Tuesday, November 5, 2013

CSA &Primal Cravings

So a little while back, my Mom and I signed up for a fall CSA share with the Good Food Collective. I couldn't be happier with the produce that I've received on a weekly basis thus far: tons of fresh lettuce, leafy greens, potatoes (yes, white potatoes... It seems as though the bigger names in the Paleo community have come to the conclusion that these are ok to eat, so long as you can tolerate nightshades...),  peppers, lots of apples, and eggplant. It's been ages since I've had eggplant! I gave them up when I was trying out the autoimmune protocol last February and haven't tried reintroducing them since. I hoped that this would be the perfect opportunity to do just that.

There was one problem. What the heck do I make with my new stash of eggplant? All I kept thinking about was how long it'd been since I'd had some lasagna or Italian sauce/pasta dish. It was always one of those things my Mom made for special occasions or on a holiday. Christmas dinner usually comprised of a big casserole dish of it. Cheesy. Saucy. YUMMY! Then it hit me. I'll make some sort of lasagna dish with the eggplant as the noodles. I give you:

Primal Eggplant Lasagna

(Looks messy, I know... Tastes divine!)

  • coconut oil, melted
  • 6-7 small eggplant (or two large ones)
  • 1 jar tomato sauce (I used Wegman's Diavolo Sauce)
  • 1 lb ground beef (preferably grass fed)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small container ricotta cheese (I used an organic sheep's milk ricotta)
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • dried herbs (like basil, oregano, thyme, etc...)
  • red chili flakes (optional)
  • Preheat the broiler of your oven and move the top rack to about 6 inches from the heating element.
  • Slice the eggplants into 1/4-1/2 inch slices. (If the skin is tough, feel free to peel it before slicing.) Toss with melted coconut oil and season with salt and pepper. Lay the slices in a single layer on a tinfoil lined baking sheet. Broil for a few minutes per side, basically until they turn golden brown.
  • Turn down the heat of the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Heat a pan over medium high heat. Add a little coconut oil, followed by the ground beef. Saute until starting to brown. Add the onions and garlic. Cook until the meat is browned and the onions are translucent. Season with salt, pepper, and chili flakes (if using).
  • Pour some of the tomato sauce into a 13x9" glass baking dish. Spread it around so it evenly covers the bottom. Place a single layer (about half) of the broiled eggplant in the dish. Put half of the browned meat over this. Sprinkle the ricotta cheese over that. Layer the remaining half of the ground meat mix over this. Lay the remaining half of the eggplant slices on. Top this with some more tomato sauce. Season with any desired herbs, pepper/salt, or red chili flakes. Place the dish in the oven and cook until everything is heated through and the sauce is bubbling, about 15-20 minutes.
  • Let the lasagna rest for about 5 minutes. You'll need to resist the urge to dig right in and scald your mouth.
I must admit that this is one of the tastiest dishes I've ever made! It totally reminds me of the lasagna my Mom made! The eggplant provides a nice substitute for the pasta that's flavorful and somewhat meaty. The sheep's milk ricotta is creamy and mild. If you can tolerate dairy, tomatoes, and eggplant, or just want to change up your lasagna routine, then this recipe is just for you!