Yummy Eggplant Lasagna Recipe – Low Carb and Gluten Free

Lasagna in a Nice Crock Serving Dish
How to make lasagna with slices of eggplant
instead of noodles.

Missing Lasagna? Can't do Dreamfields Pasta? Then you're in for a treat! This rich, meaty, cheesy, Italian casserole subs out the wheat-based noodles for something more tasty and nutritious: eggplant. Whether you use a jarred marinara or a spicy homemade tomato-based sauce, the following Atkins Phase 2 recipe for Eggplant Lasagna will only cost you a little more than 5 net carbs.

  

Turning low carb into a lifestyle won't work very well unless you can find new dishes that are just as tasty, or more so, than the ones you left behind. While moving into Phase 2 of the Atkins plan opens up the variety, chucking the breads, cereals, tortillas, and pasta dishes you used to eat can bring a lot of emotional upheaval. Especially, if you're attached to sandwiches, burritos, tacos, and spaghetti.

The trick to making Atkins work better is to find healthy ways to bring back the foods you miss the most, such as a spicy, sausage-filled cheesy lasagna casserole. 

While the process might be quick and simple if you can tolerate the wheat-protein based low-carb pastas on the market today, switching out those gummy noodles for healthy slices of eggplant can be a tastier option. 

You'll see what I mean, when you take the time to create this awesome low-carb eggplant lasagna.


No, really.

You can make a yummy eggplant lasagna without the noodles by simply substituting ultra-thin slices of partially-baked eggplant and covering them in a traditional, spicy meat sauce and cheese. Perfect for Phase 2 or Atkins 40, once you get the hang of making this unforgettable eggplant dish, family and guests will be asking for this low-carb gluten-free version of lasagna instead of the real thing.

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Can You Use Your Own Recipe for Lasagna Sauce?


When you start out your low-carb cooking experiences by using recipes that you only have to alter slightly, switching to low carb will feel less overwhelming and more like the diet you left behind.

Since pasta tends to be a popular comfort food among those who have a history of overeating carbs, you probably have a standard family recipe for great spaghetti sauce in your recipe collection already. If so, you can certainly use your favorite recipe instead of mine.

Just make sure that you leave out any sugar in the sauce ingredients and go with tomato products that are not too sweet. You might also want to adjust the amount of onions called for in your recipe, since diced yellow onions are 11 net carbs per cup.

If you're on the higher-carb version of the Atkins Diet, Atkins 40, you'll be able to tolerate a higher-carb sauce than those who need to stick to a daily limit of less than 20.

Also note that lasagna sauce is traditionally thicker than your standard spaghetti sauce, which matters more when making an eggplant lasagna than it does for a lasagna recipe with low-carb noodles. Since the eggplant won't soak up the sauce the way noodles do, just simmer your homemade spaghetti sauce a little longer than usual.

When you're using eggplant as noodles, you want a nice chunky sauce.



Using Bottled or Canned Marinara Sauce


If you're used to bottled or canned pasta sauces like Classico, Ragu, or Del Monte, make sure you read the carb count in the nutritional facts and adjust the carb count to fit your recipe, if necessary.

Currently, we use Kirkland brand organic tomato sauce, which has 1 net carb per tablespoon. Like homemade spaghetti sauce recipes, you'll want to cook the sauce with your meat of choice, onions, and other goodies until it thickens up.

Best Meat-Based Sauce for Eggplant Lasagna – Crock Pot Recipe



Pot of Meaty Lasagna Sauce
Making a good lasagna sauce isn't difficult.
Just make it extra spicy and thicker than a regular
marinara sauce.

If you don't have a recipe for a super-good lasagna sauce, it's not difficult to make yourself, and thanks to the crock pot, you don't have to spend hours in the kitchen either. For lasagna, in addition to a thicker sauce, we prefer it a bit more spicy than for spaghetti, so the spices can easily penetrate and flavor the eggplant slices. To do that, I use a hot Italian link of sausage.

Ingredients:
  • 1 link hot Italian sausage (could use ¼ lb of bulk)
  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey
  • ½ cup chopped bell pepper
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 16-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasonings
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Herb and Garlic Seasoning
  • small bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
Slice the sausage link down one side. Unwrap the Italian sausage and toss the casing. In a heated skillet, saute the sausage meat along with the ground beef or turkey. Alternatively, you could use ground turkey sausage instead of plain ground turkey and skip the pork. 

When browned and cooked through, place the meat in the bottom of your crock pot. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. Cover the crock pot, and cook on low for several hours.


