Worlds (secretly) healthiest lasagna

I am sure 95% of people who read this will either cringe or roll their eyes, but… I don’t really like pasta. Or rice.

No, it isn’t that I just say that because I want to avoid carbs; I genuinely just don’t get much mouth bliss when I eat either. In my opinion, pasta and rice are quite bland and dilute the deliciousness of the flavors surrounding them. Basically, I was the kid that used two cheese packets on her Kraft and would be mocked “would you like some pasta with your meat sauce?” Perhaps it is that I have never had truly great pasta, but even in Italy, the slippery ribbons of wheat didn’t do much for me. I do enjoy some grains though, but that is because they have flavor in their own right. When preparing a dish that is typically tainted with pasta or rice, I usually sub in bulgur, amaranth, or more veggies. For example, last week I was having a strange craving for lasagna (which means I was actually craving meaty marinara) and decided to find a way to make it sans pasta. I still wanted layers of cheese, sauce, and meat, but I needed a new medium to act as the barrier. What is green and resembles doppia riccia noodles? Cabbage of course!

Not Your Mama’s Lasagna

Recipe: Makes 4 (huge) servings

1 lb beef, 90% lean

1 head of cabbage (you will use around the outer most half of leaves)

1 cup mozzarella cheese (full fat)

parmesan cheese

For the sauce – 

1 can TJ’s diced and fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles

1 can tomato paste

3 garlic cloves

3 tbsp chopped red onion

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp garlic grapeseed oil (I used Apres Vin, but you could also use extra virgin olive oil)

basil, a handful fresh or several shakes dried


garlic salt

dash thyme

dash parsley


Directions – 1. Preheat the oven to 350. Brown the beef on the stove top and set aside.

2. Prepare the sauce by combining the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, garlic, basil, oregano, thyme, sugar, garlic oil, parsley, garlic salt, and salt in a blender and pulsing until combined. You can make it as chunky or smooth as you wish. Taste test and add any more spice if desired. Pour into the pan with the beef and stir. You can let it marinate for a few minutes on low heat while you prepare the cabbage.

3. Steam the cabbage the lazy way by placing the entire head in a microwave-safe bowl with 2 tbsp water, covering with another bowl or plate, and nuking for about 2-3 minutes. Cut off the very bottom of the cabbage. Carefully peel off the leaves of cabbage and lay on a towel to dry.

4. Grease an oven-safe 13 x 9 x 2 dish with olive oil. Place a layer of cabbage leaves on the base. Add a layer of meaty pasta sauce. Sprinkle on a third of the mozzarella cheese and some parmesan. Sprinkle on more garlic salt, oregano, parsley and thyme. Add another layer of cabbage leaves. Top with a layer of pasta sauce. Add another layer of cheese and spices. Repeat once more or until you are out of pasta sauce and cheese. Bake covered with foil for 25 minutes and uncovered for ~10 minutes or until the cheese is browned to your liking.

Even my pasta and rice loving roomy Kristi loved this lasagna.


Tomatoes * also contain a LOT of vitamin A and C. Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant that has been shown in studies to reduce the effects of smoking. This does not mean it is okay to smoke, but if you do, it is a VERY good idea to make sure are getting lots of vitamin A daily. Tomatoes are also rich in lycopene, which has been proven to halt the growth of cancer cells!

Lean beef *  An excellent source of iron, B vitamins, zinc, selenium, phosphorous, and of course protein. Don’t be scared of beef’s fat content! Check out my post on saturated fats here.

Basil * Has anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants called flavonoids. Flavonoids protect your cells from damage (and thus, in the long run, cancer).

I loved this lasagna. It was cheesy, hearty, and packed with flavor. No noodles to spoil the party ;).

16 thoughts on “Worlds (secretly) healthiest lasagna

  1. I’m not really the biggest fan of noodles, either. I would rather order 5 meatballs at an italian restaurant than eat the pasta. In fact, I do that!

  2. wow how innovative! I would never have thought to make a lasagna with cabbage!
    Another awesome recipe 🙂

  3. i totally feel ya on the not liking pasta thing… i’ve never really liked pasta or pizza (i.e. italian food – though i did like the food i ate while i was in venice; didn’t really like florentine food very much!). and i know people have that reaction, “how can you not like pasta/pizza?!” but i just don’t, just like i don’t like melted cheese or cheese sauces.. i’m weird like that, but hey, different stroke for different folks! i like rice though! mainly brown rice. (and i actually like chinese noodles; just not italian pasta but did you know marco polo brought noodles over from china to italy which is how they started making pasta? random fact of the day) cabbage is such a creative way to subsititute for lasagna noodles though! awesome =)

    1. I dont really like pizza either!!! But I thought that would be too much to say on the blog. Rice, pasta, AND PIZZA??? People might crap themselves. There are more exceptions to the pizza though. I definitely enjoy really high quality pizza. And ironically, I am going to dinner at an Italian place tomorrow because my friend Sara really wants to go. So I am going to order the best sounding pasta dish and see what happens!

  4. I love cabbage…at one time, I was buying a head of cabbage a week. Needless to say, this recipe makes me excited! Thank you for sharing another inspired eat. I hope you had a good Friday…and are staying cool! I’m looking forward to a weekend of baking and relaxing. Much love!

  5. THANK YOU! People usually think my aversion to pasta is because of carbophobia…I just don’t really like the stuff. The only noodle dishes I like are ones with toooons of smothering sauce, like fettuccine alfredo. Nowadays I’d much rather have the sauce on top of veggies. I like the lasagna idea! I’ve made enchiladas with cabbage leaves, but never lasagna.

    And I’m glad to see someone isn’t still deluded by bad science regarding saturated fats. Drives me bonkers when people act like saturated fat is toxic. Because it’s not like our brains are made from lots of saturated fat or anything O_o

  6. OHHHH MY! i LOVE THIS. Seriously.

    I am not a fan of rice or pasta, either. I’ll stick with the sauce in a large bowl with a spoon. Hold the pasta. But this just sounds/looks/(I wish I could) smell amazing!!!

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