Cauliflower Lasagna with Pancetta and Mushrooms
This is not your grandma’s lasagna. This is not a weeknight lasagna. This is what you make when you feel like spending a few hours in the kitchen with a delicious, nutrient-dense reward in the end. I actually prefer these low-carb cauliflower pasta sheets to traditional pasta, and not just because they’re gluten-free and grain-free. Cutting out the carbs makes room for all the vegetables and homemade sauce to shine.
For the Cauliflower Pasta Sheets
1 head cauliflower broken up into florets, removed from the core
1 1/2 cups arrowroot powder
1 tsp salt
For the Pancetta Mushrooms
4 oz pancetta
16 oz baby bella mushrooms sliced
For the Sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion
1 lb ground beef 90% lean
6 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup red wine
1 x 28 oz can whole peel tomatoes
1 x 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tsp nutmeg ground
1 tsp roasted red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
For the Lasagna
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup ricotta
1/2 cup black olives sliced
Step one: Make the Cauliflower Pasta Sheets
Preheat the oven to 325 F and line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add the cauliflower florets and boil for 20 minutes, drain thoroughly (the less moisture the better).
Place the florets in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the egg, arrowroot powder, and salt, and process again, scraping down the sides as needed, until a smooth batter forms. It will be a similar consistency to runny mashed potatoes. Pour the batter onto the prepared sheet pan and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan. The dough will feel sticky when first removed from the oven, but will develop a rubbery texture as it cools.
Flip the sheet pan onto a work surface and slowly peel the parchment paper away. Cut the big rectangle into 8 lasagna noodles. You can use right away, or store in an airtight container with wax paper in between each noodle for up to 2 days.
Step two: Make the Pancetta Mushrooms
Place a large cast iron skillet over low-medium heat and add the pancetta. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the fat begins to render. Add the baby bella mushrooms and stir to coat in the pancetta fat. Sprinkle with salt and cook for 4-5 minutes. The idea here is to infuse the mushrooms with the pancetta flavor, but not cook completely, as they will continue to cook inside the lasagna. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pancetta and mushrooms from the skillet, leaving behind as much of the pancetta fat as possible.
Step three: Make the Sauce
Raise the heat to medium, add the onions to the skillet and sprinkle with salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until just starting to turn translucent. Add the ground beef to the skillet and sprinkle with salt. Use the edge of a wooden spatula to break up the meat into small pieces. Continue cooking and breaking it up until the meat is brown and you have one even mixture.
Use a wooden spatula to create a small, circular well in the middle of the beef and onion mixture, exposing the bottom of the cast iron skillet. Add 1 tbsp olive oil, then add the 6 minced garlic cloves and cook for 30 seconds, allowing the garlic to infuse the oil. Toss everything together to coat the beef and onion mixture with the garlic oil.
Smooth the mixture out as one even layer in the skillet. Add the red wine and allow it to reduce by half, this should take at least 3 minutes. Add both cans of crushed tomatoes, squeezing the whole peeled tomatoes with your hand as you add them. Add the nutmeg and roasted red pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning to preference with nutmeg, roasted red pepper, salt and pepper.
Step four: Assemble the Lasagna
Preheat the oven to 375 F. In a 9 x 13 pan, spread a little of the sauce, just enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Place a layer of 2-3 lasagna noodles, evenly spaced out. Top with a hefty 1 cup of sauce and spread evenly over the noodles. Sprinkle 1/3 of the pancetta mushrooms, 1/3 of the olives, 1/3 of the mozzarella, 1/3 of the parmesan, dollop with ricotta, and season with salt and pepper. Repeat this step 3 times.
Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and increase the temperature to 450 F. Discard the aluminum foil and return to the oven for 15 minutes to finish. It should be nice and brown on top.
Allow the lasagna to cool for 30 minutes before serving. This allows the lasagna to set, so it’s not falling apart when you attempt to remove a slice.