Casein-Free Eggplant Parmesan meets Gluten-Free Lasagna

The Gluten Free/Casein Free Experiment Round 2, Post #4

Eggplant Lasagna – without the cheese! 
DSCN9072 Lasagna is one of our family’s favorite dishes when we all get together. My mom concocted a family staple when we were kids, which she made with a single layer of lasagna noodles, atop seasoned ground beef and veggies, topped with cottage cheese, a can of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning… then smothered the whole thing in mozzarella cheese. The best part was it was cooked, start to finish, in an electric skillet. It was quick, easy, and a tasty.

With our current GFCF status, this dish has been blacklisted indefinitely, so I set-out to formulate a suitable stand-in… with possibly a little less fat in the process.

After searching the internet, I found some great recipes using GF sheet pasta (check out this awesome chefanista), but upon finding it at our local Smith’s decided I was not about to spend 3 to 6 times more for a box of pasta that was made with one of the most readily available grains on the planet. Seriously why is rice pasta so expensive… please don’t answer that ;), I’m familiar with supply and demand, but REALLY!?  So I decided to go a little crazy and use eggplant. The result was FABULOUS, especially being that eggplant parm is one of my favorite dishes.

The next obstacle was the cheese. Again, I’m not a fan of paying crazy prices for cheese substitutes. We had use salt and pepper tofu on tacos and pizzas, both of which are met with good review, so I figured why not?

The last hitch was the meat. No, there’s nothing wrong with ground beef, but we really don’t eat it much anymore. With the hubby’s tendency towards high cholesterol, we opt for lean turkey instead (just be sure on all packaged/processed meats to check the label for whey and gluten… they are slowly creeping into all sorts of high protein foods).

What resulted was a little bit eggplant parm, a little lasagna and a whole lotta yummy. I made this for my parents when they were in town last weekend. My mom and I had such a great time in the kitchen together, but as I prepared the tofu she urgently whispered, “Don’t tell Dad it has tofu in it, he won’t eat it!” I agreed, but was worried, particularly as he really enjoys my mom’s lasagne. To my surprise he RAVED about dinner and had thirds! I was more than a little tickled. I wasn’t sure this recipe was worth sharing, but after its reception with my parents, and a bit of prompting from my mom, here it is!

Dairy-Free Eggplant Lasagna (which I’m sure has an established culinary moniker, but I’m unaware of any such dish… if you know of one, please let me know what I should be calling it! 🙂

Serves 6 – 8

You’ll need:

DSCN9061

Absent on picture day: Fennel Seed and Crushed Red Pepper.

For the tofu “Cheese Topping”-

  • 1 pack of firm tofu (~12 oz.)
  • Salt to taste (about 1/4 tsp.)
  • Black pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp.)

For the meat (to make this vegan, just ditch the meat and add the fennel seed and crushed pepper to the tofu)

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 tsp. fennel seed
  • Crushed red pepper to taste

Eggplant “noodles”

  • 2 large eggplants (made it with one the first time, it was good, but two was even better 😉
  • 3-4 Tbsp. olive oil (or olive oil blend) or better yet,  olive oil spray
  • Salt to taste (about 1/4 tsp.)
  • Black pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp.)

Marinara

  • 3 cups (store bought or homemade… Prego was actually really good)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Thinly slice eggplant lengthwise:DSCN9065
  3. Layer into a 9″x13″ baking dish and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper (you may choose to sprinkle a bit over every layer, but don’t go crazy the eggplant sucks everything up like a sponge):DSCN9067
  4. Drizzle with olive oil or spray with an olive oil mist (you end up using less, but the distribution is much better):DSCN9068
  5. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes (until soft), continue to step six while baking.DSCN9069
  6. While the eggplant cooks, prepare the tofu “cheese topping”:

    DSCN9063

    Drain 1 container of firm tofu (I LOVE the shelf-stable variety now carried at Costco, pictured). Crumble and add salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper for us). Set aside and let stand while you prepare the rest.

  7. Saute’ the meat with fennel and crushed red pepper, you may choose to add a little salt and/or pepper.

    DSCN9064

    The meat will resemble sausage in flavor. You can substitute sausage if you like, but I tend not to as there is often quite a bit more fat and sodium in prepared sausage.

  8. Remove the eggplant from the oven and top with sauce.

    DSCN9070

    This is amazing with your favorite homemade red sauce (obviously, it’s your favorite! :). But was also quite good with ordinary Prego. I have exhausted my freezer stash of homegrown marinara… oh Summer, where art thou?!

  9. Evenly distribute the tofu and turkey over the top. You may mix them a little to distribute the seasonings a bit (and if you, like I, are trying to pass tofu off as “CHEEEZE”).
  10. Bake for 30 more minutes or until the sauce is bubbly, but the edges are not burning.DSCN9072
  11. Slice with a sharp knife and serve!

This is also excellent over quinoa pasta or rice pasta… or if wheat isn’t a dirty word in your home… plain ole’ spaghetti!

HELPFUL HINT: Make more than enough and freeze the leftovers as single servings in ziplocs. As there is really no such thing as an “instant” or “TV” dinner in the GFCF realm (unless you’re willing to pay royally for it), we do this with all sorts of things so we always have frozen dinners for those evenings when the munchkins need to eat pronto.

ENJOY! And please don’t be shy with your thoughts, suggestions and modifications!

-Mommy Vegas and the Naptime Gnome

3 thoughts on “Casein-Free Eggplant Parmesan meets Gluten-Free Lasagna

  1. My new favorite thing is adding a “cheese crumble” to baked items, and this one is no exception. I’ll try to post a few recipes with this, but if you are struggling with the loss of Parmesan cheese in your life, try this: Mix almond flour (or finely ground almonds) with garlic powder, and a bit of pepper and salt to taste. Sprinkle on the top and place under the broiler until it just starts to toast (about a minute in my oven, but be sure to watch it, it goes FAST).

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