Friday, October 17, 2014

Recipe for Sausage and Kale Mock Lasagna Casserole (Low-Carb, Gluten-Free)

This Sausage and Kale Mock Lasagna is so delicious, you won't even miss the noodles!

(For Phase One Fridays I feature Phase One Recipes from the past that have been my personal favorites. Phase One Recipes are also Low-Carb and Gluten-Free.   This delicious mock lasagna that I first posted in 2012 has all the flavors that make lasagna good without the pasta, enjoy!)

I love creating Phase One recipe ideas beyond the usual grilled-meat-and-salad meals that many people rely on when they're watching their weight.  Not that I don't enjoy a delicious piece of meat or fish and a tasty green salad, but after a few days of that I start to crave something that's more in the "comfort food" category.  I had comfort food in mind when I came up with the idea for Ham and Cauliflower Casserole au Gratin, and this Sausage and Kale Mock Lasagna is another comforting casserole that's so loaded with flavor that you won't even miss the lasagna noodles.  When I made this I ate it for lunch and dinner two days in a row, and if I hadn't put some in the freezer, I might have had it the next day as well!  If you're not a fan of kale yet, other sturdy greens like chard or collards would probably work, but I don't think softer greens like spinach would hold up that well in this.

I used two medium-sized bunches of kale.  (If you're observant you'll see they're from two different stores because when I had the recipe concept more clear in my mind, I went back to the store and got a second bunch of kale before I started!)

I cut off the kale stems and then cut the leaves into ribbons that were about 1/2 inch thick.

The kale was boiled about 5-6 minutes in a pot of lightly salted water.

Then let the kale drain very well while you work on the other ingredients.  (I actually used my salad spinner to gently spin the cooked kale and then let it sit to air-dry more while I made the sauce.)

While the kale is cooking, start brown the turkey Italian sausage until it's cooked through and nicely browned.

Add 3 cups low-sugar pasta sauce along with some dried basil and ground fennel, and let the sauce simmer on low 20-25 minutes.

Simmer the sauce until it's reduced and slightly thickened like this.

In a casserole dish make a layer of 1/2 the well-drained kale with 2 T finely grated Parmesan sprinkled over it.

Top that with half of the sauce mixture and 1 cup of reduced-fat grated Mozzarella.  (I used a low-fat blend.)  Then make another layer of kale, Parmesan, sauce, and mozzarella.

Cover the dish with foil and bake 20-25 minutes covered; then uncover and bake 15-20 minutes more.

Let the mock lasagna sit a few minutes before you cut it; serve hot.


Sausage and Kale Mock Lasagna Casserole
(Makes 6-8 servings; recipe created by Kalyn.)

Ingredients:
2 medium-sized bunches of kale
1 tsp. salt (for water to cook kale)
2 tsp. olive oil
1 pkg (19.5 oz) hot turkey Italian Sausage
3 cups low-sugar pasta sauce (I used Classico Tomato and Basil sauce from a jar because I didn't have any homemade sauce)
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. ground fennel
2 T + 2 T finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 C + 1 C grated reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375F/190C.  Spray a 9" x 12" lasagna-type glass or crockery casserole dish with olive oil or non-stick spray.

Add the salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil.  Trim stems from the kale, then cut the kale into ribbons about 1/2 inch wide.  When the water starts to boil add the kale, lower heat so the water is gently boiling, and cook kale 5-6 minutes.  Drain kale into a colander in the sink and let it continue to drain while you prepare other ingredients.  (I used a salad spinner to gently spin the water from the cooked kale and then let it continue to drain.)

While the kale is cooking, heat the oil in a large heavy frying pan, squeeze sausage out of the casings, and saute until the sausage is cooked through and nicely browned, breaking it apart with the turner as it cooks.  When the sausage is done, add the pasta sauce, dried basil, and ground fennel.  Stir to combine and let the sauce simmer 20-25 minutes, or until it's thickened and the liquid is reduced.

In the casserole dish, layer 1/2 the drained kale, sprinkle 2 T Parmesan, 1/2 the sauce, and 1 cup mozzarella.  Repeat with another layer of kale, Parmesan, sauce, and mozzarella.  Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake another 15-20 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbling and cheese is starting to brown.

Let the mock lasagna sit for about 5 minutes before you cut it.  Serve hot.  

I am guessing this freezes well, although I haven't thawed out any of my frozen servings yet.


