I want to call this paleo lasagne, but the truth is that I cheated and put a little mozzarella cheese on the top. However – if you’re strong enough to forgo the cheese, then yes, this would be a paleo meal, which means free from dairy, grains, sugars…. etc. Personally, I believe that by adding a little cheese on top it makes the meal feel much more decadent than it actually is and it’s certainly not going to break the calorie bank like a regular lasagne would, because of course the calorie riches lie in the pasta and bechamel sauce and if you buy 5% mince, you’re whittling the fat content down further.
I’ve been removing pasta, noodles, rice and most potato from my nightly meals for a long time now and while at first it felt weird, I honestly don’t miss them anymore. Well maybe sometimes. I still eat my usual recipes but instead of serving them up with mash or pasta, I serve up with cabbage and leeks or mixed vegetables. I haven’t introduced more meat into my diet, rather I’ve increased my vegetable intake which has meant that I’ve learned lots of new ways to eat and enjoy vegies, and while it isn’t strictly paleo – balance always wins out over any strict diets.
This recipe took me some time to perfect. I’ve played around with it by adding spinach or not roasting the vegetables but find that it becomes watery which is what you don’t want for this meal. You want a lovely rich bolognaise sandwiched between silky layers of aubergine and courgette. This recipe is ideal for those wanting to reduce their carbs and dairy in their evening meal. The bolognaise might seem like an overly simplified recipe, but believe me, I’ve tried bolognaise every which way and I keep coming back to my mum’s recipe.
500g of 5% beef mince
1 onion, diced
2 garlic, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste/puree (concentrate)
1 beef stock cube/pod
2 very large courgettes, sliced length ways into 0.5cm thickness
1 aubergine, sliced into 1cm discs.
Lay the slices of courgette and aubergine on a baking tray and bake until they’ve gone wrinkly and brown. No need for oil, but don’t let them over cook or they’ll go crispy and burnt as opposed to creamy.
For the bolognaise, saute the onion and garlic, then add the mince and cook on high heat until all the meat is browned.
Add the tomato paste and stir in, still on high heat. This is an important step in creating good flavour.
Add enough water to cover the meat, add the stock cube and bring to the boil.
Once the pot has come to the boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for as long as possible, topping up with water as needed. Season with salt and pepper, throw some chopped parsley in if you like.
If you’re time challenged, half an hour will suffice, but you’ll miss out on the fuller flavours. Simmer the meat until it’s become almost dry. This is important, as you don’t want the lasagne to become watery. Let it cool if you can.
Assemble layers of aubergine, courgette and meat in a small corning ware dish or baking tray.
Top the final layer with a bit of cheese and if you have some, a spattering of tomato-based pasta sauce is always nice. I usually keep some in the fridge for pizza night.
Roast for about 30 – 40 minutes in a moderate oven until the cheese is bubbled and brown.
Let it cool down a bit before you serve it up. This will not only prevent a burnt tongue, but it helps the dish congeal and hold together a little better on the plate.