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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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September 20 2014

Primal Celery Root Lasagna

By Worker Bee
35 Comments

Primal LasagnaIf lasagna is comfort food that you just can’t quit thinking about, then pull out that lasagna pan because this recipe is going to make you really happy. Even the most carb-addicted, pasta-loving person you know will be hard pressed to admit that this Primal lasagna isn’t delicious. This lasagna is the real deal – minus the noodles, of course.

In place of noodles are thin sheets of celery root, a vegetable with a mild flavor and tender texture that does a fine job of impersonating a lasagna noodle. Extra scraps of celery root are pureed with butter to give the lasagna a creamy middle, no ricotta or béchamel sauce needed. This recipe isn’t completely dairy-free though, because if you’ve been really craving lasagna, then a cheese-free version just isn’t going to cut it. However, if you don’t do dairy no matter what, then you can use this recipe as inspiration to make a cheese-free casserole of meat and veggies layered with celery root (and let us know how it turns out).

But if it’s lasagna you want, then you’ll love these ultra-satisfying layers of roasted tomatoes, ground beef, and mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Comfort food has never tasted so good.

Servings: 4 to 6

Time in the Kitchen: 1 hour 15 minutes, plus 30 minutes to bake lasagna

Ingredients:

Ingredients

  • 6 Roma tomatoes, cut into fourths lengthwise
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided (75 ml)
  • 3 large celery root
  • 3 tablespoons butter (45 g)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef (450 g)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (5 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (30 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (30 ml)
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese (approximately 90 g)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (22 g)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 325 ºF/163 °C.

Toss the cut tomatoes with 3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (to prevent sticking) and lay the tomatoes on the baking sheet, evenly spaced. Lightly salt and pepper. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the tomatoes are very soft and wrinkled.

Step-1

Step-2

Use a paring knife to trim the skin off the celeriac root. Use a larger knife to cut each root into a square shape. Save the scraps that are trimmed off and set aside.

Cut each square celery root into very thin square/rectangular sheets, 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. (3 mm to 6 mm)

Step-3

Bring a pot of water to a gentle boil. Add the sheets of celery and boil for 3 to 5 minutes until tender and easily pierced with a fork. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to lift the sheets out of the water. Set on a towel to cool.

Cut the celery root scraps that were set aside into pieces that are about the same size. Drop the pieces into the boiling water, cooking until tender. Drain. While still warm, puree in a food processor with the butter until very smooth. Add salt to taste. Hopefully, you have about 1 cup of puree.

In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes then add the ground beef. Season with salt and pepper.

Step-4

As soon as the meat is no longer pink, stir in the oregano and tomato paste. Continue to cook until the meat is browned. Turn off the heat and stir in the basil. Add more salt to taste if needed.

Preheat the oven to 375 °F/190 °C

Divide up the ingredients so you have enough for each layer, and in an 8×8 (20cm x 20cm) baking dish layer the ingredients in this order:

Step-5

  • Celery root sheets
  • Meat
  • Tomatoes
  • Celeriac puree (use all of it)
  • Mozzarella
  • Celery root sheets
  • Meat
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery root sheets
  • Mozzarella
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano

Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 35 minutes until the cheese on top is nicely browned and bubbling. Let the lasagna sit at least 10 minutes before cutting into it.

Lasagna

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35 thoughts on “Primal Celery Root Lasagna”

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  1. Not to just be contrarian- but aren’t we giving into “carblike” instead of weaning of even that which tastes like carbs (noodles)?

    I am sure this will delight some, but I do think it easier to avoid even that which appears to be something it isn’t. But hey, it’s just me– I am sure many will devour this recipe and like recipes and think I am being a crank!

    But hey– that Philly Cheesesteak with optional Primal Cheddar– burp!

    1. Agreed in general — there are other “paleo” recipes that are not very paleo. When I see baked goods that look like cookies and muffins and the like, I see an attempt to replicate the modern diet and likely not very paleo in composition (paleo man did not eat huge quantities of nuts and seeds).

      But steak and salad gets old once in a while. This looks good and I’m trying it. Plus the kids may actually eat it.

    2. I think avoiding recipes because they might be “carblike” is kind of silly. The amount of carbs you get from eating the celeriac and tomatoes in this surely can’t be that much of an issue, and if the recipe tastes good and uses ingredients I can take that’s enough for me. I do agree that at times the desire to replicate crappy food with something that is good for you gets out of hand but I see a lot more of that with desserts; I think it’s a lot easier for people to forego the starchy carbs than it is to do without sugar, hence the proliferation of cookies and sweet bread attempts I see on so-called paleo sites, as well as all the other desserts with honey, etc.

      Having said that, while I like some celeriac recipes, I’ll have to try this one to see if it flies for me. That’s a root that can wear out its welcome easily for me if I get too much of it.

