Eggplant lasagna is a popular option for foodies who are also fans of the paleo lifestyle. You can find numerous recipe ideas out there. The twist on this recipe is it’s versatility. We stay truly paleo by avoiding store-bought tomato products and sticking with items that come directly from the Earth – as if you were a gatherer of long ago.
Our recipe for eggplant lasagna does not have you buying marinara in a jar or canned tomatoes, but rather using that abundance of fresh tomatoes from your garden or that sack of tomatoes a friend brought over to share. By avoiding store-bought, already seasoned products, this also gives you options for flavor profiles. You can take this dish in many directions other than just Italian.
So many reasons to create this paleo-friendly dish:
- Easy to prepare
- Inexpensive ingredients
- Versatility with flavor profiles (Italian, Latin, Mediterranean)
- Uses an abundance of garden fresh vegetables
- You can have healthy leftover meals for a few days
- Easy to make ahead of time and bake when ready; freezes beautifully
- Excellent option for sharing at a work/church event where you’d like a paleo option
Paleo Eggplant Lasagna (Grain Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free)
Serves: 6 to 8
A 9×13 glass pan is recommended for this scrumptious entree. Stainless steel is also acceptable. Avoid aluminum pans as they can have an undesirable chemical reaction with the acidity of the tomatoes.
- 1 large eggplant, cut lengthwise into about 1/4-inch slices
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound ground grass-fed beef or bison (you could substitute other meats per your preference)
- 1 medium onion chopped per your preference, finely chopped is recommended
- A few mushrooms if you like (optional) sliced or chopped
- 5 or 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 8 garden fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded
- 6 oz can of tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1/4 cup fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1/4 cup fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- a few leaves of fresh parsley or a few pinches of dried parsley
- teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 °F. Grease your baking pan with either cooking spray, or rub down with unsalted butter.
- (Optional step) Some recipes suggest roasting your eggplant sheets for a few minutes to soften them, but it is not necessary. They will cook when you bake the entire lasagna. If you prefer more al dente texture to the eggplant, then do not pre-roast the sheets. If you want your eggplant to be very soft, then roast the eggplant sheets on a sheet pan for about 10 minutes prior to constructing the lasagna. Brush them first with the olive oil to prevent sticking, and check them with a fork as they roast to determine your desired softness. Keep in mind, they will get even softer as they bake later.
- In a pot, brown ground beef over medium heat, stirring occasionally to cook evenly and to render the fat from the meat.
- Drain excess grease.
- Put pan back on the heat and add onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Cook until the onions and mushrooms have softened a bit.
- Add your fresh tomatoes and tomato paste; stir together to blend well with the meat.
- Now you can add your herbs and seasonings: oregano, basil, pepper, and parsley.
- Simmer over low-medium heat for about 15 minutes to allow all flavors to meld together beautifully.
- Use a large spoon to put about 1/3 of the sauce in the bottom your lasagna pan.
- Put a layer of eggplant on top of the sauce, then continue to create layers until all product is used.
- Make the top layer just sauce. You can cook right away or cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to cook.
- Bake eggplant lasagna until heated through, about 30 minutes if freshly made or 40-45 minutes if it has been refrigerated.
- Once removed from the oven, allow to sit for about 10-15 minutes before cutting. It will stay very hot, but will hold together better after it sits.
NOTE: the beauty of any lasagna is that it can be made a day or two ahead of time, then baked the day you need it.
When you see the word “lasagna” you immediately taste those flavors of Italy. As stated in the beginning of this post, this recipe is designed to allow versatility. Here are some ideas:
- Replace the Italian herbs (parsley, basil and oregano) with cinnamon, ginger, allspice and a touch of cayenne and you’ve created a Greek flavor profile, similar to the classic Greek dish, moussaka.
- Season your beef with cumin, chili powder, and cayenne to create a Mexican flavor profile. Also consider chopping fresh cilantro into your tomatoes along with garden fresh jalapeño peppers to kick it up.
As with most food ideas, the possibilities are endless. This dish is always a crowd favorite as it is interesting and delicious. A paleo diet can be fun and adventurous when you expand the flavor profiles to reach around the world.