Lasagna updated for time-crunched lives
For the Nevada Appeal
This is a super easy recipe for lasagna and it’s amazing to me that the noodles go in uncooked.
What!? you say? Yes no pre-cooking necessary, none of those subpar “cooking-free” noodles. Cooking the noodles is the most irritating part of making lasagna, to me. Bringing water to a boil, cooking noodles in batches and then working with hot noodles … ugh. I hate it and it takes the most time.
The most amazing part about this recipe? Are you ready for this because I think it’s a shocker! I made lasagna the day before I moved to a new house – with 95 percent of my kitchen packed in boxes. Yes, it is that easy!
The slow cooker to the rescue. Most of the work of lasagna can be done all at once: cook your noodles and make a homemade sauce that develops deep flavor with minimal effort. Seriously, whoever invented the slow cooker is genius.
If you are like me I like to use homemade marinara or tomato sauce for my lasagna and it takes hours to cook (granted, I make sure I have some in the freezer to pull out when I need it). Then you still have to cook the noodles, and then assemble the whole thing. The prep time in this recipe is significantly less.
Alter this recipe using ingredients you like. The sauce below is just a simple sauce I use for weeknights and is not the good tomato sauce I usually use. But I was moving and didn’t have any sauce available in my freezer. Don’t hesitate to use your favorite store-bought sauce too. Mix it up a bit and use different meat – or no meat. I used sausage because that is my favorite.
Slow Cooker Lasagna
2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes (I used diced but think crushed would work better)
2 teaspoons herbs de provence (or basil, oregano, thyme mixture)
1 clove garlic, smashed (or 1-2 teaspoons garlic powder)
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon sugar
3 cranks of fresh black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 large container ricotta cheese
1⁄2 cup grated parmesan
1 cup mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper
1 large package of spinach
1 pound ground beef, chicken or pork, sausage (optional)
1 box of regular lasagna noodles (not the no-cook kind)
Brown the meat and set aside.
If you use your own homemade sauce – start it like you would normally and once it is completely assembled and to the point in your recipe that all it needs to do is simmer, it is ready to be used in the slow cooker lasagna (remember the lasagna will cook for 3-4 hours in the slow cooker).
If you are using this recipe, mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a large bowl and set it aside.
In another bowl, mix the ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella and salt and pepper, set aside.
Now it’s time for assembling your lasagna in the slow cooker.
1. Put a little sauce in the bottom of the slow cooker;
2. Top with uncooked lasagna noodles. You may have to break the noodles into pieces to make sure you cover the bottom of the slow cooker (don’t hold back make sure you fully cover each layer with noodles even if they are little pieces, nobody will know);
3. Add two cups of spinach (it looks like a lot but it will cook down);
4. Add 1 cup or so of sauce;
5. Dollop 1 cup or so of the ricotta mixture, then smooth it around;
6. Top with a layer of noodles;
7. Repeat another layer or two (or until you run out of ingredients;
8. End with sauce and top with mozzarella cheese.
Cover and turn the slow cooker on low for 3-4 hours, or until the noodles (in the center) are tender.
• Amanda Skiba is passionate about cooking and posts her favorite recipes at http://www.stuffurface.wordpress.com