Cauliflower Lasagne

It’s fairly obvious that I really love Italian comfort foods. Paleo has challenged me to swap the gluten and gooey cheesiness for fresh veggies and lots of spices. This stuff tastes just as good as the traditional recipes, but as one of my best friends says, eating this way makes you want to lick your plate and go back for seconds as opposed to feeling bloated and hating yourself after the meal.

Because Paleo is a grain-free experience, many of us Paleo bloggers try to concoct palatable alternatives for you. Zucchini noodles, gnocchi, tapioca and almond flour crusts… Surprisingly, you can enjoy your grain-based Italian favorites with a few smart tweaks and substitutions to eliminate the stuff that tear up your gut.

This week I played with using cauliflower as a lasagne noodle. It worked! This cauliflower lasagne is completely grain-free and dairy-free. I layered it with spinach and a simple bolognese of mirepoix, tomatoes, chicken stock and Italian sausage. I like to offer recipes that are as flexible as possible so you can make them your own… Kale, mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus? Toss in whatever veggies sound good to you and your family!

  Paleo Cauliflower Lasagne on www.PopularPaleo.com | Gluten and dairy free, loaded with vegetables -- great recipe!

Ingredients:

Lasagne Noodles:
1 head of cauliflower (yields 6 cups chopped, raw)
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 eggs

Bolognese:
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped (1 cup)
1 small onion, diced (1.5 cups)
1 rib celery, diced (1/2 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp cinnamon (and barely 1/8 tsp… it’s a dusting of cinnamon!)
pinch of red chili flakes (less than 10 flakes)
12 oz ground Italian sausage (the good stuff!)
1 – 14.5oz can organic diced tomatoes
1 – 15oz can organic tomato sauce
1 cup organic chicken stock
Extra virgin olive oil

Optional: Fresh basil and a couple handfuls of baby spinach

Prep:
Start by making the cauliflower noodles. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (Fahrenheit). Remove the leaves and core from a head of cauliflower and start chopping the cauli into small pieces. I use my knife, but you can certainly do this in a food processor. My cauliflower yielded 6 cups, shoot for that on your end so that the egg ratio is close.

The cauliflower pieces need to be steamed; use whatever contraption you prefer.  Stove-top or microwave makes no difference to me… I covered and microwaved for several minutes (about 6) until it was cooked but not total mush.

When hot, use a potato masher or pastry cutter to break down the cauliflower. Cauliflower releases a fair amount of liquid while it cooks, so try to drain off what you can. Then add the seasonings and combine. Add the eggs last and either continue using the masher to combine or grab a spatula… whatever works for you.

I am addicted to my silicone baking sheet and definitely recommend it, although basic parchment paper works as well, I’m told.  There is no added fat (other than egg) to the cauliflower, so the sticking potential is high. Be sure to use one of the two. Spread the cauliflower dough/batter onto a large silicone baking sheet. You have to eyeball whatever baking dish you plan to use for the lasagna and think how large to spread out the cauliflower so that when you cut it in two large sections, the layers will fit squarely in the baking dish.  Obviously you won’t be preparing a 10×13-sized casserole dish with only 6 cups of cauliflower, so make necessary adjustments. The dish I used is your basic oval 2.8 liter corning ware baker, about 8″ x 11″ x 3″. The picture below shows a standard-sized cookie sheet (American 17″ x 12″) and the cauli was about a half inch thick.

Bake the cauliflower for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. It needs to be a little overcooked and dried out since it will be soon layered with tomato saucy goodness.

While the cauliflower is in the oven, we need to make the bolognese.

Classic bolognese starts with mirepoix (carrot, onion and celery) and that’s what we’re going to do here. Heat a large or wide pan to medium or medium-high. This can be a dutch oven or even a large skillet. Drizzle in a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil… enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pan.

While that comes to temp, peel and chop the carrots, dice the onion and the celery.  Add those to the hot pan and sprinkle with the kosher salt and other seasonings. It will look kinda strange if you’re not in the habit of building sauces in this order, but roll with it. This method gets the oils going and rehydrates the dried herbs before the tomatoes hit. Sauté for about 4-5 minutes, then add minced garlic and the sausage. Cook until the sausage has browned. The canned diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and chicken stock now joins the party. Stir and simmer for 15 minutes or so on medium-low heat. Cover if your sauce starts to dry out (or if it’s splattering everywhere and making a mess of your stove).

When the cauliflower “noodle” has finished cooking, remove from oven and transfer to a large cutting board or work surface. Depending on the size and shape of your lasagne pan and thus the size and shape of your cauli noodle, divide into two sections that will perfectly layer your lasagne.  Remove the bolognese from the heat and grab your baking dish.

To build the lasagne I layered like this:
1) about a cup of sauce
2) cauliflower “noodle”
3) half the remaining sauce
4) a couple handfuls of baby spinach
5) the second cauliflower “noodle”
6) the remaining sauce

Cover and bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes. Just enough to bring everything together and for the sauce to get bubbly around the edges.

