When my eldest son was born, we lived in little Oxford, Ohio. The local hospital, Mcullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital (nicknamed “Kill ’em and Hide ’em” by the students of local Miami University) is where he was born. My wife went through many hours of labor and at some point there was a decision to take the baby via Caesarian section. They took my wife and I suited up (I’m a big guy and they only had scrubs for what seemed to be an 8 year old) and joined her in the operating room. The operation was quick and went without problems. Once they pulled him out, he gave a nice healthy cry and the nurses whisked him away to clean him up.
Shortly after being returned to the recovery room a nurse came up to us and told us that she was holding him for his first cry and the angle was perfect for her to notice that he had a big hole in the roof of his mouth, a cleft palate. We very quickly learned that with the cleft, he could not get much suction and we started many months of squeezeable baby bottles that we would have to gently squeeze small amounts into his mouth.
Years of doctors appointments, speech therapy and three surgeries followed. After the last surgery, his recovery in the hospital lasted much longer than we expected. The problem? He wouldn’t eat. Milkshake? Not interested. Jello? Get it away from him. Nothing soft could get the five-year old to eat. While he was forbidden from using a straw, the consistency had to be soft and small enough to fit through a straw. If he didn’t eat, they wouldn’t release him. Four days later we eventually got the bare minimum in him to be released, but the lack of eating continued at home. We tried all we could think of.
I had made a lasagna for my wife and I and although the meat and noodles were soft, it wasn’t the consistency he needed due to the mouth surgery. An idea popped into my head and I asked him if I could make him something that would be smooth but taste just like lasagna. His face lit up (this is my pasta boy after all). I cut a small slice of the dish and threw it into a blender with a little water. After a minute of blending, I poured out lasagna into a glass. Frankly, it looked pretty gross, but he took a sip. Then another. Then a big drink. In very short order the glass was empty and I was making seconds. Lucky for us, once his appetite returned, it didn’t leave.
Very common ingredients, plus a little celery.
Frying the aromatics.
Browning the meat.
Prepping the cheese.
Starting the layers. The dish calls for really a single layer of each.
I did use noodles on half for the full carbers that were coming for dinner.
Topping with cheese.
Noodles on the left, no noodles on the right.
You really don’t miss the pasta in this hearty dish.
Low Carb Meat Lasagna
Prep Time: 30 mins | Cook Time: 45 mins | Makes: 8 | Difficulty: Medium
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups diced celery
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 15 ounces tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- CHEESE FILLING
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1) Preheat oven to 350°
2) Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the celery and onion and cook until slightly tender.
3) Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Drain off the excess fat with a spoon or turkey baster.
4) Add the tomato sauce, garlic, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and simmer for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat.
5) Mix the ingredients for the cheese filling together in a bowl using half the mozzarella.
6) Fill the bottom of the baking dish with the meat filling and top with the cheese filling.
7) Cover the top with the remaining 8 ounces of mozzarella.
8) Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the top starts to become golden and bubbly.
9) Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.