Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Low carb, keto, gluten-free lasagna made from edible curly dock weeds

Before I started formally foraging, I hit a mental wall. I was afraid to pick wild plants, not because I wasn't sure of my identification, my grandmothers had been teaching me since I was able to walk, but because I was afraid they would go to waste. I thought I didn't know how to cook wild greens. I saw some of the pros make amazing, gourmet meals entirely out of foraged ingredients, and I knew I could never do that.

But eventually I realized I didn't have to. Using foraged wild edible plants is easy. It doesn't need require a million crazy ingredients, expert techniques, or a lot of time. All you need to start foraging and eating is to make simple replacements in your day-to-day meals.

Pasta free lasagna is a favorite dish if you are trying to eat keto, low carb or gluten-free. It usually substitutes strips of zucchini or eggplant for the pasta, but on a whim I made an easy foraged substitution: curly dock leaves!

The large, tender dock leaves I harvested from shady areas work perfectly. They are about the size of lasagna sheets, anyway. Unlike zucchini or eggplant, they don't have a high water content, so they don't require the tedious processes of pre-cooking and draining that fleshier veggies need. They are thinner than pasta, but I solved that by simply doing a double layer - horizontally first and vertically second.

Moment of truth: how do they taste?!

Amazing! I really wouldn't share with you if they didn't.  My husband actually said that the finished meal tasted very similar to lasagna that he'd had in Italy! If that isn't extremely flattering to hear, I don't know what is. But it's really not so surprising. European cuisine, particularly that of the Mediterranean, frequently uses local, wild herbs as seasonings, making meals that are impossible to replicate using exclusively store-bought ingredients.

It smelled so good coming out of the oven that I immediately cut in and tried it, without waiting for it to "set" or even waiting for a good picture! The taste was totally worth a little extra juice, and my burned mouth, lol!

Low carb, gluten-free, curly dock lasagna recipe

Fills a standard 10x14 baking dish

About 4 cups of curly dock leaves, rinsed and dried
1 lb ground beef, or a beef/pork mix
3 links hot Italian sausage
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
3 large eggs
28 oz whole peeled plum (roma) tomatoes
2 sweet onions, diced
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs. powdered garlic
1 tbs. dried oregano
1 tbs. dried basil
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, optional
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tbs. olive oil.  Add the garlic and onion, and cook until translucent. Remove 2/3 of the garlic and onion from the pan, and set aside.

Begin removing the skins of the sausage, and crumbling the meat within. Add the sausage and ground meat to the pan, with the remaining garlic and onion.  After the fat has started to render, mix in your dried oregano, basil, crushed red pepper, and 1 tbs. powdered garlic. Season with salt and black pepper. Stirring occasionally, and breaking up all the meat, cook over medium high heat until all the meat is browned. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.

Add the set aside onion and garlic to the pan. Add in the whole peeled plum tomatoes, breaking them up with your hands or wooden spoon. Bring to a simmer, and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Taste, and make sure the flavors have come together. Add additional seasonings, if you like.

Pour out half the tomato sauce, and set aside. Add your meat mix back in to the remaining sauce. Stir over medium heat, until all the meat is covered.

In a separate bowl, mix your ricotta, eggs, parmesan, and 1 tbs. powdered garlic. Season with salt and pepper.

Lay the curly dock leaves lengthwise across the bottom of the 10 x 14 glass or ceramic baking dish. When everything is more or less covered, add a second layer of leaves, going with the width of the pan. Next time, I might add a third layer for more flavor. Spread your meat and sauce mix over the dock layer.

Cover with a second double layer of curly dock leaves. Pour a thick layer of the reserved tomato sauce across the dock. Evenly spread your ricotta/egg/parm mix over that. Cover with final double layer of curly dock.

Sprinkle the top of the dock covering with mozzarella. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, checking that the cheese is properly browned and everything is bubbling enticingly before you remove.  Cover with foil and allow it to "set" for about 10 minutes (that thing I didn't do), before cutting in and serving. Enjoy!

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