I was never much of an eggplant eater. I don’t think I had ever tried it until my vegetarian days. And then when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis last year and started the autoimmune protocol, I cut out all nightshades which includes eggplant. And then when I started adding non AIP things back into my diet, I just never really ate eggplant. That is until I started getting several eggplant in my CSA basket each week.
You know I can’t let food go to waste. So what do I do when I have a veggie I don’t know what to do with? I turn to Pinterest of course! What else?!? And that’s where I got the idea to use the eggplant as lasagna noodles. Of course I made it my own, meaning I simplified it a whole bunch while still keeping it incredibly flavorful and delicious. And to keep it dairy free I created a cashew “ricotta cheese” which doesn’t taste a whole lot like ricotta on it’s own, but in the lasagna it adds an incredible creaminess that totally simulates real ricotta. Seriously, I didn’t even miss the cheese. That’s not to say that I would complain if there was a bit of fresh mozzarella sprinkled on top though, but my belly might 🙂
While this recipe does take a bit of time (a lot of which is hands off time), it’s definitely much easier than traditional lasagna. The hardest part in my opinion is slicing the eggplant evenly. I’ve never been all that good at that. Other than that it’s just a matter of cooking some stuff on the stove and blending stuff in a blender plus a little patience while things soak, sweat, and bake. Then you throw it all in a cast iron skillet and bake it and you’re left with a delicious and perfectly rustic lasagna that kicks regular lasagna’s butt in the health department and the flavor department! Or you can double the recipe and put it in a 9×13 baking dish if you’d prefer. Either way it’s delicious!
- For eggplant "noodles":
- 2 small (or 1 large) eggplant, peeled (optional, but it's easier to cut when peeled)
- 1 Tbs salt
- For sauce:
- 1 lb mild Italian sausage
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 cups tomato paste (2 4oz cans)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp oregano
- For cashew ricotta cheese:
- 1 cup cashews
- ¼ cup lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 Tbs water
- 4 oz spinach (I used frozen but fresh should work too)
- For eggplant "noodles": Thinly slice eggplant lengthwise. Lay out on towel and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes until it starts to sweat. Press out excess water and wipe off excess salt.
- For sauce: Add sausage, onion and garlic to a large pot and cook until sausage is browned. Add tomato sauce and spices.
- For cashew ricotta: Soak cashew for 2 hours. Drain water. Add cashews, lemon juice, garlic, salt and water to food processor or high powered blender and blend until smooth. Stir in spinach.
- To assemble: Pour a small amount of sauce into a 10 inch cast iron skillet and spread along bottom. Add a layer of eggplant slices. Carefully spread cashew ricotta over eggplant slices in an even layer. Top with a enough sauce to cover. Repeat until ingredients are gone (mine made 2 layers).
- Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
So tell me… are you an eggplant fan?
In vibrant health,