AS FEATURED: In The Wholesome Cook book (Harlequin, October 2015), now even more paleo with a Cauliflower ‘Bechamel’ Sauce and with the option of being cheese-free, as well as vegetarian or vegan. The 170+ recipes are all about eating the best food for your body.
Food cravings. I have them all the time. If my body is lacking a nutrient I will almost immediately crave certain foods: pickles, yoghurt, tomatoes, hot oats, blueberries, bananas, hazelnut gelato… you name it, I’ll crave it.
Recently, however, I have been experiencing an unusual opposite, the anti-craving. I’ve been madly avoiding pasta and happily going without. I’m just hoping this is not a way of my body telling me I’m allergic to gluten because I love my bread and I’m certain that will never change.
So, to satisfy my new anti-craving, I made a gorgeous spicy arrabiata sauce the other night, packed with vegetables, shaved zucchini ribbons and no pasta… It was great and light and exactly what I needed. Maybe it’s a springtime thing? Who knows!
Anyway, when it came to making this pasta-less lasagna, I was only happy to give it a go – extra serves of veggies never hurt anyone. And it was a great and tasty way to get the kids to eat those less popular vegetables too. Leftovers are great for lunch or frozen for another night.
Pasta-less vegetable and beef lasagna
You will have to season the meat well, almost overseason actually, and make sure the sauce is cooked down as the vegetables will release juices into the dish while cooking. Spicy sauces, such as arrabiata work very well with this dish as the spicyness mellows out quite a lot in the mixture.
For the mince sauce:
- 500g beef mince
- 1 (220g) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (220g) can corn kernels
- 1 (400g) jar arrabbiata sauce, I used Barilla as it is additive-free
- 1 brown onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 3 tbsp Italian herb and spice mix
- 1 tsp black pepper
For the vegetable layers:
- 4 medium zucchini (courgettes)
- 1 large eggplant (aubergine)
- 3 large carrots
- 2 large tomatoes
- 1 medium capsicum
- olive oil
- extra Italian herb and spice mix
- 1 cup of grated cheese (mozzarella or cheddar) // or ricotta
Preheat oven to 200C (180C fan-forced, 400F, gas mark 6).
To prepare the mince sauce: brown the mince and onion in a large pot, breaking up the meat into small granules. Add the spices, garlic, pepper, undrained corn kernels, canned tomatoes and arrabbiata sauce. Stir all to combine and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook slowly stirring often for 20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. In the meantime, prepare vegetables.
To prepare the vegetable layers: wash all vegetables thoroughly. Dice capsicum and slice tomatoes. Using a mandolin or a potato peeler, peel zucchini and carrot into long ribbons. Slice eggplant into 3mm thin slices.
Drizzle a large oven-proof baking dish with some olive oil. Arrange a layer of eggplant, followed by zucchini and carrot strips. Spread half the mince sauce over the top. Top with tomatoes and repeat the vegetable layers and mince layer again, using up all the vegetables this time.
Sprinkle with some grated cheddar, mozzarella or crumbled ricotta. Sprinkle with extra Italian herb and spice mix then bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes. Place under a hot grill for a further 3 minutes if using cheddar or other melting cheese if it hasn’t browned in the oven.
To serve: serve slices of lasagna with your favourite salad greens. Freeze leftover single-serve portions if need be and use within 2 months.