Confession time. I honestly wasn’t planning on posting this. Like zero intention. Sometimes you just wanna cook and not measure a damn thing ya know? So let me just say, IM SORRY. I didn’t measure salt and pepper. I also didn’t precisely measure the amount of cashews, basil, garlic powder or kale. But I have a really good intuitive sense about measurements so TRUST ME. I got this. And so do you! There may be a lot of steps here, but it’s not hard. I believe in you.
According to my boyfriend, this lasagna is BETTER than restaurant lasagna (in my opinion anything is better than restaurant lasagna). But hey, he went back for seconds and inhaled the stuff so I take it as a compliment. But I don’t blame him, this paleo eggplant lasagna is sooooo creamy, flavorful and SUPER satiating. Let’s get cookin’!
Let me walk ya through a little bit. First things first, start soaking the cashews ASAP. I grabbed a 24 oz mason jar (you can use any large container with a lid), dumped in the cashews and filled the container with water. Let the cashews soak on your counter for 24 hours. Okay, you could probably get away with 8 hours. But for that silky creamy goodness just give yourself 24 and be safe. Set it and forget it!
Fast forward to the night of. Cut both ends off the eggplant to create a flat surface, slice the WHOLE thing long ways into ½ inch pieces. Drizzle with olive/avocado oil, S&P and roast till soft. Sweet. Let them cool while you tackle the rest.
Steam cauliflower until a fork can go all the way through with little effort. Dump soaked cashews, cooked cauli, salt, pepper, garlic powder and lemon juice into a food processor or high-powered blender. Blend away baby! It should be creamy dreamy and no lumps what so ever. Stick in the fridge to cool until assembly.
The meat sauce is the easy part. I’m not going to bore you with how to dump things in a pot and simmer away. Just make sure you let it cool for 5 minutes before building the lasagna.
OKAY, now for the fun part. Really, it’s super fun! To build the lasagna I lightly greased an 8 X 8 glass dish. If you like PHAT pieces, use this dish. You could use something slightly larger though. I first tried it in a 9 X 13 and it did NOT work what so ever. Too big. Anywho. First step, become an eggplant tetris master. Use those skills to create a sturdy eggplant base. Next, add a THICK layer of cheese sauce, followed by meat sauce. Repeat. Also, my layers of cheese and meat got smaller as I built higher. I realized I made the layers of sauces too big, but there was no going back. Don’t be like me and make your layers more even. I topped it off with a layer of eggplant to seal the deal. Pop into the oven for 45 minutes. Let it cool for 15 (be patient!!) then you’re gucci.
The longer it cools, the easier it is to cut. It’s even BETTER the next day after the lasagna is refrigerated. I also did some price tallying today, and one serving costs around $3!! Beat THAT Olive Garden.
Paleo Eggplant Lasagna
Serves: 6-8 Cooking Time: 2 hours (ish)
2 large purple eggplants + any oil for roasting
2 cups of cashews (I measured after they were soaked, which makes them expand. So you may need a little less than 2 cups)
1 small-medium head of cauliflower
Juice of 1/2 a lemon (for cashew cheese)
1/2 tsp garlic powder (for cashew cheese)
1 lb 90% lean grass-fed or organic ground beef
1 can of organic diced tomatoes, 14.5 ounces
1 can of organic tomato paste, 6 ounces
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 minced cloves of garlic
2 cups of kale
1/2 cup of chopped basil
1 tsp baking soda
- The day before, place cashews in a large glass container with a lid (like a mason jar), cover with water and soak for 24 hours. But anywhere from 8-12 should be okay.
- Day of: Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Take the eggplants and cut off both ends to create flat surfaces. Standing the eggplants on the largest flat surface, cut all the way down lengthwise into 1/2 inch strips. You could also use a mandolin slicer.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and lay the eggplant slices flat on the sheet, making sure not to overlap pieces. Rub with olive oil/avocado oil, season lightly with salt & pepper.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes. Eggplant should be soft, pliable and slightly brown. You may have to bake in batches if it won’t all fit on 2 sheets. Let them cool while the other components are being made.
- Cut cauliflower into florets and steam until a fork slides easily all the way through each floret (10-15 min)
- While the cauliflower is cooking, in a large pot begin browning the ground beef on medium heat.
- When the meat is almost browned, add in chopped onion, minced garlic, salt and pepper.
- When the cauliflower is done, place in a high speed blender with soaked cashews, lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Blend until SUPER creamy. You don’t want any lumps, but don’t pulverize it so much the mixture gets watery.
- Place cashew cheese mix in the fridge to cool while sauce is finishing.
- To the beef, onion and garlic mixture add tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Then add diced tomatoes, and let that mixture simmer for 10 minutes.
- Season liberally with salt and pepper.
- To finish the sauce, turn the heat off and add the kale so it wilts. Also add the baking soda and basil. Let this mixture cool for just a minute off the heat. TIP: the baking soda makes canned tomatoes less acidic.
- TIME TO ASSEMBLE
- In an 8X8 or slightly larger baking dish (only slightly larger or it won’t work out), very lightly oil the bottom and sides. Then make a layer of sliced eggplant so it covers the bottom.
- Spread on a thick layer of cashew cheese, followed by a layer of meat sauce.
- Repeat until you run out, and top with a single layer of eggplant. I managed to repeat the layering process twice after the initial.
- Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes, then uncover and bake for 10 minutes.
- Let cool for 15 minutes (at least) and dig in!!
To save time you can bake the eggplant off a day in advance and store in the fridge. You could also make the cashew cheese ahead of time and store in the fridge until use. I did not measure salt and pepper. Use your best judgment and don’t be afraid of seasonings. Taste as you go and it will turn out fabulous!