South Beach Suggestions: 
If you're making this recipe for the South Beach Diet, it's important to use low-sugar pasta sauce (get the lowest sugar one you can find; the Classico Tomato and Basil Sauce I used had 5 grams of sugar per 1/2 cup.)  South Beach also recommends lower-fat turkey Italian sausage and reduced fat mozzarella.  When those instructions are followed, this is suitable for any phase of the South Beach Diet.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Phase One Ideas with Kale:
Kale and Feta Breakfast Casserole
Kale, Bacon, and Cheese Breakfast Casserole
Raw Kale Salad with Pecorino (or Parmesan) and Lemon
Artichoke, Kale, and Ricotta Pie with Eggs and Parmesan
Kale and Romaine Caesar Salad

Blogger Disclosure:
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at Amazon.com, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

80 comments:

  1. Yum! I am a kale fan and lover. What a creative way to use it!

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  2. I've never had kale. What does it taste like?

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  3. Wow, this looks yummy! With all my favorite foods - sausage, kale, and marinara sauce. I've been craving lasagna, but wondering how to make it work for my gluten intolerant stepson.

    You've given me a solution. Can't wait to give this a try.

    What a fun way to eat your greens!

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  4. Kalyn, such a clever low carb lasagna! I love kale and would love to try this.

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  5. Alyssa, I love kale too. Glad you like the recipe.

    Jana, it's a green like spinach but with a stronger, slightly bitter flavor. I'd say it's an acquired taste, but in a dish like this where it's cooked with the tomato sauce it's much sweeter and very delicious.

    Martha, thanks! Glad you like it.

    Jeanette, I loved it; really made the kale tasty to be cooked in the sauce.

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  6. Absolutely loving this idea Kalyn. Been craving lasagna lately and really like the fact that this kind of cheats away the pasta! ;o)

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  7. All the flavors of lasagna but without all the calories and and carbs? Count me in! I love my pasta, but I also LOVE my skinny jeans. This sounds fabulous!

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  8. It looks like a fabulous mock lasagna. I don't know if I've ever eaten kale. I'm sure this would be a great way to start.

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  9. This looks so good! have an extra bag of Kale that I need to use up and some chicken sausage that was destined for the doggies. I'll be making this instead!

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  10. Ingenious! And as I've promised to eat more dark leafy greens this year, this lasagna is zooming to the top of my list.

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  11. Your Kale Lasagna has become a staple in our house, so having this Phase I variation is a surprising twist.

    Kale is a SUPERFOOD. I don't think it has a cape and flies around, but it is supposed to have lots of vitamins and be extra healthy for us.

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  12. Thanks all, so glad you guys are liking the idea.

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  13. This sounds so delicious... I am definitely trying it soon!

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  14. Love, love, love! We have kale in our Florida winter garden right now, and lots of it. Because I'm wheat intolerant, I'm always looking for new ways to incorporate my favorite flavors without relying on noodle substitutes. I adore lasagna and always make my own sauce (so it is sugar FREE!) I love eating more healthy by incorporating greens, and cutting out high glycemic starches. This looks like something I'll make this week-end!

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  15. This looks ridiculously good!! My husband and I recently discovered how delicious kale is. I can't wait to try it.

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  16. I LOVE this idea, Kalyn - and I even have some kale still growing in my kitchen garden. But now I think I'd better order a few extra packets of kale seeds for spring! :)

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  17. I am new to this blog and excited to explore the recipes. Do you give any nutritional info on your recipes?

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  18. I'm happy so many people are liking this (and jealous of all of you who still have garden kale!)

    Vicky, I explain why I do not provide nutritional information in the FAQ at the top of the blog.

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  19. I've done something similar but I kept it too diet-y (no meat). This looks so much more satisfying. Thanks for posting it.

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  20. Please, do not be jealous of us with garden kale, at least not of me. While I have kale year round, I have no tomatoes, no peppers, no zucchini, etc. Fortunately, other greens also grow here and there, so the bed doesn't look like a monoculture. I'll give a try to this recipe for sure. As an aside, I freeze cooked kale too, so even if the garden takes a little break, I have plenty of kale available.

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  21. I made a small pan of this the other night (with a few minor tweaks), and it was great—my five-year-old daughter especially liked it. ("*I* don't matter if there's no pasta, Mom," she said.) Thanks so much for sharing all these fun dishes this month!

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  22. FOODalogue, the sausage really did give this great flavor.

