant breaded and baking. After the sauce and eggplant are done, I cook the meat for the sauce and saute the zucchini in 2 pans simultaneously.