To hide lots of vegetables in your ground beef sauce is like the oldest trick in the book. It is, however, still a brilliant way to add more vegetables to a meal without anyone really noticing it.
Almost every week in my house, we eat a dish that call meat sauce loaded with veggies. And it is just that. A classic ground beef sauce (like a bolognese) with lots of whatever veggies I have available. Sometimes I top it with grated cheese and gratinate it in the oven but here I took it one step further and made a lasagne using eggplant instead of lasagna sheets.
Eggplant (or aubergine) isn’t the most popular of vegetables (actually, did you know that eggplant is botanically a berry? Well, now you know!). It has a bitterness to it and a strange mushy texture. It’s rarely my first choice. When cooked right it changes both taste and texture. I enjoy it grilled during the summer with sauces like pesto or olive tapenade dripped on top. And it also works really well in a lasagna replacing the lasagna sheets. In a lasagna, the eggplant absorbs the taste from the minced beef sauce and adds a nice texture to the dish that even my kids enjoy.
SERVES 4 PERSONS (+ meat sauce for an additional 2 lunches)
- 2 eggplants
- 800g of ground beef*
- 2,5 cup (680 ml) of pureed tomatoes
- 1 zucchini
- 2 carrots
- 1 onion
- spices: oregano, thyme, basil
- salt and freshly grounded pepper
- 150g of cheese, grated
- butter or coconut oil for frying
- olive oil
*I usually make a big batch of the meat sauce and just put one or two servings aside before doing the lasagna. That serves me good for breakfast or lunch the following days.
2. Pat them dry with a towel and dust off the salt. Brush with olive oil and fry them in a skillet or bake them in the oven until they become brown and soft.
3. Grate zucchini and carrots roughly and chop the onion.
4. Heat up butter or coconut oil in a skillet and fry the onions first. Brown the ground beef in the same skillet with the onion. Once the beef is medium cooked, add all your grated vegetables and mix well together. Add the pureed tomatoes and the spices and allow your sauce to simmer for 20-30 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C fan.
6. Now layer your lasagna in a greased oven dish. Start with a bit of meat sauce, then eggplant, the meatsauce and build up the layers. Finish with a layer of meat sauce and add the grated cheese on top.
7. Bake in the oven for about 20-30 minuts or until the cheese has become golden brown. Serve with a nice green salad.
When you use zucchini in your lasagna, it can become somewhat wet. Another good choice of vegetables in the sauce includes Jerusalem artichokes, parsley roots, celeriac etc.
MISSING THE CHEESY SAUCE?
I sometimes make a cheesy sauce for the middle layer but unfortunately Silas doesn’t like it too much. But I’ll give you the tip anyway: mix 200g of ricotta cheese with 2 eggs and about 100g of parmesan and make it its own separate layer in the middle of the lasagna. Delicious!