This hearty recipe takes the traditional lasagna preparation and packs it full of vegetables instead of noodles. The layers are composed of yellow squash, eggplant, mushrooms, and zucchini. This not only adds a lot of color to your lasagna but also makes it incredibly healthy for you. And you won’t even notice the lack of actual lasagna pasta noodles. This is a tasty, filling dish to bake for big appetites.
Like regular lasagna, the preparation and layers take some patience to put together. It’s a good recipe for creating with kids or other people, making it a fun team effort to help prepare all the separate components and assemble. The weekend is the perfect time to try it out.
The key to this lasagna, besides all the fresh produce, is the hearty and delicious meat sauce. The sauce should not be rushed. Instead it should be kept at a slow and lazy simmer to develop a ton of flavor. You might have extra meat sauce left over, which freezes well for a later date. This is also one of the only recipes where I use red wine, but you can simply substitute chicken stock if you don’t want to use alcohol.
While the meat cooks, prepare the veggies. Use a mandolin or sharp knife to slice the veggies into long, thin strips. Since you want to avoid making watery lasagna with all the vegetables, it’s a good idea to toss them with a bit of salt and let them drain for about 15 minutes. Then rinse off and pat dry before adding to the baking dish. The eggplant also needs to quickly cook on the stove first.
While the lasagna is baking, blend the cauliflower into a rice-like consistency and add to the same pan that you used for the eggplant. Sauté the cauliflower with a little olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Then sprinkle it on top of the lasagna instead of a heavy, cheesy sauce.
The recipe makes a huge dish of food and since it is gluten-free and dairy-free, it’s great for serving any type of visitors. Impress family and friends with an indulgent dish that takes a little extra effort to make but packs a lot of flavor.
- 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 sprigs thyme
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 eggplant, sliced lengthwise thinly
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 yellow squash, sliced thinly
- 1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves
- 8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- 2 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise into ribbons
- 1/2 head cauliflower
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- To make the meat sauce, place the onion and garlic in a food processor and pulse to finely chop. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 12-15 minutes until beginning to brown, stirring frequently.
- Add the beef to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes until browned. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the red wine to the pan and cook for 5 more minutes.
- Add the tomato sauce, bay leaf, and thyme to the pan. Bring to a simmer, and then add 1/2 cup water. Cook at a low simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary. Adjust seasonings to taste. Discard the bay leaf and thyme.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and set aside for 15 minutes to drain. Rinse and pat dry. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the eggplant for 2-3 minutes per side until golden.
- Layer the lasagna in a baking dish. Start by layering the yellow squash as the base. Add one third of the meat sauce on top of that, then lay the eggplant slices, fresh basil, and mushrooms. Next add the rest of the meat sauce, then the spinach, zucchini, and finally drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 40-45 minutes.
- While the lasagna is baking, place the cauliflower in a blender and process until it reaches a rice-like consistency. Add to a skillet and sauté with the olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper over medium heat. Cook for 6-8 minutes until soft, adding a tablespoon of water if necessary. After the lasagna has cooked for 20 minutes, sprinkle with the cauliflower and return to the oven for the remaining cooking time. Serve hot.
- Servings: 5-6
- Difficulty: Hard
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