Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Eggplant Lasagna


 
 
 
I know, I know - just hear me out on this one. But Kelli, you say, how in the name of all that is holy can you make paleo/whole30 compliant lasagna? No cheese? No noodles? What's even left?! The good stuff, that's what!
 
Now don't get me wrong, I love regular ol' lasagna. I love it with ooey, gooey cheese on top, cottage cheese layers throughout with yummy noodles holding it all together. Just the thought makes me drool a little. And then the drool running down my ten chins shocks me back into reality, and back to yesterday when I decided for the first time this summer to lay out. Burned into my poor little brain is the sight of my reflection in the mirror....before it shattered into a million pieces while screaming, "no! NOOOO! Make it go away!!" So, no more cheese or bread for this beached whale for the foreseeable future.
 
But I still have to eat food. I know, because I've tried it a million times over and over again, that starving myself doesn't work...unless I am really, really dedicated to it and live by myself and don't have any food or really any money to buy it. I'm not that lucky (?) anymore, plus this whole getting-old lack of metabolism  business is really getting to me. So I know there is really only one way to work toward getting back to a healthy, happy size, and that's the old-fashioned way. The hard way. The way that really, really sucks because it's not a quick fix. It's a lifestyle change. I have to commit to eating clean and working out, every dang day. Even as I think about it I sigh aloud and silently curse those lucky people who are naturally skinny and never workout or diet, and also those who are just as lucky to be perfectly content with their bodies exactly how they are. I hate you. Ok, not really. Just a little. So I run my fat legs off every day, and I eat good food. And I cross my fingers and pray that I'll start noticing change soon.  
 
All that ranting brings me to this new recipe. It's completely clean, so low fat that there is barely enough to count, and most importantly, it's genuinely delicious! I found it originally through a Pinterest link to Cave Food Kitchen but modified it quite extensively. You can check out their post, though, for a way to mix it up if you'd like.  
         
 
The quality of these pictures is crap. I know this. iPhone photography for the win. Not.  
So, as to be expected, when I decided to make this recipe it was ten minutes before I wanted to start making dinner and I had to run to the grocery at the last minute. I had everything I needed other than eggplants, and assumed they would have a couple at Wal-Mart. Wrong assumption. They had one. Just. One.  And it was a little rough, but my mind was set on making this so I bought the one lone squishy eggplant. Oh, the joys of small town life. (I only used one for this recipe, but two would have been best.)

Please ignore the condition of my poor eggplant. It still tasted good, I promise.

The recipe called for one centimeter thick slices of eggplant, and I was like hold up- this is America, you know we don't do the metric system here. And then I figured out that the blogger lives in Amsterdam. Which is in no way important to this recipe but it was at that moment. My grasp of centimeters is about as good as my grasp of why you should stay focused on one thing and not have to research where people are from before you just make their dang recipe, so I was a little lost. But then Pampered Chef saved the day! Every time I cook I use my Flexible Cutting Mats. To me, they are so much easier to use than heavy cutting boards and much easier to store. Plus, they have measurements right on the mat! The top has inches and the bottom has centimeters. How convenient, right?!

 I sliced the eggplant, sprinkled with salt, pepper, and olive oil and then put it into the oven on a baking sheet. It was yet again another moment when I wished I had ordered the Large Sheet Pan to add to my collection of small and medium sizes because things got a little cramped.

The eggplant had to bake for 20 minutes total (ten on each side) so while it was going in the over I got started on the rest of the recipe. My next task was to mix up seasoning for the ground turkey.

Now, if you haven't ever used ground turkey you are missing out, big time! It is a little more pricey than ground beef (and I don't think we even have ground pork at Wal-Mart) but it is so much lighter and leaner. And if you get the 100% white meat kind, it's 99% fat free! You can't beat that. (Well, unless it was 100% fat free....) The thing with ground turkey is that you have to season it heavily because it isn't as flavorful as beef or pork.