I have a casserole crock pot like this one, except mine is red. 

I don't have to add any water because with the clamp-down lid, no steam escapes like it does with other styles. It also cooks food more slowly. If your crock pot is older and leaks steam, add a bit of water to the pot as needed. I normally do this in the morning and just let the sauce cook all day.


If you want to make your sauce over the stove, allow yourself an hour or two for simmering, and add a couple of cups of water to the sauce before you start to cook it. As the lasagna sauce simmers down, the extra water will evaporate and turn it into a thick sauce.

Make sure that you stir frequently, so it doesn't burn. One of the advantages to using a crock pot is that you don't have to watch it as closely as you do when cooking the sauce over the stove.

Total recipe: about 29 net carbs

Preparing the Eggplant



Making the best-tasting eggplant lasagna begins with choosing the right eggplant. If you want to keep the process quick and easy, look for a bright purple eggplant that is long and as straight as possible. 

Long, straight, purple eggplant
Pick out a long, straight
eggplant to make slicing easier.
If you have your own garden, you can also use two shorter eggplants, rather than one long one, but a curly eggplant will be more difficult to work with than the one to the left. If curly is your only option, you can slice it into disks, if need be, rather than lengthwise.

You need to cut the eggplant into very thin lengthwise slices, so they will resemble the noodles that you're not going to use and also give you a less-pronounced eggplant taste. The thicker the slices you cut, the more you'll be able to taste the eggplant in the finished dish. 

While there's nothing wrong with being able to taste the eggplant, the recipe will be more like lasagna, and less like eggplant Parmesan, if the meat sauce and cheese are the center of attraction.
Once sliced, some people like to salt them well and place them in a colander in the sink to weep and drain. This one is a micro-perforated colander, so it's handy for times when you need to drain very small ingredients without them slipping through the holes. I have a very minimized kitchen, so I like to purchase kitchen tools that do double or triple duty.

The first time I made this dish, there was very little moisture that escaped, and dabbing the partially-baked eggplant slices with a paper towel after they came out of the oven seemed to work as well.

Lay the eggplant slices out in one layer on a foil-lined or lightly greased baking sheet and bake the eggplant at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, turning them over after 10 minutes. You want to bake them long enough to be pliable, but not until they are completely cooked through. 

They will continue to bake in the oven after you construct the lasagna. Dab the slices on both sides with a paper towel, until they are nice and dry.

Carb Count: Eggplant packs a lot of fiber, so it comes in at about 1 net carb per ounce of uncooked veggie. An average 1lb eggplant comes to 16 net carbs.


Putting the Low-Carb Eggplant Lasagna Recipe Together



I like to keep things simple, so I used cottage cheese instead of ricotta and egg when constructing the lasagna. We almost always have cottage cheese in the house, so that just makes it easier. 

The following video shows Kent Altena making his version of an eggplant lasagna. It's higher in fat than mine is, and might be more appropriate for those on Atkins 72 or Nutritional Ketosis:




Kent cut his eggplant much thicker than I did and used low-fat cream cheese in his recipe because in 2011, the low-fat version was lower in carbs than the full-fat version. Today, that's no longer true, so you can use either one if you want to give his recipe a try, rather than mine.

Ingredients:
  • 1 recipe lasagna sauce
  • 1 lb sliced and partially-baked eggplant
  • 1 cup full-fat cottage cheese
  • 8 ounces grated mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 9 x 13 bake dish or spray with a light coating of non-stick spray. Add a bit of lasagna sauce to the bottom of the dish, and spread it out to lightly coat the pan. Top with half of the eggplant slices, spreading them out to make a single layer. Carefully ladle half of the lasagna sauce on top of the eggplant slices, and spread evenly. Top with dollops of cottage cheese, and sprinkle with half of the grated mozzarella.

Top with the rest of the eggplant slices, spreading them out to make a single layer again. Carefully ladle the rest of the lasagna sauce over the top of the eggplant, spreading evenly. Top with the rest of the grated mozzarella. Cover the casserole and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the lasagna is cooked through and the eggplant casserole is nice and bubbly.

This makes 12 generous servings, about 5-1/4 net carbs each, which will give some people room to add additional mozzarella cheese or even some Parmesan, if you like.


Comments

  1. Great stuff, thanks! Eggplant is one of my fav foods

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've made this type of recipe by grilling the eggplant slices but they become so limp. This idea looks better and easier as well!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Limp would be difficult to work with. Thanks for sharing that. I'll be sure never to grill the eggplant slices for this.

      Delete

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