With Eggplant Noodles and Cashew Cream
I know, I know. How in the world can lasagna taste amazing when you take away the noodles and the cheese? But, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with how delicious this Whole30 lasagna tastes. This from the guy who last week said he didn't like eggplant. But... I also said "unless it's covered it in sauce" - which, by the way, is the real reason why this recipe works so well!
This is the perfect kind of dish when serving a crowd. All the ingredients in this recipe are Whole30 compliant. But because it's a baked good, it is technically against the rules. But it's the perfect way to end a round or for a special celebration! It really is healthy comfort food. And a bonus... it's also gluten-free and dairy-free. But it's so good - trust me, no one will care!
What the Heck is Cashew Cream?
It sounds weird. And I was a skeptic. But this stuff really worked! I had heard of cashew cream in the past, but really had no desire to try it. The only reason I chose to this time is because of my desire to come as close to traditional lasagna as possible. And it totally looks, and tastes, like a cheese layer! Just make sure you soak your raw cashews the night before. Super simple to make.
Be Patient. Let it rest.
Now to everybody's least favorite part of the process. Once your lasagna is all done cooking, take it out of the oven, and walk away! The longer you let it rest, the more likely it will hold together when slicing. I would say a minimum of 30 minutes, but a solid hour of rest time is best. Please don't throw tomatoes.
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And this is the AMAZING Result…
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Whole30 Lasagna with Eggplant Noodles and Cashew Cream
- 2 cups raw cashews soaked overnight in 4 cups water
- 2 lbs. lean ground beef
- ½ cup yellow onion diced
- 1 Tbsp. sea salt divided
- ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- ½ tsp. fennel seeds
- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 8 oz. baby bella mushrooms finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. garlic minced
- 6 oz. tomato paste
- 28 oz. canned crushed tomatoes
- 15 oz. tomato sauce
- ½ cup water
- 1 large globe eggplant cut lengthwise into ¼-inch slices
- 18 oz. frozen spinach
- ¼ tsp. fresh nutmeg
- Soak 2 cups of raw cashews in 4 cups of water overnight.
- In a Dutch oven, add ground beef, onions, 1 teaspoon of salt, and black pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until beef is browned. Season with basil, fennel seeds, and Italian seasoning, and give a good mix. Then add mushrooms, garlic, and remaining 2 teaspoons of salt and cook until juices from mushrooms have evaporated. Add tomato paste, mix well to fully incorporate, and cook for 2-3 minutes. This will help get rid of the can taste. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and water. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile – Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a mandolin, slice eggplants into ¼-inch thick “noodles.” Spray two baking sheets with nonstick spray and place eggplant pieces in single layer. Season both sides of eggplant slices with sea salt. Bake for 10 minutes (until tender and beginning to brown) turning halfway through. Remove from oven and allow eggplant to cool. Can be roasted 1 day ahead and refrigerated.
- Make cashew cream – Drain the soaking water. Transfer soft cashews into a blender with 2 cups of new, warm water and puree in a blender until smooth. Set aside.
- Defrost frozen spinach. Drain and squeeze out all liquid (don’t be fooled, there’s a lot). Place in large bowl and break apart thoroughly. Season with a bit of nutmeg and mix well.
- Assemble in a 9 x 13 glass dish. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees. Add a layer of meat sauce (about 2 cups). Then a layer of eggplant noodles. Then gently and evenly spread a layer of cashew cream. Take half of the spinach and break up into an even layer atop the cashew cream. Repeat all steps. Then finish the top with a layer of sauce, and then a layer of cashew cream.
- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Then switch oven to low broil setting and continue cooking for about 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let rest for at least 30 minutes. Cut with a sharp knife and scoop out with a spatula.