{eggplant lasagna roll ups}

[headline_georgia_large_left color=”#FF6600″]My childhood favorite made gluten free and delicious![/headline_georgia_large_left]

As a child, family gatherings always meant Persian Food. Although I love and appreciate the food of my homeland as an adult, when I was a kid I wanted what the other kids were eating.

On rare occasions, we were treated to Italian or American food and I loved it! Some of the best family dinners featured my aunt, Pari’s, “Famous Lasagna” and lasagna has been a big time comfort food for me ever since.

Obviously, traditional lasagna is not the healthiest thing to eat when you’re watching your waistline but I could never give up one of my favorite dishes. I love lasagna so much that I wouldn’t even be satisfied eating it as an occasional “Cheat Meal”. The solution: make a protein and veggie rich lasagna with eggplant instead of pasta!

Replacing the noodles with roasted eggplant and adding veggies to the meat sauces allows me to enjoy my childhood favorite guilt-free!

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[headline_georgia_medium_centered color=”#000000″]Eggplant Lasagna Roll Ups[/headline_georgia_medium_centered]

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[headline_georgia_small_left color=”#FF6600″]For this recipe, you will need:[/headline_georgia_small_left]
  • 1 large eggplant (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • salt
  • olive oil spray

For the meat sauce:

  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb crimini mushrooms (thinly sliced)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  •  1 handfuls fresh basil
  • 1/2 C to 3/4 C shredded mozzarella cheese for the top
For the cheese stuffing:
  • 8oz cottage cheese (you can use low or nonfat if you wish)
  • 1 handful fresh basil (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt & 1 tsp pepper
[headline_georgia_small_left color=”#FF6600″]To make the lasagna, you will:[/headline_georgia_small_left]
1. Pre-heat the oven to 375. Peel and thinly slice the eggplant. Liberally salt the eggplant and place on a paper towel-lined baking sheet, or place in a strainer over a bowl. Let the eggplant sit for 20-30min, the salt will draw out any bitterness from the eggplant and excess water that will prevent the eggplant from roasting properly.
2. While the salt is working on the eggplant, heat a large pot or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil and add the onion. Cook the onion until it’s lightly golden brown over medium heat (about 6-8min). Add the garlic to the onions, cook for 2min. Add the ground beef and cook until the beef is browned (use a potato masher to crumble the meat while it cooks).
 
3. Once the meat is browned, about 10min, add the tomato paste and cook for 2-3min. Season the meat with about 1-2tsp salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms and cook until they have released all their water and turn golden brown, about 6-8min. Add the dried oregano and the can of crushed tomatoes. Add a 1/2 C of water and turn the heat to low. Let the sauce simmer on the stove until most of the water has evaporated and you have a thick sauce, about 30min.
4. Using a paper towel, dry off the excess moisture from the eggplant slices and spray the eggplant with olive oil spray. Place them in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast in the oven until the eggplant is tender (about 20min).
 
5. While the eggplant is roasting, mix together the cottage cheese, the parmesan cheese, fresh basil, egg, and salt and pepper (this will be the filling for your roll ups.
6. When the sauce is thickened, remove from the heat and add 1 handful of fresh, chopped basil.
 
7. Remove the eggplant from the oven, let it cool enough for you to handle it. Scoop about 2 Tbsp of the cheese mixture on top of each eggplant slice and roll the cheese inside the eggplant. Place the roll-ups in a foil lined casserole dish.
 
8. Top the roll ups with your meat sauce. Top the whole things with shredded mozzarella and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 30min or until the cheese is brown and bubbly on top (to get an extra brown crust, turn the oven to broil for the last 2-3 min of cooking). Top the whole thing with chopped fresh basil, crack open some Chianti, and enjoy!

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[headline_georgia_medium_centered color=”#FF6600″]I want to hear from you![/headline_georgia_medium_centered] What’s your favorite comfort food?! Have you found a way to make it healthy?

 

 

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