Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Noodle free lasagna

We are coming up on the last few days of this no-carb cleanse and I am about to lost my mind. I literally dream about the pizza I would order in a carb-filled alternate life. So when it came to making dinner last night, I needed it to be as close to a "real" meal as possible. I was going to make a no noodle lasagna, but all I was planning was some beef, sauce, and cheese in a casserole dish. Then I realized that eggplant or squash are often used as replacements for noodles in gluten-free recipes....

THEN I thought it would be tasty to pan fry the eggplant first and get it crispy....
THEN I realized it would be even tastier if there was some sort of crispy crust.... But crispy crusts are often breadcrumbs and I can't eat those and that makes me sad.... but
THEN I cheered up when I realized a coating of egg and parmesan would be both tasty and  carb-free.
Then I just got excited. The complete experiment went a little like this:

I bought these two lovely baby eggplants- for this recipe, I actually only used one. I'm pretty sure the other will get the same coating/pan fry treatment and then just served as-is. Yum.

-1 baby eggplant
-1 egg, scrambled
-Approx 1 c grated fresh parmesan
        -(you can use the pre-shredded in a tub at the grocery store, but I'm not sure you will get the same melty/crispy coating when they are fried...
 -1 can plain tomato sauce
       - I chose this because it has less added ingredients (no added sugar) and I could season it as I chose. In  future renditions, I might just peel/cook my own sauce.
-Italian seasoning
-Garlic powder
- 1 pound lean ground beef
-1/2 onion, sliced into thin rings (I recommend the mandolin)
-Approx 1 c. ricotta. (Fresh would be ideal here, but if you live in a place like West Lafayette, IN, you go with the part-skim that the market carries...
-Extra fresh parm, grated
- Mozzarella- some shredded and a few slices for the top. Fresh definitely works best here...

Ok, to start, I thinly sliced the eggplant using my favorite kitchen gadget- the mandolin. I sliced them particularly thin because I wanted them to crisp in the pan and because I'm not a huge fan of big bites of cooked eggplant... I cut off the skin- ends and did not use those:

Then I took them through your basic "breading" station- I dipped them in the beaten egg and then lightly coated them with parm. I coated them rather lightly and did not worry if there were a few bits of naked eggplant coming through, as I did not want extra cheese falling off and mucking up my pan...

I gave the pan a generous glug of EVOO and let the oil get pretty hot over medium high heat. I would be careful what kind of pan you use for this step. I am still using and loving my ceramic coated non-stick pans. They give me a great sear without anything sticking.

The result = a plate of crispy, cheesy, yummy eggplant fries. I may have eaten 1... or 2... while I was waiting for the final batch. Which is why I plan on doing the same thing for my second baby eggplant and then just eating them all... like little flat eggplant french fries.

While I was finished the 3rd and 4th batches (I cooked about 3 slices/batch, changing out the oil after the 2nd batch), I put the tomato sauce into a small pan. I gave it a liberal shot of italian seasoning, garlic powder (because I was sadly not in the mood to saute fresh - I would suggest doing so if you have the time), and S&P. Then I just stirred it all in and let it come to a slow boil. Voila.

Also, after slicing the eggplant, I started browning the ground beef. When it was done, I strained it and sliced the onions and garlic into the pan with a glug of EVOO. I cooked them until soft and then stirred in the beef with some additional italian seasoning and S&P.

No, the one on the end does NOT look like it has been bitten.....
Now we begin the layering process. I sprayed the pan with PAM and put a layer of the eggplant on the bottom to make serving easier. 

I topped it with a layer of beef and onions and half of the tomato sauced. This got topped with some of the grated parm, shredded mozz, and a layer of ricotta.

I topped the ricotta with another layer of eggplant and repeated the full layering process. I finished with a 3rd layer of eggplant, parm, and sliced mozz:

I put it in the oven at 350 for about 30 mins until the top got all bubbly and I could see that the ricotta had melted through the side of the pan.

 I served it with a lovely caprese salad (my favorite combinations of flavors ever):

The final gooey, cheesy product

I was very pleased with the outcome and this is a recipe I think I would make again- even when we're not low-carbing. The leftovers were also great for lunch today. I'm pretty sure my officemate was coveting my eggplant-y goodness....


  1. This looks good! What are the carb counts for 1 serving?

  2. I just tried eggplant lasagna the other day, but it was the no-meat variety. I'm going to have to try this recipe b/c it looks a lot yummier. Also, I didn't think of the egg/cheese fry for leftover eggplant, I've been wondering what to do with it. Thanks!

  3. The whole thing has 75 g of carbs - 24 g of fiber = approx 51 grams. It made 6 large servings, so I would say less than 10 grams per serving.

  4. This looks AMAZING!!! I definitely want to make this!!