Serve with fresh basil for a dairy-free, grain-free DELICIOUS lasagne!

 Paleo Cauliflower Lasagne on www.PopularPaleo.com | Gluten and dairy free; loaded with veggies!

* * * * *

There are a couple things that make preparing this Cauliflower Lasagne easier: a food processor, a silicone baking sheet and a mesh bag for draining the cauliflower thoroughly.


PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

Comments

  1. Magali says

    How many people can you feed this lasagna please? Also, has anyone made it vegetarian? Any suggestions please?

    • says

      I used a 2.8 liter baking dish, which could probably feed 6 to 8 people. But that’s just a guess. Anyone else recall how many it served? Also a friend of mine make this recipe without the sausage while on a detox cleanse and enjoyed it sans meat. Hope that helps!

    • says

      There is, but I haven’t been able to integrate the feature yet. I’m so sorry! When I’m done writing my book next month, I’ll be taking time to make site improvements such as an easy print option. Thanks for bearing with me!

      • Melanie says

        I am SO interested in trying out this recipe, but I can’t read all of the ingredient list, because the CityLips ad overlaps the recipe. ;) How many eggs, etc… ? Thank you!

        • says

          Well that is no good! Here’s the full ingredient list :-)

          Lasagne Noodles:
          1 head of cauliflower (yields 6 cups chopped, raw)
          2-3 cloves garlic
          1/2 tsp kosher salt
          1 tsp Italian seasoning
          2 eggs

          Bolognese:
          2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped (1 cup)
          1 small onion, diced (1.5 cups)
          1 rib celery, diced (1/2 cup)
          3 cloves garlic, minced
          1 tsp kosher salt
          1 tsp dried basil
          1 tsp dried oregano
          1/8 tsp cinnamon (and barely 1/8 tsp… it’s a dusting of cinnamon!)
          pinch of red chili flakes (less than 10 flakes)
          12 oz ground Italian sausage (the good stuff!)
          1 – 14.5oz can organic diced tomatoes
          1 – 15oz can organic tomato sauce
          1 cup organic chicken stock
          Extra virgin olive oil

          Optional: Fresh basil and a couple handfuls of baby spinach

  2. says

    I recently started doing the grain free (not paleo, one step at a time) lifestyle and I feel like a million bucks but I miss my pasta… I’m always looking for ways to fake it and this is by far one of the most creative! I’m making this for dinner (with cheese I admit) but I can’t wait to eat, it looks amazing! Thanks, I love your website!!

  3. Dani says

    I am making this right now! Last week I made cauliflower pizza crust, and my “no veg” boyfriend ate all but two pieces! He was shocked when I told him it was a vegetable!

    • popularpaleo says

      I love that “gotcha!” moment! I admit that I was very skeptical that cauliflower could taste so… un-cauliflower like? I hope the lasagne goes over as well as the pizza! :-)

      • Dani says

        I didn’t get enough liquid out, so it was almost like a shepherds pie. It was still very flavorful,and delicious! I’ll have to try it again!

        • popularpaleo says

          Darn! Yeah, cauliflower is a tricky ingredient for uses like these. Definitely gotta get as much moisture out of there as possible to get it to stick together like flour would.

  4. Flowergirl says

    This is a great recipe even if you are adhering strictly to the Paleo plan. I made Basil cashew ‘cheese’ from Ohsheglows.com to spread on the layers also. Very tasty.

  5. says

    Thank you so much! I used a whole eggplant in it, too, and it was great. I also sprinkled some grated feta cheese over it. Even though that’s not quite Paleo, it felt like Lasagne needs cheese. Great recipe.

    • popularpaleo says

      Sorry for the delay, Maya. Sure! It can be completely meat-free as well. The other components of the recipe are well-seasoned; I don’t think that you will need to make any adjustments.

    • popularpaleo says

      I’ve never tried to freeze it. We usually have any leftovers for lunch the next day. I’d be concerned about the cauliflower getting too watery when it was reheated.

  6. says

    We are fighting brain cancer in our house. Our 22 year old daughter was diagnosed in May, 2013. She has chosen not to pursue conventional chemo and radiation treatments. Instead she is opting for a ketogenic diet. Research is showing that it can halt tumor growth and even starve the tumor. I know many people think she is making the wrong decision. But if an oncologist at UC Irvine says it makes sense, then it makes sense. This recipe is really going to help us. I can’t thank you enough.

  7. Lauren says

    This is way too good to be healthy! I made this for a girl’s dinner, and everyone loved it. I think I will add a lot less cinnamon next time though…my dusting must have been too much!

    • popularpaleo says

      Haha! Yes, it’s easy to go overboard on the cinnamon in savory dishes — but I promise you it does good good things to red sauces when in balance!