The original recipe called for their blend of Sausage Seasoning but I genius-ly read only half the recipe while pushing my little cart through the Wal-Marts. So I improvised and kind of just made up my own blend. I added oregano, basil, parsley, garlic powder, salt, chili flakes, and sage. To get it all mixed up and blended together, I used my handy dandy Mix N' Chop and it was the PERFECT size to go in my Small Bamboo Bowl as a sort of make-shift mortar and pestle.


How do I not realize how terrible these pics are when I take them??
It's a lot of seasoning. A LOT. I was a little afraid that I had over seasoned it at first. But I just took my Mix N' Chop and mixed and chopped the seasoning into the turkey until it went from pink to white and beginning to brown. Then, to avoid washing ten million dishes, I dumped the cooked meat out onto a plate and re-used the skillet for the sauce.

Yes, those are eggs. In pasta sauce.
Ok, so this is where things got a little weird. The recipe called for you to make a pasta-sauce type tomato mixture (I just used my trusty Victoria sauce that I talk about in the zucchini linguini recipe). And into that mixture, they said, I should add eggs. Four whole eggs. I know. I was as confused as you surely are. Eggs? Into red pasta sauce? Surely not. This lady from Amsterdam has been smoking too much. But, I figured, she said the recipe was really good so why not try it. My trust was a little low, though, so I only used 2 eggs instead of four, and I was happy with that decision. I also added a cup of mushrooms, mostly to supplement my lack of eggplant.

The eggs do something kind of magical to the sauce. They almost scrambled, and gave the illusion of a cottage-cheese type filling. It was really quite tasty and gave it great texture.

Next up was putting the lasagna together. I really was not feeling up to baking this for another 30 minutes in the oven, so I pulled out my trusty Rockcrok. If you've ever been to one of my Pampered Chef parties or seen me set up at a Festival or Expo, you've likely heard me preach about the Rockcrok. It is such an awesome product- so versatile and easy to use. You can use it in the oven. Under the broiler. On the stovetop. In the microwave. Y'all, you can even use it on the grill, and then throw it in the dishwasher when you're done. Bake a cake in it (if you're not on a whole30) in the microwave in FOUR MINUTES. A whole cake, baked in four minutes. Seriously, it's amazing. The only downfall is that it is a little pricey, but that's why you should have a party and get it for half-price! So instead of 30 minutes in the oven, I covered it with the lid and put it in the microwave. For ten minutes. And it was perfect, in twenty minutes less than if I had made it the normal way in the oven in a conventional pan! You've got to ask me about how you can get your own Rockcrok!!



I spritzed the pan lightly with olive oil using the Kitchen Spritzer and then added a layer of eggplant, then turkey, then sauce, and then repeated it all.



Ten minutes in the microwave later, lasagna was done! It was even approved by my non-whole30/paleo parents....they added a sprinkle of cheese to the top of theirs, but I enjoyed mine thoroughly without!


Apparently I dreamed that I took a picture of it once it was sliced and on my plate....I guess I was too busy eating it! And I did eat it- that night for dinner, the next morning for breakfast, and then again for lunch!!!
 
 
 
Eggplant Lasagna
Serves 6 | Prep 15 min | Cook 30 min | Whole30/Paleo compliant

Ingredients:
1 eggplant
1 1/4 lbs of ground turkey
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
3 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp chili flakes
2 tsp sage
2 cups marinara sauce
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2  eggs
salt & pepper
olive oil for cooking
Directions:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350.
2. Slice the eggplants length-wise into 1 cm thick slices. Spray some olive oil on them and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake them on both sides, 10 mins each side. When done, set aside.
3.While the eggplant is baking, mix up the seasoning blend of oregano, basil, parsley, garlic powder, salt, chili flakes, and sage. Add to a skillet with the ground turkey and mix well. Cook until browned. Set aside.
4. In the same pan, add in the marinara sauce and mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms begin to get tender. Add in the eggs and stir well. Take off the heat.
5. Layer the bottom of a Rockcrok with eggplant, then a layer of meat and then sauce. Repeat until it's all fished, ending with a layer of sauce.
6. Cook, covered, in the microwave 10 minutes.

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