How To Make Lasagne If You're Dodging Carbs
The Debrief: five different ways to make sure your wheat-free lasagne is banging
Garfield knew it, the Italians have known it for centuries, and even Prince William can get on board: lasagne is The Food of The Gods. Rich layers of ragu all Bolognese, cheesy Béchamel sauce and sheets of egg pasta combine to create a dish so much greater than the sum of its parts. So, now with pasta being the devil’s work and all*, how can we stay true to our #lowcarb convictions? We cooked up a smorgasbord of pasta-free lasagnes to find out…
1. Courgette slices
The star of the spiraliser seemed like an obvious place to start, with many a fellow carb dodger suggesting this swap when we did a quick shout-out on Twitter. In practice, it’s actually quite hard to cut the courgette in the characteristic thin slices. We used a cheffy mandolin, which helped, but still. We layered up the courgette ‘pasta’ raw, with a traditional ragu sauce (FYI Antonio Carluccio’s recipe for ragu is the only way) and a slightly more healthy Béchamel using Quark or cottage cheese.
The result: Wet. Liquid seeped from the courgette in the same way it sometimes does when you make courgetti. If you’re using this method, then make sure your ragu is drier than the desert. And don’t even think about using Quark in your Béchamel. Aside from this, very tasty once the excess liquid was drained off.
Italians can’t get enough of this stuff, and we quite like it too. With lasagne sheets coming in at 355 calories per 100g, polenta suddenly seems like a great alternative at just 75 calories/100g and with a quarter of the carb load. Buy a ready-made block and slice it as carefully as you can. This one went into a mushroom, spinach and pine nut creation with a traditional Béchamel.
The result: Delicious, but not hugely lasagne-like. It rather made it into a completely different beast, but perhaps that was due to the unusual filling. All that aside, it was filling, reassuringly carb-like and yet still low cal, low carb. Also great for those avoiding gluten.
This was literally everyone’s suggestion, so we humoured it – and we’re fans of aubergine, we are! Especially when they’re only 39p in Aldi at the mo. BUT having to slice the aubergine into equally sized slices is harder than it sounds and then you only have to go and cook them all first. Show us a pan where you can get 25 slices of aubergine in at the same time, because doing them in batches is a snore. Once they were translucent and coloured, they went in to a standard ragu lasagne to await their moment of reckoning.
The result: A moussaka. Basically, if there was lamb, and cinnamon, and more tomato, and egg in the sauce. We can’t entertain this as a serious lasagne contender even if it is tasty as hell.
4. La Veneziane gluten-free lasagne
Let’s clear something up. Avoiding gluten when you are not *genuinely* intolerant to it is pointless. Most gluten-free equivalent foods are higher in fat and sugar than their actually harmless counterparts, so unless you have coeliac disease you’re really much better off just reducing the amount of starchy carbs in your diet if your aim is to reduce bloating or lose weight. Rant over.
These sheets from Holland & Barrett are only slightly more calorific than normal pasta and are used in exactly the same way. These went into a veggie lasagne of peppers, tomatoes, mushroom and a touch of balsamic.
The result: Tremendous. Impossible to tell the difference from standard pasta – we fed it to fellow Debrief contributor Alex and she literally had no idea.
Score: 5/5 (but no healthier than standard pasta)
5. Cauliflower crepes
Our research showed that those barmy Americans often substitute crepes for lasagne sheets. Crazy stuff. But, it got us to thinking: Pinterest is literally littered with recipes and ideas for ‘protein pancakes’ and the like, so could we make a savoury version? Yes we could. In the same manner as the much feted cauliflower pizza base, we mixed cauliflower, egg and chickpea (or gram) flour into a batter consistency, before briefly frying off with oil like a normal pancake. Again, the prep work for this is annoying but man! you feel healthy. We layered them up with butternut squash, sage and chorizo FTW.
The result: If you like your lasagne soft, this is the one for you. And its health giving properties are epic. You can tell they’re crepes, not pasta, but we didn’t actually mind. Will do this again.
*It’s not. Starchy carbs like pasta still have their place in our lives, just not at every mealtime, more’s the pity. Everything in moderation, guys.
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