Moroccan Beef & Eggplant Pasta Bake (Gluten & Dairy Free)
On the weekend, I had a friend visit who was intolerant to both gluten and dairy. She expressed to me how excited she was to be invited over for dinner as all her friends are always at a loss when it comes to what they should cook for her.
Truth be told, I had been feeling the affects of gluten recently. My body was holding more water weight and overall, feeling rather heavy in the gut, so I welcomed the challenge to make something delicious for my friend and to combat the stigma of gluten free food being less tastier than their gluten counterparts.
I had been craving eggplant the whole week and I thought it would help to make the dish creamier. I only had 500g of beef mince in the fridge so I bulked it up with some vegetables. There are a few ingredients that you'll have to look hard to find, especially if you're not a GF & DF household but you'll be able to find them all at your local supermarket. Things like cauliflower flour are in the health aisle and there should be a section in the fridge aisle of most supermarkets for vegan cheeses. Of course, this recipe can be adapted for it to include normal pasta and dairy products. This recipe can also be made one day ahead until the last step, which you can do on the day of serving.
It's the perfect dish to take to a pot luck dinner or when you'd rather spend more time entertaining then cooking. I paired this with a light tomato & mint salad in a sumac dressing.
Moroccan Beef & Eggplant Pasta Bake (gluten/dairy free)
Serves 6 generously
Duration: up to 2 hours
1 brown onion diced
2 garlic cloves minced
1 medium carrot diced
1 medium zucchini diced
1 can of tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp Moroccan spice mix
1 tbsp oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup of beef stock
1/4 cup of lactose-free milk
500g vegan mozzarella
1 large eggplant sliced into 1/2cm thick rounds (extra oil to brush on for roasting)
750g Gluten-free spirals
250ml garlic dip dairy-free
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp cauliflower flour (Woolworths health aisle)
1 cup of lactose-free milk
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 180c fan-forced.
Prepare the ingredients for the sauce. Heat oil in a heavy-based medium saucepan on high heat, then add onions, garlic, carrots, reduce the heat to medium and sauté for 5 minutes or until onion is brown. Add Moroccan spices, stir and cook for 2 minutes before adding the beef mince. Mix well to incorporate the spices with the vegetables and mince. Once the beef is brown, add tomato paste, canned tomato and beef stock. Bring it up to boil, place a lid on, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for at least half an hour to 45 mins, stirring once or twice to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom. In the last half an hour, add zucchini, milk and check for seasoning. Add salt and pepper accordingly.
Prepare your eggplant. Slice eggplants into round discs, place them on a lined baking tray, drizzle olive oil on both sides and pop them in the oven for 10 mins, there’s no need to flip them. You may need to do a couple of batches. Set aside until it’s time to assemble. Leave the oven on for later.
Prepare the pasta as per packet instructions minus 1 minute cooking time so it can keep cooking in the oven. Drain the pasta, stir through garlic dip and set aside until needed.
To make the bechamel sauce, heat the lactose-free milk and chicken stock in a small saucepan until warm, careful it doesn’t burn, keep an eye on it. Once it starts to steam, you’re good to go. In a separate saucepan, on medium heat, add coconut oil. Once the coconut oil is heated, add cauliflower flour and whisk until clumps form. Keep whisking and slowly add the warm milk and stock a little at a time. You want to whisk until the consistency is smooth and thick. Add a little more milk if it seems too thick and gluggy, you want it to coat the back of a spoon easily. Add nutmeg, salt, pepper and nutritional yeast and whilst still whisking. Taste and season accordingly, you don’t want this to be too salty, it should be a nutty creamy flavour that’s not overpowering. Set aside until ready to assemble.
Assembling, you’ll need a deep casserole dish, start with a thin layer of sauce, then roasted eggplant, pasta, meat sauce and then half the vegan mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layers starting with eggplant, pasta and sauce. Depending on how deep your casserole dish is, you may be able to fit it an extra layer of eggplant, but leave room at the top for the bechamel sauce and sprinkle the rest of the vegan mozzarella to finish.
Place casserole dish on a baking tray in case there's spillage, place tray with the dish in the oven and cook for 30-40 mins. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes before serving.