Italian-Paleo Eggplant with Crumbled Beef, Tomatoes and Mint

Eggplant and crumbled organic beef recipe with tomatoes and mint
Gluten-free eggplant recipe with crumbled beef, tomatoes and mint.

Mediterranean Flavors

The classic Italian flavors are all here- eggplant, tomato, garlic, onion and oregano with a twist of fresh chopped mint nudging it over into Greek territory- but there's not a speck of gluten or dairy.

Mediterranean goodness on a plate.

This recipe is for those of us who miss eggplant Parmesan- a little something I threw together this week when my craving for a slab of eggplant Parm (as we called it back in Massachusetts) heated up to such a fever pitch that all I could think about was, How? How to translate a dish so fiercely reliant on a fried breadcrumb coating and slabs of melty Parmesan cheese? A dish so not gluten-free. Or dairy-free. Or lower glycemic friendly to this waist-whittling goddess.

Thin, weeped eggplant slices are brushed lightly with a little extra virgin olive oil and roasted in a hot oven- all by their lonesome. This makes for a delicate, slightly crispy eggplant slice, let me tell you. Topped with a homemade ragu of Italian tomatoes, browned ground organic beef with onions and garlic and herbs and a splash of balsamic vinegar- it's love, Mediterranean style. It is sustenance. It is flavor. And it's dairy-free.

Italian-Style Paleo: Eggplant with Crumbled Beef, Tomatoes and Mint

This rustic, simple Mediterranean dish is hearty and delicious- without being heavy. And I didn't miss the fried crumbs or the cheese. Honestly. Cooking light? Use ground turkey instead of beef. Vegetarians- simply omit the beef and add some chopped Baby Bella mushrooms.


2 medium firm eggplants
Sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3/4 pound ground organic free-range beef or buffalo meat
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon marjoram or basil
1 teaspoon thyme
6 Italian plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup light broth or pure plain tomato juice, as needed
2-3 fresh mint sprigs


Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Weep the eggplant to remove the bitterness. Salt the slices of eggplant and toss them into a colander. Allow them to "weep" moisture for 20 minutes. Press with a spatula to squeeze any last remaining liquid. Rinse in cold water briefly; drain. Pat dry with a clean tea towel.

Lay the slices on a baking sheet and brush lightly on both sides with a little olive oil. Roast the slices in the oven till fork tender and a wee bit crispy around the edges. This takes maybe 20 to 30 minutes or so depending upon your oven, altitude and the thickness of your eggplant.

In the meantime heat a deep sided skillet on medium-high heat and cook the onions for five minutes or so, till softened; add and cook the ground beef, breaking it apart and stirring a bit here and there until nicely browned.

Add the chopped garlic, oregano, marjoram and thyme. Stir and cook a minute.

Add the tomatoes, balsamic and broth; stir and bring to a simmer. season with sea salt, to taste. Reduce heat and cover, keeping it on a steady slow simmer.

Cook for about 15 minutes- till the beef is thoroughly cooked. If you need a small amount of liquid at this point, add a splash of broth. Remove from heat.

Lightly oil four individual serving gratin dishes or a single shallow baking dish such as an 9 x 12-inch baking dish.

When the eggplant is done remove the baking sheet from the oven and reset your oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Divide the cooked eggplant slices among the four individual gratin dishes (or layer them into a single baking dish).

Top with the cooked beef and tomato mixture.

Bake in a 350ºF moderate oven till heated through- about 15 to 20 minutes.

Chop some of the mint leaves and sprinkle on the dish before serving. Add a mint sprig for color.

Serve the baked eggplant with a generous crisp green salad.

If you'd like to serve this dish with a grain it pairs well with low glycemic brown rice or cooked quinoa pilaf.

Serves 4.

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Lulu Barbarian said...

This looks great. I haven't used mint in this sort of dish, but I'm pretty sure I'd love it.

I have to say that ever since I learned to cook eggplant in the Mediterranean style, I prefer it to Eggplant Parmagiana. The breadcrumbs and cheese just make for a heavier dish, and I really like the lighter, more "vegetably" taste.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Beef and mint -- such a great combination, and so often overlooked. I've got tons of mint in my garden this year, and I've been trying it with everything, just to see what works and what doesn't. This salad will go on my list to try; it looks delicious.

Lauren said...

Looks fabulous, fresh, and low carb. Bet a nice palmful of freshly grated parmesan would put it over the top. With all that flavor it might not be necessary!

I Am Gluten Free said...

Mouth-watering goodness. Yum! Thanks for posting such a fab sounding recipe! ~Ellen

Cheryl said...

Wow, count me in. I hated eggplant growing up, and have no doubt that I'd enjoy it if I tried it again! This looks like the perfect way to test that theory.

Tartelette said...

Beef and mint go so well together...I should know better than come here right before I am cooking dinner....not only I am hungrier but I might completely change our menu!! But again, I am glad I cam here before dinner!!

One800Mom said...

I made this tonight after reading the recipe yesterday. It is so delicious that I hope my family will not want to try any. Then I can squirrel the leftovers away for lunches at work!

milhan said...

Better than adding a little parmesan cheese to finish it off (for those who eat dairy) this with some plain yogurt! It would give it a real Turkish flair...yum.

Nick said...

I actually had something very similar to this in an Afghani restaurant once, though without the second trip to the oven. Fried slices of eggplant simply layered on a plate with a spiced, ground beef tomato sauce, and a creamy yogurt sauce. It was delicious.

Tay said...

Hi, Karina! I wanted to thank you for your blog in general -- I love your recipes, and what's more, they constantly inspire my boyfriend to cook, which is pretty rad.

I started the SBD yesterday, inspired by you & helped along by your and Kalyn's recipes. Your blog about the B word really hit home. Funny how "healing enough to gain weight" and "perfecting your gluten free junk food making abilities" seem to come about around the same time for many of us.

Anyway, you're doing a great job! These recipes are all just to die for, and it's pretty exciting to eat them and be like, "hey, I'm actually on a diet!" I am rooting for you! Go Karina!

Anonymous said...

This is a great recipe. I love eggplants and will definitely try it this way, for the light and "non bloating " way to go from now on....
When a parmesany taste is all that will do, I use a product i found at my local health food store: it's called " Rice Grated topping, parmesan flavor" from Galaxy Nutritional Foods. It comes in a small bottle, and you can sprinkle it on whatever needs a little cheesy oomph. Oh, and, small but so important detail:it's cholesterol, trans fat, lactose and gluten free.
I love your blog, wich I discovered a few months ago. Delicious recipes, in such an artful environnment. Love it!
p.s I'm french canadian. And not so used to write in english. Pardonnez mes erreurs!

Karina said...

Thanks, everyone! This is a lovely recipe that is easy to customize and tweak- delicious with Parmesan or goat cheese or without. I like the idea of yogurt- beautiful with the mint.


Julia said...

Your food photography is AWESOME! Seriously... Some good stuff...

Gigi said...

This is Great - you must know me or something because I make this dish at least 1x a week! I mix up the meat every so often though: it ranges from grass-fed bison to grass-fed beef to ostrich to elk to grass-fed lamb --- as a matter of fact, I made this with grass-fed ground lamb last night! DELICIOUS! One thing I put on top... button mushrooms: you MUST try that!!!

Karina Allrich said...

Julia- Thank you!

Gigi- Great tips- thanks for sharing. I'm going to add mushrooms next time. Yum.



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