    3. If we were talking a gluten free flour with rice flour in it, I would agree. But Celeriac is a root. It’s as primal as sweet potatoes.

    4. Everyone’s carb requirements are different. I eat primal, but I need more carbs to maintain my weight and keep my blood sugar stable because I have a very high metabolism.

  2. This looks like a nice way to give some celery root to my kids. Nice recipe 🙂
    The “carb-like” comments above don’t make sense to me. Lasagna is lasagna, it is a “design”. Using celery root for the layering is just one way of implementing the original design. If you don’t want to use wheat flour based noodles, there is absolutely no contradiction with the original design, and celery root is really nice. So if it does the job, then I say GREAT!

  3. ‘Carb-like’ or not, if you have a rich sauce, you need something to carry it – and what’s not to like about celeriac, zucchini etc? I can confirm that lasagna works very well with celery-root noodles – and kohlrabi ‘spaghetti’ makes great carbonara (I tend to pre-cook anything of this type in the microwave in a rice steamer; 4 minutes on high followed by a few minutes self-steaming with the lid on works for most things…)

  4. I routinely use roasted thin sheets of butternut squash in place of noodles in lasagna. It isn’t so much about faking out the noodles as it is the form factor of a layered casserole with something drier and more cohesive than, say, eggplant.
    I got the idea for this from an Anne Burrell recipe (talk about a not-primal cook!), but with minor adaptations it works and can be fed to a crowd without even explaining why there’s squash in the lasagna.
    Just go to the food network website and search for “Roasted butternut squash lasagna”. Not too much to change there.
    Oh, I often use other meats in this besides the pork. The key is to have a fairly thick filling.

  5. This recipe looks really good! Thanks for posting it, Mark! I don’t remember the last time I had lasagna, so if celery root works as a healthy primal substitute for traditional noodles, I’m in! I’ve never had celery root before, so could be interesting.

    I also don’t agree with the “carb-like” issue, especially when you’re using vegetables as a substitute. This recipe looks both satisfying and healthy. I do think it’s easy to get carried away with nut flours and such, though, in an attempt to paleofy high carb baked foods like muffins and such.

    My biggest struggle with sticking to a primal diet is finding enough recipes that I like so I can have some variety. Sadly, a lot of paleo recipes just aren’t appealing to me or require unusual, really expensive ingredients that I can’t possibly use up before they eventually go bad. But this one looks like a keeper!

  6. I was making lasagna with zucchini “noodles” before I ever heard of Paleo. This is just another way to get vegetables into lasagna. I have never had celeriac and am looking forward to trying this.

  7. I’m more worried about the primal sweets as that is a sure way for me to fall off my routine. I do what works and what I can get my family to eat. Also recipes like this are a great way to introduce someone to primal.

  8. I’m very interested in this idea. I’ve always loved the taste of lasagna the way I make it but due to the wheat I’d be in big trouble and it’d just sit and rot in my tummy. Bleck! The alternative was rice noodles but they aren’t good enough for the rest of the family. This just may be the ticket for us now. I have a husband and son that still eat off primal when we are not eating at home so this will be encouraging to them. Next will be pie crust that will pass the “it’s not like my mom’s” but it’s really good test…… For me it’s all about offering something that is similar to what their comfort food is so they won’t “out source” it at someplace on the way home.

  9. I really need to try making some sundried tomatoes! I love them and can never find ones at the store without weird ingredients!

  10. Love this, can’t wait to give it a go!

    I’m definitely pro “Paleo” alternatives to non-paleo foods – just because it makes things more accessible to the masses. As long as we also have the nay-sayers balancing things out, making sure we don’t all drift too far from a strict approach.

  11. I tried this, and it was great. Strongly recommend. Trick is to cut the celery root pretty thin. But even thicker ones worked well.

  12. Does anyone think this would freeze well with the celery root? I haven’t tried freezing celery root before, but like regular lasagna this could be great to double and save for later

    1. Thanks for asking that Colleen; was wondering exactly the same! And thanks Helen for the answer 😉
      I’m in the UK, and I’ve never tried celery root before, in fact tbh I had to Wiki it to find the Anglicised name! ~We could do with a glossary for alternative food names on here – I’ve spent hours looking for ingredients like “flaxseed” to find out we call it “linseed” and that although we call it “coriander” whether it’s fresh leaves, seeds or ground, you guys call it “cilantro” if it’s leaves!
      I have learned to use some weird and wonderful ingredients lately!
      I haven’t seen celeriac in supermarkets, (but apparently Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s all sell it -on their websites!) or maybe I have and mis-took it for a nobbly swede! (rutabaga, I believe you call them)
      Anyway brilliant recipe idea – I’m all for the primal substitutes for “normal” foods. This will make feeding my non-primal (or so he thinks!) carb-loving hubby an easier task. He was raised on Italian food (parents had a restaurant for 37 years) so trying to get him off pasta is like pulling teeth! He’s a bit of a stubborn mule when it comes to food, so I make meals, he eats and says “that was good” then I tell him what was in it! So far I’ve got him to eat sweet potato “tagliatelle”, cauliflower in risottos (and in place of mashed potato, and rice for curries/paellas etc – cauliflower is the “do-all” veg in my house!) and this will be my new go-to “pasta” I think, can’t wait to try it!