    Simona, I guess I wouldn't give up my warm weather crops, good point. I am going to try freezing cooked kale!

    Liana, glad everyone enjoyed it!

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  23. This was really tasty, Kalyn! Only change I made was to finely chop the stems and toss them in with the sausage when browning. No kale left behind! :)

    PS: I've been reading your blog for over a year now, but this is my first comment. I should have said thank you months ago - your recipes have played a large role in my lifestyle change. Better late than never, I hope - thank you!!!

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  24. Heather, great idea to use the stems!! So glad to hear you are enjoying the blog.

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  25. This was SO delicious! My husband was skeptical, but he wound up eating two pieces. The kale flavor really did mellow in the tomato sauce and was so rich-tasting. I also added about 1/3 cup of grated aged cheddar, just because I had it on hand and was a little short on mozz. Thank you for the recipe!

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  26. Thanks Mary! I love that the recipe won over someone who was skeptical!

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  27. Bought me 2 lovely bunches of kale yesterday with plans to make this for dinner tonight. And then found out I have a evening meeting tonight. How do you think the kale will keep in the fridge? I have very little experience with kale, so thought I'd ask since you seem to work with it a bunch. =)

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  28. Kale will stay good in the fridge for at least a week, maybe more. Hope you enjoy it!

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  29. This was so delicious! It honestly did not seem like it was missing pasta. My husband said it reminded him of deep-dish pizza. A new favorite recipe for Phase One or any time!

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  30. Nicole, so glad you enjoyed it. I have kale on my shopping list so I can make it again.

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  31. We had this tonight and loved it! I have been doing something similar with a cauliflower/cottage cheese layer instead of kale and I think I prefer the kale! Thanks Kalyn, I am looking forward to many more great ideas!

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  32. So glad you liked it. I loved the way the kale got cooked with the tomato/sausage flavors.

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  33. This was absolutely delicious. I will be making this again. I am so grateful I found Kalyn’s Kitchen. I LOVE your recipes.
    Gay

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  34. Thanks Gay. Of course I love hearing that!

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  35. Ok, this was absolutely AWESOME!!! Hubby even asked for seconds! Yep! Best. Use. Of. Kale. EVER!!! YAY! =)

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  36. So glad you liked it as much as I did!

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  37. I made this last night and it was delicious. We did not even miss the pasta. Mine was a bit on the salty side and I think that is because I added extra Parmesan cheese over the top. I will make this again. Thank you so much for this "keeper" recipe!

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  38. Glad you liked it! I do think Parmesan is pretty salty. I was trying to use the minimum of it that I could get away with and still get some of that flavor.

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  39. We made this for dinner last night and LOVED it. Couldn't get our 19-month old to try it, but we'll keep working on him. Thanks for the great recipe!

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  40. Made this for the second time tonight...it's amazing and it freezes well! Thanks :)

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  41. YUMMO! This is now one of my husband's favorite meals! I am making again next week. We all loved it! We are on a low carb diet so this is perfect! Who needs the noodles whe you have kale? Brilliant!

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  42. How would you freeze this? I'd like to prepare it earlier on the week and cook it during a busy weekday... would that be possible?

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  43. I honestly don't know how it would work to freeze this before it's baked, but since the kale is slightly pre-cooked it might work. Would love to know how it turns out if you try it.

    I do know it freezes well after it's cooked.

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  44. This is my new favorite recipe! I'm blogging about it and encouraging others to try it and comment on this post if they like it. Let's see what happens!

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  45. Glad you like it; I love this recipe too!

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  46. this is the second time I've made this and I LOVE it!!!! I don't miss "real" lasagna one bit!! The first time I made it, I salted the water (for cooking the kale) as I would for cooking pasta....ew! Way too salty- but entirely my fault for not reading the recipe!!! Last night, I followed the recipe and it was perfect!!! Even the first batch, while salty, was still delicious! This might be my favorite of Kalyn's recipes!!! I think you could add additional vegetables if you like, maybe mushrooms would be fabulous - but I wonder if it would be too soupy? I'll try it next time and let y'all know~

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  47. Amanda, so glad you have been enjoying it so much! I think mushrooms that were sauteed until all the water was released might be a great addition!

