Roasted Eggplant Lasagna

eggplantBake

I love Italian food and I’m a sucker for anything eggplant. The other day, my Swiss cousin said she making millefiore. I asked, “What’s that?” She explained it to me and my mouth just watered. We happened to be texting at midnight (which was about the time she was waking up) so I went to bed hungry. The next day, I ran to the grocery store and bought my ingredients for this tasty dish. I wish I could have eaten this for breakfast, but I waited till dinner before serving. And leftovers are perfect for lunch the next day!

She doesn’t put the ricotta-spinach layer so I couldn’t really call this millefiore. Instead, the best thing to call this dish is Roasted Eggplant Lasagna. No pasta, no flours, no sugar. It’s low-carb, gluten-free, wheat-free, vegetarian, and cheesy good! Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

RECIPE

  • 2 large eggplant, sliced thinly (about 1/4″)
  • 1/2 bag of frozen chopped spinach (or use fresh spinach, chop first)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp. chopped garlic
  • salt / pepper
  • 1 lb of ricotta cheese
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 1/2 c of grated parmesan and/or romano cheese
  • 1/2 grated mozzarella cheese
  • 2 c spaghetti sauce (I used half a jar of Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil spaghetti sauce.)
  1. Preheat oven at 350*.
  2. Slice eggplant. and lay on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Salt eggplant and roast in oven till they turn brown. (About 15-20 min.) Set aside.
  3. While you are roasting your eggplant, you can sauté spinach with olive oil, garlic, chopped basil, salt and pepper. Let it cool. Then mix the spinach in with ricotta cheese, parmesan/ricota cheese and egg(s).
  4. Grease the bottom of an 8×8 square.
  5. Layer like a lasagna (eggplant, sauce, mozzarella, eggplant, ricotta, mozzarella, etc.
  6. Top with more tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. Bake covered in foil for about 25 minutes. Remove the foil, and cook for another 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
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Italian Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

ItalianStuffedSpagSquashThis hits the spot when you’re craving lasagna! Italian Stuffed Spaghetti Squash uses an alternate for pasta. And the best part is your kitchen smells so delicious –  like you’re baking a tray of your favorite Italian dish. Gluten-free and lower in carbs. So good!

RECIPE

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 1/2 lb ground beef (or chicken, turkey, pork, etc.)
  • 1 tsp. of minced garlic
  •  1 jar of sugar-free spaghetti sauce of your choice (or make your own)
  • 1 tub of ricotta cheese
  • Parmesan or mozzarella cheese
  1. Cook your spaghetti squash per instruction on this link: click here.
  2. While that is cooking, make your meat sauce by first browning the meat and garlic, then adding the spaghetti sauce. Set aside.
  3. When your squash is done, cut it into two halves lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and fill each side half way with ricotta cheese, then top with meat sauce until it’s over-filled.
  4. Top with cheese and place under the broiler for about 5-10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
  5. Scoop out your servings and enjoy with a side of green salad!

Pasta Alternative: Zucchini Noodles

zucchini_noodlesI’ve been seeing this pasta alternative Zucchini Noodles on a couple of other food sites and had to try it. But first, I had to find the tool. It’s called a julienne peeler and I found mine at Bed Bath & Beyond. It looks like this:

mak-200515_2Like spaghetti squash, it doesn’t taste exactly like pasta, but it is a healthy side dish that’s a really good gluten-free, low-carb substitute. And once you season it and eat it with your protein, you’ll forget that it’s not real pasta. Well, maybe you will, but you’ll feel good after eating zucchini and your body will thank you.

How to Cook

  1. Wash your zucchini and shred noodles using your julienne peeler.
  2. Blanch in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Drain.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil or butter, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if you wish.