  8. Grace says

    Hi! I NEVER comment on anything ever, but I made this the other night, following the “noodle” recipe (made my own meat sauce bc I’m a stubborn Italian), and I have to tell you it was soooo good! I also layered in some leftover sauteed peppers and onions bc I had them hanging out in the fridge, awesome!

    • says

      Hello! Thank you, Grace!!!! I totally respect the sauce thing… I do the same :-) Aren’t all Italians stubborn!? haha! Adding peppers and onions is such a good idea! Yum. Glad you liked it!

  9. Lorna says

    I made your Cauliflower Lasagne – I loved it,, even my husband enjoyed it,, and it was great the next day,, I will definitely make it again, thank you for all your hard work :)

  10. says

    I can not get enough of this! I made the lasagna last week and we devoured it. I had a little extra sauce and some cauliflower left over as well so I steamed the cauliflower and added it to the sauce. Bam! Just had Cauliflower Spaghetti for lunch! I was wondering if you would mind me posting about this on my blog with your picture? Of course a link would be provided and I would NOT post the actual recipe. Just wanted to share this deliciousness with my readers! Thanks!!!

  11. says

    Just made this and I’m completely bowled over! I used fresh basil leaves instead of spinach, because I had them in the garden and it was fabulous. This is a permanent addition to my recipe box! Thanks!

    • says

      When I first made this I didn’t have much confidence that the idea would work. In fact, I didn’t even bother with taking good pictures. Boy was I wrong! This really comes together well! It’s been one of my favorite recipes. I bet basil was a great addition… yum! Thanks for writing to me!

  12. Laurie says

    This recipe looks amazing, I can’t wait to try it. I’m on my 3rd week of Paleo and so far I love the changes in my body. Thanks so much, oh and your lemon bars look great too!!

  13. Leah sauber says

    I’ve just read your blog for the first time.I enjoy your chatty tone.This
    cauliflower lasagna sounds terrific and I plan on trying it. I’ve made cauliflower pizza.The crust is cauliflower which is steamed or cooked ,very much like you make for the lasagna noodles.Just leave the cauliflower is the pan after it’ s baked ,pour tomato sauce over it either from the can or using your own which of course can’t compare to the store bought variety) a bit of sugar-7admittedly I use Splenda.Then sprinkle with shredded lite mozzarella or pizza cheese.Bake until the cheese bubbles.Since I keep kosher I use or make a meat free sauce.

    • says

      Hey Leah! Thanks for reading my blog :-) Cauliflower pizza crust was what gave me the idea for this lasagne… good stuff, right? In fact, I think I might head down to the kitchen right now and make it for dinner. I have some cauli that needs using. Thanks for the inspiration!

  14. says

    Hello :)
    This sounds very delicious. I don’t want to assume anything – would you happen to know if this would be good as a diabetes 2 dinner? My mother has it and I am trying to learn about cooking diabetic dishes for her. Thank you so very much :) Denise

    • says

      Hi Denise – I’m no doctor, nutritionist, or anyone with a clinical background who could offer you an educated medical answer regarding diabetes. But I can tell you that this is completely grain-free and dairy-free and is loaded with vegetables. For me, that’s always a winner in the overall health category :-)

  15. Danica says

    I just made this and cannot sing your praises enough! I don’t know how you came up with that cauliflower noodle, but woman you are genius! It’s so so so delish and satisfying. I added red peppers and zucchini to the sauce and subbed ground turkey for the sausage because I had it on hand. This will definitely go on my regular dinner rotation.

  16. Alex says

    I just finished eating this for dinner tonight and it was absolutely delicious! I substituted some of the ingredients only because I didn’t have them on hand. I used ground turkey instead of ground sausage, half of a big sweet onion, and I didn’t have any celery so I skipped that. They were subtle changes but still sooooo delicious! Thank you for the recipe. :)

    • says

      Okay – Final review time: It was amazingly delicious! Oh MY! I didn’t even miss the cheese! Seriously! It was amazing! Thank you for such a great recipe. Next time, I plan on doubling it and freezing one. So so so so yummy!

      • says

        This makes my day!!! Thank you for following up — I love to hear how things work (or don’t work) for all of you who decide to give these recipes a whirl! Appreciate hearing from you — and soooo glad you guys enjoyed the lasagne!

    • says

      I was just coming to post that we used parchment paper :) It works great. I’ve also used your recipe (increased by 2 eggs and 1 T of italian seasoning) for our pizza crust. Works perfect! It also sits great in the fridge for use the next day for baking. Thanks!

    • says

      Even with all those bold flavors layered around it, the cauli taste is still there… in a good way ;-) If you try it out, let me know if you give it a thumbs up or thumbs down!

  17. says

    I may, or may not, have just tried to lick my computer screen. This looks absolutely scrumptious. Definitely going to try making it this weekend! Thanks!!

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