Being Italian, Pasta is basically always at the top of my comfort food list. In all it's many incarnations, homemade pasta is basically love and comfort in a bowl, at for me:. Sometimes, you just need Lasagna, you know what I mean? However, sometimes I just don't have the time to make a traditional lasagna, as much as I would like to. Last year, my wonderful Mama gave me a cookbook that was a compilation of recipes from the people who work at her hospital, and in this book are several delicious stew and pasta recipes that have been designed for a slow cooker. My two favorites from this book are the Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese (that one will probably show up in a later post), and the star of today's show, Crock Pot Lasagna. Yes, friends, Lasagna wherein you can throw virtually all of the ingredients into the Crock Pot, uncooked, forget about it for a few hours, and then have it ready and waiting for you. The only "cooking" you have to do is brown the meat before it goes in. Oh, Crock Pot Lasagna, where have you BEEN all my life?
BEFORE WE BEGIN: This version does not serve up as neatly as traditional lasagna (the kind you put in the oven and serve by cutting and serving in squares). Getting the lasagna out of the Crock Pot can make the layers more prone to falling apart, so they won't be pretty, perefectly shaped squares, but that certainly won't affect the taste. The flavor is not exactly the same as traditional lasagna either, but it's pretty darn close and goes together in about one quarter of the time. So, here ya go, throw this in the Crock Pot mid-morning and the bubbly, cheesy, meaty pasta goodness will be ready for you by dinner time :) YUM:)
Crock Pot Lasagna
- 6 Lasagna noodles, uncooked
- 1/2 lb. ground beef
- 1/4 lb Italian sausage (you could also use all beef or all sausage, depending on your tastes)
- 1 garlic clove (or 1/2 of a garlic clove if garlic isn't your thing, although I find it hard to believe people like that actually exist 0_o)
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (okay, I'll be honest, the recipe in the book called for 1 cup, but if you think that's all I used you clearly don't know me very well :) Use however much tickles your fancy:)
- 14 oz. Pasta Sauce, we make our own in my family, but if you do jarred sauce, use your favorite brand.
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 can mushrooms (optional, I've made it both ways, and they're both tasty, again, do as you please)
- 8 oz. Ricotta Cheese (my Mom mixes one egg and a little parsley into the Ricotta cheese, even though the recipe in the book doesn't call for it. I prefer it my Mom's way, but it's your call)
- Grease Crock Pot (Unless it's non-stick. I was tempted to skip this, don't. A thin coating of oil or Pam should do you just fine)
- Break noodles in half and place 1/2 of the noodles in the bottom of the Crock Pot. Brown beef and sausage and drain. Spread half of this mixture over the first layer of lasagna noodles.
- Follow the meat mixture with half of the sauce, water, mushrooms (if using), ricotta and mozzarella. Repeat ingredients in this order for the second layer, ending with the mozzarella cheese.
- Cook on low for 5 hours. Serves about 4 people.
This recipe is enough for about two layers. If you have a bigger/deeper Crock Pot, or you are feeding more people, this recipe can be increased by 1/3rd (for a third layer), doubled or even tripled. That's why I love dishes like this, they can be adjusted to feed as many people as you can crowd around a table. Pasta is Magic :)
To give credit where it is certainly due, this recipe came from the Community General Hospital Family Cookbook:)
UPDATE 11/26/11: I would like to apologize for the photo quality in this particular blog post. This was back when I was still getting the hang of food photography and wasn't very adept at getting step by step photos. The next time I make this dish I will reshoot the photos and put them up here so that they better illustrate the recipe :)