CrockpotLasagna

I'm trying to develop a good crockpot lasagna recipe. Initial results are promising.

Note I have a large crockpot (8 quart), so you will need to scale this down for a smaller model.

Ingredients

  • Two boxes spiral pasta
  • One large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • .5 lb mild italian sausage
  • 1 28 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 16 oz cottage cheese
  • .5 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2.5 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp dried oregano

Directions

Brown ground beef, sausage, onion, and garlic in frying pan. Get the beef lightly brown and the onions translucent.

There's no need to drain the fat off the mixture.

Add the tomato sauce, paste, oregano, and salt to the pan. Stir well and heat until everything is warmed up.

Start layering everything in the crock pot as follows:

  • First, lay down a thin layer of the meat sauce mixture
  • Then, a single layer of the noodles
  • Thicker layer of mozzarella
  • Thin layer of cottage cheese
  • Thin later of parmesan (you can really just sprinkle this on).

Continue layering the same way until you fill your pot. Note that the top layer should be meat.

Set crockpot to low and cook for about 4 hours. Check after 3 hours, that may be long enough. You don't want to dry it out too much or burn too much on the sides. You will probably get some amount of burning on the back side, don't worry too much about that. You can just throw away the burnt crust.

Notes

It might be a good idea to cook the onion and garlic mix in a little bit of olive oil for a few minutes before adding the ground beef, to ensure the onions are very soft.

Dice the onions into the smallest chunks you can easily manage.

A diced green pepper would probably work pretty well in the meat sauce.

I don't like to use regular lasagna noodles but you can try them as well.

I would like to hear ideas for other spices I should try.

One problem is that the crockpot doesn't cook from the top like an oven. Thus if you leave a layer of pasta on the top it won't get cooked. I've tried that and I end up just discarding the top layer of uncooked pasta. That's why I recommend ending on a juicy meat layer.

This recipe is probably too pasta-heavy. I might try increasing the amount of pasta sauce.

This will overcook badly if left on low for 8 hours on put on high. It's really important to cook this on low for four hours or less.

Overall I'm very happy with the taste of this lasagna, and my family likes it too. Note that this really does make a large amount of food, but it's easy to store in the fridge or freezer.

Update 4/8/12

I modified the recipe and added the following:

  • additional 14.5oz can of tomato sauce
  • 2 cups sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 diced red bell pepper

I also substituted bowtie pasta for the spirals.

I found that these changes resulted in a more balanced dish which wasn't so pasta-heavy. The mushrooms and peppers also added a rich texture to the meat sauce. The bowties cooked more evenly than the spiral pasta. The extra tomato sauce also made the dish less dry when done.

This turned out well and I will probably make the lasagna more along these lines in the future.

Update 5/20/12

Modified from original as follows:

  • reduce ground beef to .5 lbs
  • add two diced medium zucchini
  • add one diced red bell pepper
  • substitute bowtie pasta for the spirals
  • increase cottage cheese to 32 oz.
  • increase grated mozarella to 3.5 cups

Again this helped make the lasagna less pasta-heavy. The zucchini adds a nice texture, and the increased cheeses really add to the mouth feel. It seems like the extra liquid from zucchini made up for not adding more tomato sauce.


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