Transformation Tuesday: Paleo Pesto Lasagna

IMG_0758I really don’t like to brag. Seriously, I don’t. But today, I am going to have to.

This weekend was my first attempt at recipe development and cooking for my new Transformation Tuesday blog series, in which I makeover non-Paleo meals into grain-free, dairy-free goodness. My first target was the age-old favorite lasagna. And my first recipe…was FREAKING AMAZING!

I swear, I really don’t enjoy bragging. But I can’t help it in this case. I am just so surprised by how well this lasagna came out. When I imagined a grain-free, dairy-free lasagna, I was worried. I could see a few obvious options: using eggplant in place of noodles, for example. But when it came to creating faux cheesy goodness, I was stuck.

That’s when it hit me: cauliflower! Cauliflower fixes everything, right? Ok, not everything. But in this case, it completely fixed my lack of creaminess problem! By adding some cauliflower puree to my pesto “cream” sauce, I was able to make a sauce that really, truly did seem cheesy.

Combine that with the rave reviews I got from not one, but two, food-loving men, and I have to say this first Transformation Tuesday was a huge success!

Here’s how you can transform lasagna in your own kitchen (makes 6-8 servings):

For the pesto cream sauce

  • 3 cups basil, packed lightly
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2  cans coconut milk
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder (dissolved in 2 tbsp water)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For the lasagna/filling

  • 2 large eggplants, sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick pieces
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 13-oz box crushed tomatoes
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp Herbs de Provence

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your eggplant, slicing each vegetable lengthwise into long strips about 1/4-inch thick. Place the eggplant on a rack (like one used for cooling cookies) over waxed paper and liberally salt both sides of each slice. This will help draw out moisture from the eggplant and keep your lasagna from getting mushy. Leave aside until you’re ready to layer the lasagna.

2. Next, start by making the pesto sauce. Place the basil, pine nuts and salt and pepper to taste into a food processor. Add in the oil a small amount at a time, blending the mixture until it combines fully and is smooth. BAM- you’ve got pesto sauce!

3. In a sauce pan over medium-high, add the coconut milk, chopped cauliflower, garlic powder, onion powder and salt and pepper, to taste.  Bring the coconut milk to a boil then reduce heat to medium and simmer until the cauliflower is soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, puree the cauliflower into the coconut milk until completely smooth.

4. Add the arrowroot powder (dissolved in 1 tbsp water) to the coconut and cauliflower sauce, stirring to combine. The sauce should thicken quickly. Then stir in the pesto sauce, and the sauce is done! Set the sauce aside for now.

5. In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, cook the ground beef, crumbling it, until browned, about 3-5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Next, add in the crushed and diced tomatoes, the tomato paste and the remaining spices. Stir to combine and then let simmer for about 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens.

6. Now it’s time to layer your lasagna! In a 9×13 or similar sized pan, place a very small amount of sauce on the bottom of the pan, to keep the eggplant from sticking, then top with a few slices of eggplant, enough to cover the pan completely without overlapping (remember that you can cut the eggplant slices to make them fit!). Next, add another layer of the meat sauce, topped with a layer of the cream sauce. Continue adding layers (eggplant, meat sauce, cream sauce). I recommend making the top two layers eggplant and cream sauce. This will help the lasagna stay together and give a nice cheesy appearance to the top of the dish.

7. Bake the lasagna in the oven for about 40-45 minutes or until bubbly on all sides.

8. EAT IT ALL! (Ok, in reality this could feet 8 people..maybe more. But it’s so good it may only feed 4.)

Lasagna3

Lasagna2

I really hope that you enjoy this dish! We really loved it and have been eating left overs for lunch ever since Saturday.

Have an idea for something I can transform next week? Let me know and you could see your favorite dish here on the blog!

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