I love lasagna (actually I love all pasta, I'm an equal-oppertunity pasta consumer) and I love my crockpot. I've been dreaming about the two merging and coming up with something glorious.
I guess Real Simple Magazine heard my pleas, because in the January issue there is a recipe for "slow-cooker lasagna."
Lasagna is a slow cooking food anyways. It takes at least 45 minutes in the oven (if not more). This recipe promises to have it ready in 2 hours, 25 minutes.
I wanted to try this recipe out for a special occasion. It was my friend Cougar's birthday, so I opted to have a small dinner party in her honor. The recipe claims to serve 6, so I purposly only had Cougar and another friend over because I was convinced we wouldn't have enough food.
Because we were going to see a movie and then have dinner, I threw everything in the crockpot and set it on the lowest setting and let it cook for 3 hours. We came home to a house that smelled delicious.
2 28 ounce cans of diced tomatoes, drained
3 garlic cloves fibely chopped
1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped
Kosher salt and pepper
16 ounces fresh ricotta
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsely, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
12 ounces dry lasagna noodles
1 bunch Swiss Chard, tough stems removed and torn into large pieces
12 ounces mozzarella, grated
Now before I start in with the directions, let me tell you how difficult these ingridients actually are. The first grocery store I went to had two types of parsely: curled and uncurled. I assumed the uncurled was really flat leaf.
That grocery store did not have swiss chard. There had been some debate between my friends and I on if I should include the swiss chard. I don't like it, I had a bad experience with it, but Cougar (who likes her veggies hidden in food) wanted to try it. The second grocery store I went to had two types of chard: red and green. I felt like the swiss chard I'd had and hated was red, so that's what I bought.
Oh, and no one had fresh oregano. I bought one of those fresh spice in a tube things.
In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
In another medium bowl, combine the ricotta, parsley, Parmesan, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Spoon 1/3 cup of the tomato mixture into the bowl of a slow cooke. Top with a single layer of noodles, breaking them to fit as necessary.
Add half the swiss chard. Dollop with a third of the remaining tomato mixture. Sprinkle with a third of the mozzerella. Add another layer of noodles and repeat with all the other ingridients. Finish with a layer of noodles and the remaining ricotta mixture, tomato mixture, and mozzerella.
Set the slow cooker to low and cook, covered, until the noodles are tender, 2 hours
1. Leave out the swiss chard (unless of course you totally love it and won't mind that some bits will be cooked and soggy and other bits will be bitter and tough). I don't see why we couldn't have used spinach, or even left the veggies out.
2. Use the no boil noodles.
3. I didn't like the chunky tomato consistancy. I like my sauces smooth. Next time I'd use regular jar sauce.
4. It was really hard spreading the ricotta on the swiss chard. It might have worked better if the layers were noodle, cheese, chard, tomato, cheese.
5. I had a square crock pot and the noodles fit pretty well. It really does serve six. This is a tall lasagna.
It wasn't bad, but most of us kind of ate around the chard. I have leftovers and I won't mind eating it for the next three days as long as I can pick out the chard.
I'd say the crockpot lasagna was a moderate success.
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