Pasta Alternative: Spaghetti Squash

This was the first time I’ve eaten Spaghetti Squash. It doesn’t exactly taste like pasta but it is a pretty good substitute (gluten-free and lower carb). The first bite took me by surprise because it’s sweet. I wasn’t expecting that. By the time I was half way done with my meal, I didn’t even notice that I was eating squash instead of spaghetti, especially if you load on the cheese. You can pretend it’s really pasta you’re eating. Best part… you don’t feel full like you’re gonna bust out of your pants! 🙂

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash by Microwave

  1. Poke about 5-6 times with a fork.
  2. Cook on high for about 12 minutes (rotating every 3 minutes) or until the skin gives.
  3. Let cool. Remove seeds. Scrape spaghetti with a fork.

Below is what happened to my spaghetti squash because I failed to check to see if the squash was tender enough to open by hand. BAM! 🙂

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Oven

  1. Pre-heat oven at 375˚ F.
  2. Poke the squash about 5-6 times with a fork and place in baking dish.
  3. Cook for about 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until flesh is tender.
  4. Let cool. Remove seeds. Scrape spaghetti with a fork.

Eggplant Parmesan

Are you missing breadcrumbs to coat your chicken or Eggplant Parmesan? Here’s what I do instead for a guilt-free, gluten-free, low-carb coating:

  • beat egg with about 1/8 cup of water in one pan
  • coarse almond meal and grated Parmesan cheese in another pan (ratio 1:1)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Dip the eggplant (or chicken) in the egg mixture.
  2. Coat the eggplant (or chicken) in the almond/cheese mixture.
  3. Either fry in oil or place on parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet and bake in the over at 350˚F, 15 minutes on each side.
  4. Serve with your favorite sauce and guilt-free pasta of your choice. (*I am eating brown rice spaghetti with my eggplant.)
  5. Top with mozzarella cheese.

Swedish Meatballs

Who doesn’t love Swedish Meatballs? Sometimes I go to IKEA just to have the meatballs. 🙂 Meatballs are pretty much a low-carb food, but you gotta have the bread crumbs to make them bind which is why I rarely eat meatballs. But now, thank you to my dear Swiss cousin (again!), she sent me her secret to make them even more low-carb. I ate these scrumptious little babies with brown rice pasta (another great pasta alternative!) and some grilled zucchini.

MEATBALLS

  • 1 pound of ground meat (beef, turkey, chicken, pork)
  • half an onion, diced
  • about 1/4 cup of parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp oat flour
  • 1 tbsp almond flour
  • a splash milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic (or more, depending on your taste)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil for frying
  1. Mix/Knead all the ingredients in a large bowl with your hands.
  2. Form into 1″ meatballs.
  3. Fry them up in a pan. (Save the dirty pan with all the bits and pieces for the sauce.)

SAUCE

  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tsp of mustard
  • a dash of nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp of almond flour
  1. Whisk together the cream, milk and butter in the dirty pan on low heat.
  2. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and mustard. Keep stirring.
  3. Add almond flour and whisk until it thickens.
  4. Pour over the top of meatballs.

Unfortunately, the best part of this dish is eating it with lingonberry sauce which you can purchase at IKEA or maybe buy online. You can eat a small dollop of it on the side, but that’s where the sugar and carbs are. So eat at your own risk. Otherwise, njuta av din måltid! (Enjoy your meal!)

Tofu Shirataki Noodles

GREAT NEWS! I just found out that these noodles are made with glucomannan which can help you lose weight!!! Read it here: http://www.shiratakinoodles.net/lose-weight.html

Here’s another pasta alternative… Tofu Shirataki Noodles. This one is made out of tofu so it’s not soy-free like Miracle Noodles, but it’s still very low in carbs (3g per serving) and packed with protein. These noodles are more accessible, too. I found a 2-serving package in the refrigerated section at Safeway or Lucky for around $2. Can’t beat that! And you don’t have to pay for shipping. So I buy these noodles any time I need to.

I love Vietnamese Pho but I’d rather skip the noodles. What I like to do is place an order to-go from my favorite pho restaurant and ask for “no noodles” (and sometimes double meat), and while my hubby is out picking up our order, I quickly rinse and blanch my tofu noodles so by the time he gets home all I do is pour them into my soup and I’m ready for dinner!