This is a beautiful – yet very easy to make – warming dish perfect for the time of year when the cooler weather sets in. If you like lasagne, move over to this healthier, grain-gluten-and-dairy free version! My favourite part of this whole bake is making the almond “parmesan” to go on top. It’s one of the first dishes I used this dairy-free option on, and I absolutely love it.
Paleo Eggplant Bake
- 1 large eggplant - approximately 500 grams
- 1 brown onion
- 1 stick celery *
- 2 cloves garlic (fresh)
- 400 grams tinned tomatoes i.e. one regular can of tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 500 grams beef mince
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or dried chilli flakes - OPTIONAL
- salt & pepper to season
- 3 handfuls baby spinach or other leafy greens e.g. kale (about 60 grams)
- 1/4 cup red wine - OPTIONAL
- extra virgin olive oil for frying and dressing
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
- 1/2 cup almonds (raw)
- Take your eggplant and slice it thinly, aiming to get slices about half a centimetre thick. Lay on a flat surface, sprinkle with salt, and allow to sit while you prep the rest of the dish (this draws excess moisture out of the eggplant which will stop it making the rest of the dish super soggy, as well as seasoning the eggplant). Before you use the eggplant pat off the moisture that has accumulated on the top with a paper towel.
- Preheat your oven to 180˚C.
- Dice your onion and celery, and finely chop your garlic
- Heat a large pan and add a teaspoon of olive oil (or your preferred frying fat). Add onion, celery and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until onion starts turning translucent.
- Add the mince to the pan and cook until just browned, breaking up any lumps in the mince as you go. When the mince is almost done, add the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste and spices, and season as desired with salt & pepper. If you're using the wine add this in too, and cook for 2-3 minutes so the liquid reduces down a bit. Give it all a good stir until it's well combined, and then turn off the heat.
- If you need to prep your greens, do so now, e.g. if using kale leaves, remove the tough inner stems and roughly chop into pieces (if using baby spinach you probably just need to give it a bit of a rinse).
- Take a baking dish and layer as follows: layer of meat mixture, layer of greens, layer of eggplant. For my baking dish, which was wide and shallow (approximately 20 x 30 cm), I did two layers. However, you could do more depending on what size your baking dish is. Finish with an eggplant layer.
- Top the dish with some almond "parmesan", which you make as follows: place almonds and nutritional yeast in your food processor (or blender) and pulse until you get a nice fine crumb. (You can store this in a jar in the fridge if you don't use all of it; it will last a few weeks.)
- Drizzle a little olive oil over the whole thing and then bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Serve topped with extra almond parmesan, fresh parsley and a side of steamed veggies.