      1. Hey, just a thought; I wonder would these “pasta sheets” roll up to make cannelloni? Anyone tried that?

  13. I made this, well my recipe without the onion. It tasted just like the good old lasagna that didn’t digest but tasted great. I’m going to do this AGAIN!!!
    Thanks for whomever thought of this and tried it and shared it. I had it as left overs for lunch. I’d make it for company and just not tell them it’s not noodles.
    Tonight I made pork chops with rhubarb chutney. The chutney was a “dump a dump a” recipe of fresh rhubarb, a dab of lemon juice, a couple of table spoons of evaporated cane juice, some dried cherries, garlic and onion softened in oil and then at the last a dab of apple cider vinegar. That cooked down to a jam and went so well with those chops that I’ll have to write it down and make it again.
    I am thinking of making more lasagna and putting it in containers to freeze and take to lunch every so often.

    1. Oh and ginger, a couple of slices of ginger to give it that little kick, in the chutney.

  14. I’m super new to Paleo, but couldn’t you just use zucchini sliced with a mandolin lengthwise as the “noodles”? That’s what I used to do for my vegetarian friend when I made lasagna – zucchini is Paleo, right? Couldn’t I do the same here, make a meat and veggie layer, and just omit all the cheese layers? Or am I missing something (totally possible)?

  15. Hi Grokians! I made this this past week and everyone loved it! Also they did not even realize that they were NOT eating pasta!

    Grok on!

  16. Thank you Mark for this recipe.

    Yummy ! everyone (except 15 year old picky son) loved it. My husband even prefers it to traditional lasagna and I’m allowed to cook it again (highest praise on his culinary compliments list). The celery puree has now made it to my best ever eaten foods list, and I don’t even like the smell of the green celery sticks, let alone the taste of them!

    I had to buy a very large root, it was almost the size of a soccer ball but it meant that I had plenty of sheets left over so they were boiled and frozen with the hope that it will work for the next lasagna.

    My primal mom and I are thinking of making this in BIG batches and freeze in portions to have it ready really fast when the cravings come.

  17. Great recipe, thanks for that. I used to do lasagna with the cabbage instead of pasta but celery packs the whole thing together much better. At the end I put on the top mixture of heavy cream, egg and grated mozzarella and it tasted fantastic.

  18. I made this recipe this past Sunday for dinner. Was absolutely delicious! I substituted the ground beef with half mixture of ground pork and ground turkey.

  19. can we substitute celery root with other veg?

    it is not the taste that i dislike; but it is like wrestling to carve out. my arms & hands & figures get sore.

    so in general i avoid cooking with it.

    (re. “primal/paleo” substitute: why such “carb phobia”. it’s a vegetable)

  20. ok. i made it yesterday.

    it is pretty good except the celery root.
    they were pretty tedious to slice. almost got tendonitis. LOL.

    it just seems add nothings to the overall tastes. it is there only for the texture & layering. yes?

    at one point, the smell of “celery” is too overpowering & the kitchen smells almost herbal & medicinal. it’s such an overdose of celery that i probably would not eat it for at least a year!

    so next time, i’ll try something that taste neutral that go along with the tomato_ oregano. the rest of the recipe is really good. no overpowering tomato either.

    cheers,

    thanks.

  21. So after waiting apparently more than a year to make this (it’s very hard to get celery root where i live) it was dinner yesterday. OMG! I thought this might be good (i made lasagne before with eggplants and zucchini) but it was much-much better than my expectation! The celery root gives it an incredible flavour! Whoever came up with this idea is a genius! Thank you so much for this tasty recipe!

  22. I’ve been skimming through your recipes and I apologise if you explain this somewhere on your site, but I want to ask what your take is on vegan/vegetarian paleo meals. Although your recipes look delicious (and I dig the ethos of the paleo lifestyle and diet) a lot are very meaty.
    I am lactose intolerant and meat seems to really have a bad affect my stomach (I have IBS). Is it just perhaps the way I prepare it? Is there a way to do paleo whilst being dairy and meat free?
    Many thanks.

  23. Has anyone tried a root alternative, like turnip root? Celery root is something I cannot find in my little Wyoming town. Thanks!

  24. I’ve followed this recipe twice now, celery root was new to me and the smell worried me but it’s the yummiest combination and easier the second time, once I knew what we were aiming for! Mouthwatering.