Going grain-free is wonderful in many ways -- I feel so energetic, I've lost weight, my stomachaches are gone -- but there are times that I do miss the foods I used to eat. I reminisce about how nice it was to throw a pan of lasagna together to have in the freezer for emergencies. Did you know that there's an unwritten rule of friendship that states that lasagna is the only appropriate food to bring to someone who is ill or has had a family emergency? A few years back, when I broke my arm in 3 places, I received NINE lasagnas from my friends and neighbors. Which I appreciated very much, and ate heartily with my good arm, but you wouldn't believe the ridiculous acne that appeared shortly thereafter. Ridiculous.
So today I'd like to share with you a solution to all that starch and cheese -- Zucchini Lasagna with Cauliflower Ricotta. This is an unusual recipe, and it does require some time to make, but it REALLY tastes good, and will make you forget all about that old-fashioned, mushy lasagna. You just replace the noodles with zucchini sliced the long way, mix up some highly-flavored ground beef, and replace the cheese with this very interesting cauliflower preparation. Add some black olives for fun, and you have an amazing dish that will fulfill your neighborly obligations and allow you to remain Paleo at the same time. Other alternatives to the cauliflower "cheese" are Daiya rice cheese or homemade cashew "cheese," but the rice is too starchy for my diet plan, and two of my children are allergic to cashews, so we experimented with this "ricotta" and, honestly, I was really surprised at how good this cauliflower stuff tasted. I would probably double the amount next time just because I was left wanting more :)
This dish takes a good while to make, because it has so many components that need to be prepared from scratch, but it does make a huge dish, so you'll have leftovers and won't have to cook tomorrow!
Start by roasting 1 medium cauliflower (or 2 small). Chop the heads into bite-sized pieces, toss with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and a bit of salt, and bake 20 - 30 minutes at 350 degrees, flipping once. In a food processor, mash the cooked cauliflower with 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 cup of coconut cream, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, and a few grinds of black pepper. Set aside.
Meanwhile, for the beef filling, brown 3 pounds of grass-fed ground beef or bison in a your largest frying pan over medium heat, along with a diced Vidalia onion, 2 Tablespoons of minced garlic, and 2 Tablespoons each of basil and oregano. When the meat is browned, add 1 (24 oz) jar of tomato sauce, or 3 cups of your own sauce. (I used Williams Sonoma Sweet Pepper and Olive sauce, and loved the salty addition of the capers in it.) Set aside.
Slice 4 zucchini the long way, and set aside. You can also use yellow squash, or a combination of both. Now it is time to layer your lasagna. Starting with the zucchini, in your largest baking dish (mine was 15" x 10"), lay down layers of squash, beef, cauliflower, and chopped cured olives.
Top with a bit of rice cheese just so it looks lasagna-y, or even a bit of Parmesan if you can handle a little dairy. Or just skip that and serve this when everyone is starving and they won't have the energy to tell you the dinner you just slaved over doesn't look like lasagna.
Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees, covered with foil. Enjoy!
Zucchini Lasagna with Cauliflower Ricotta (GF, DF)
1 medium head of cauliflower
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup coconut cream
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 lbs ground beef
1 Vidalia onion, diced
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp oregano
2 Tbsp basil
1 24 oz jar spaghetti sauce (3 cups)
4 medium zucchini
1 cup cured black olives, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Begin by chopping the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces, and tossing on a baking sheet with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bake 20 - 30 minutes at 350 degrees, flipping once. Puree the baked cauliflower in a food processor with coconut cream, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and a few grinds of black pepper. Set aside.
In a large frying pan over medium heat, brown the ground beef, onion, garlic, oregano and basil. Add spaghetti sauce when the meat has browned. Stir well and set aside.
Slice zucchini the long way. Layer squash, beef, and cauliflower into a large baking dish. Sprinkle olives over all, then repeat until all ingredients have been included. Top with rice cheese or Parmesan, if allowed.
Bake, covered, 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Shared with Gluten Free Recipe Round Up, Make Your Own Monday, Fat Tuesday, Gluten Free Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Hearth and Soul Hop, Traditional Tuesday, Tuesday's Table, Waste Not Want Not, Allergy Free Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Party Wave Wednesday, Pennywise Platter, Gluten Free Friday, Healing Food Friday, and Mostly Homemade Monday.