Updated: Nov 5, 2018
I swapped traditional flat noodles for eggplant in this lasagna and stuffed the inside with more veggies, as well as grass-fed extra lean ground beef and, of course, cheese. This dish is naturally great for meat and veggie lovers and can be customized to fit different dietary restrictions (swap the beef for ground chicken or turkey, eliminate the meat completely to keep it all veg, or swap out the cheese for a dairy free version if you need). If you're looking for a hearty, veggie-filled crowd pleaser, this is your dish!
Ingredients (serves 8):
1 large eggplant (approximately 2 lbs.)
5 medium zucchini (I like to mix green and yellow zucchini to add more color)
1 bell pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
10 tomatoes (each tomato should be about the size of a baseball, no matter which variety you choose - I like to use roma tomatoes)
16 oz lean or extra lean ground beef
1 C plus 3/4 C ricotta cheese (I use part skim ricotta cheese)
16 oz fresh mozzarella
1/4 C oil (I like to use avocado oil or olive oil)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
4-5 basil leaves, washed and chopped (approximately 2 Tbsp chopped)
Nonstick cooking spray
*Note: See pictures of each step below
1. Wash and dry zucchini. Cut the ends off and use Spiralizer to make zucchini into the shape of noodles.
*Tip: This step can easily be done earlier in the day, or one to two days beforehand. Line airtight container with paper towel, place zucchini noodles in container on top of paper towel and store, covered, in fridge. This will eliminate time and clean-up, while allowing the zucchini noodles to dry out, since they hold a lot of water. If you don't do this step beforehand, sprinkling a dash of salt on top of the noodles and letting them sit out for at least 5-10 minutes will help to draw the water out, as well.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Wash and dry eggplant. Cut eggplant into slices (about 1/4" thick). Eggplant should yield approximately 20 slices. Heat griddle with 1-2 Tbsp oil over medium heat. Add the eggplant in a single layer and cook on each side until soft and browned. This step will likely need to be done in shifts in order to cook each slice. Drizzle oil as needed as you continue to add eggplant to griddle, leaving ~1 Tbsp for the next step. In order to save time, proceed to the next time as the eggplant is cooking in shifts.
4. Drizzle ~1 Tbsp oil into large saucepan and warm over medium heat. Add ground beef, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Use spatula to break up the meat into crumbles. Cook until meat is cooked through, mixing occasionally (it should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit).
5. Add chopped onion to cooked meat and cook for ~7-8 minutes, until onion is soft and translucent. Add minced garlic clove and cook another 2-3 minutes.
6. Wash and dry tomatoes. Cut into eights and remove the inside of the tomato (in order to prevent the sauce from getting watery). Add tomatoes to meat, along with the remainder of the spices ( salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder) and cook for approximately 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered for another 10 minutes. Remove cover, add basil and allow sauce to thicken slightly, keeping it over heat for another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Wash and dry bell pepper. Spray baking dish with nonstick cooking oil. Chop pepper and arrange on baking dish in a single layer, with no additional oil or seasoning. Bake in oven for approximately 10 minutes.
8. Spray large casserole dish (at least 9" x 13", although a larger dish will work, too) with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange cooked eggplant in one single layer on the bottom, using approximately half of the eggplant slices.
9. Squeeze excess water from zucchini noodles (wring with paper towel or cheesecloth). Top eggplant with zucchini noodles (raw) in a thin layer, using approximately half of the zucchini noodles. Add roasted bell pepper and distribute evenly throughout dish. Next, use a slotted spoon to transfer approximately half of the meat sauce over the first veggie layer, draining excess liquid through the slotted spoon and evenly distributing over the vegetables. Use a small spoon to place dollops of ricotta cheese throughout dish. Repeat, starting with adding the remainder of the zucchini noodles, then adding the remainder of the sauce (using the slotted spoon method to eliminate excess water), and the remainder of the ricotta cheese. Next, arrange the remainder of the eggplant slices in a single layer on top. Slice mozzarella into approximately 12 pieces and arrange on top of eggplant.
10. Bake in oven for approximately 15-20 minutes, until heated through. Enjoy! I served mine with crusty, whole grain bread to round out the meal with carbohydrates.
*Note: This is a great #mealprep dish and will last well in the fridge in an airtight container for about 3-4 days. Additional leftovers can be cut into individual servings and stored in the freezer.
Nutritional Analysis Per Serving (1 serving = 1/8th lasagna)
Calories 410 calories, Total Fat 25 g, Saturated Fat 11 g, Cholesterol 52 mg, Carbohydrates 21 g, Fiber 7 g, Protein 33 g, Sodium 327 mg, Calcium 302 mg
*Please Note: While this dish is free from gluten-containing ingredients, I recommend using certified gluten free products, including spices, if you need to avoid potential sources of cross contamination, as in the case of celiac disease.