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  48. I made this for dinner tonight and it was wonderful, but really salty. I just checked the comments to see if anyone else had the same result. I'm not sure if next time (and there will be a next time!) I would use half the parmesan or cut out the salt when cooking the kale. Does kale really need the salt? I've never cooked with kale before.
    Karen

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  49. Usually the salt in the cooking water doesn't make things taste salty unless you use really a lot of salt, but Parmesan is definitely salty, and some kinds are more salty than others so that may be it. Maybe try a bit less salt for the water (I would not skip it completely myself, but your call) and a bit less parmesan.

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  50. Yum. Yum. Yum. I had this for dinner tonight after buying a HUGE bag of Earthbound Farms Organic Baby Kale at Costco today and then wondering how in the world I was going to eat a pound and a half of kale by myself!. I'm vegetarian so I used Field Roast Italian "sausage" rather than real sausage. I loved it but I also found that it was quite salty. I'm guessing it was a combination of the sauce I used (Trader Joes organic marinara), the Pecorino cheese I used, and the sausage. I'll definitely make this again with a little less pecorino. Thanks for your wonderful wonderful recipes, Kalyn!! And for all of the suggestions as to what to do with all this kale. :)

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  51. while looking for new South Beach dinner recipes I came across this one! Making it tonight! Hope it comes out of the oven looking 1/2 as good as it looked when it went in :)

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  52. Thanks for the great recipe! My family and I loved it tonight!

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  53. Robin, so glad to hear it was a hit.

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  54. Searched all over Pinterest for the perfect recipe to use up the half bag of kale I had. Found your recipe, made it and it is fabulous! Can't wait to make it for my bunco ladies! Thank you!

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  55. Made this tonight...FABULOUS! Thanks so much!!

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  56. Any update on how the freezer portion worked when thawed? Need to do a bunch of plan ahead meals with my new work schedule and if this freezes/thaws well I'd love to add it to the list!

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  57. Rebecca, it was great after being frozen! I gave a few of my frozen servings to my niece and her husband and they raved about it.

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  58. How do you reheat this after it has been frozen? Oven, microwave? Do you defrost and then reheat? I have the ingredients on hand for this meal but we won't be able to eat it for about two weeks due to schedule conflicts. So in the freezer it will go!

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  59. Jen, I divide my leftover into individual servings to freeze, and I freeze in glass dishes so I can just microwave right in the dish. It can be thawed or not, although I thaw in the fridge when I remember to plan ahead. If you're freezing the entire casserole I would thaw in the fridge and then reheat in the oven. Maybe bake it slightly less time initially if you know you're going to freeze and reheat. Hope you enjoy!

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  60. I have curly and lacino kale...does any onw know if one would be better? I haven't cooked with the lacino yet, but it is in my garden.

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  61. I think both will work, but I used plain curly green kale.

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  62. The only way to accurately describe how good this is is with a gratuitous amount of swear words.

    So I'll simply say thank you, it was delicious.

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  63. Dave, so glad you enjoyed it. I love this recipe; need to make it myself again soon!

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  64. Kalyn, you are amazing! I will try this recipe tomorrow night. Can't wait.

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  65. Thanks, hope you (and Sam) will enjoy it!

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  66. Made this tonight, I added ricotta cheese mixed with an egg and Parmesan. It was delicious, every recipe of yours I have made thus far has been amazing. Hubs went for thirds!! Thank you!!!

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  67. Lia, so glad you are enjoying the recipes!

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  68. Thank you for this recipe. We love it. I'd like to assemble during my son's nap and bake at supper time. Any reason this should not work?

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  69. Deb, I'm sure that will be fine. If the casserole is refrigerated in between time, I'd let it come to room temperature before baking.

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  70. Thank you so much. That's what I thought. It always takes longer to make suppers like this with little ones under feet.

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  71. Wow! I just have to say this recipe is so good that I actually just signed up for an account so I could make this comment! I'm trying to cut down on carbs and this was a real winner. The husband, who does the actual cooking, was a bit reluctant to make this when I handed him the recipe; however, he liked it so much that he went back for seconds, which he never does. Amazing! Now I need to try some more of your recipes. It's so hard to find stuff that is healthy for me yet still tasty for him. Thank you!!!

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  72. Hi Charlene,
    Thanks for making that extra effort to comment, and so glad you enjoyed it!

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  73. I will most definitely be making this at some point during the week. I'm back on phase 1 since I've plateaud and knew I could depend on your site for ideas. Thanks as always

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  74. We made it last night! My husband, who as a single person ate almost no vegetables, devoured a third of it himself. I love your ideas! Thanks!

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    1. How I love hearing that; thanks for taking time to let me know you liked it!

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