Paleo Eggplant Meat-tastic Lasagna

Paleo Eggplant Meat-tastic Lasagna

This is the perfect make ahead dish that's both tasty AND a healthy take on an Italian classic. I'm always on the hunt for recipes that are easy to prep ahead (like this!) when you're having a bunch of friends over for dinner, so I can avoid being stuck in the kitchen all night while I'm entertaining. And this dish seems to get better the longer you leave it in the fridge!

I won't lie and say this dish is 'easy', because it's taken a few times of making it to get the swing of things, but since it makes so much food AND can be made ahead I think it's well worth it. Also, it's an economical way to feed a lot of people. 

Serves: 8-10
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggplants
  • 2x my simple marinara sauce recipe (~6-8 cups of marinara sauce)
  • 2 yellow onions chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic minced 
  • 1 pound of ground grass-fed beef
  • 1-1.5 pounds of pork sausage (uncased and broken up)
  • 2 bags of chopped organic frozen spinach left to thaw
  • 2x my cashew 'ricotta' nut cheese OR 32 oz of whole milk ricotta
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Line three large baking sheets with parchment paper
  3. Peel the eggplants and slice into 1/4 inch long pieces
  4. Place the eggplants in one layer on the baking sheets and drizzle with olive oil and salt
  5. Bake the eggplants for 10 minutes and then take out of the oven, flip over and bake for another 10 minutes on the other side. If your slices are thin, then the time could be less - so be EXTRA careful to make sure your eggplant slices don't burn! You should have a few extra pieces that if some of the pieces burn and need to be thrown out you'll have enough to make the lasagna. So don't sweat!
  6. When the eggplants are done cooking, place them on a plate to the side and turn off the oven
  7. As the eggplant cooks, in a large saute pan over medium heat add two tbsp of olive oil and cook the onions for 5 minutes. And the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes
  8. Add the ground beef and sausage to the pan, breaking up the meat until cooked through (~10-15 minutes)
  9. Drain any excess liquid from the pan
  10. Add the marinara sauce to the meat mixture and mix until combined. Cook for ~5 minutes until hot
  11. In a large 15" x 10" baking dish, spread 2 cups of the marinara meat mixture on the bottom of the dish
  12. Add one layer of the eggplant slices to cover the marinara sauce
  13. Add one bag of the frozen spinach and evenly spread on top of the eggplant layer
  14. Using half of the nut cheese or ricotta, spread a layer on top of the spinach. The cheese will melt so even little spoonfuls tossed on top of the spinach will due - it doesn't have to be perfect!
  15. Add half of the remaining meat mixture on top of the cheese
  16. Repeat these steps to add another layer of eggplant slices, spinach and then nut cheese OR ricotta
  17. Using the remainder of the meat mixture to finish off the top layer of the lasagna
  18. Cover the lasagna and let it cool in the refrigerator for at least one hour (you can even leave overnight if you are prepping ahead!). This will help prevent the lasagna from being too liquidy. Not sure how this trick works -- but it was an accidental game changer!
  19. Turn oven to 350 degrees
  20. Cook lasagna uncovered for 1 hour until bubbling / hot (depending on how long you left in the fridge it might need up to 1.5 hours!)
  21. Enjoy!