Using the slow cooker to make your dinner is kind of like making your bed in the morning. You’re doing a really nice favor to a future, more tired version of yourself. The few times I ever accomplish this feat in premeditation, I get home to a hot meal and a crisply made bed. “I should’ve just married myself,” I usually decide.
In searching for a new slow cooker recipe, I came across the concept of slow cooked lasagna. Lasagna has always been the epitome of convenience in my life. In college, mini Stouffer’s lasagna in the middle of the school day was the ultimate in fast food luxury. I walked around campus eating my scalding hot pasta every single day, armed with quickly regenerating taste buds and an early 20’s metabolism.
Somewhere in the middle of prepping the slow cooker with ingredients, I realized “Why the hell would anyone slow cook lasagna?” The prep time is pretty much the same and the cook time is quadrupled. Unless you absolutely can’t stand the idea of waiting the forty-five minutes it takes to bake in the oven, it really doesn’t feel like you’re taking a shortcut. Spoiler alert: slow cooked lasagna tastes no different than regularly cooked lasagna. You still have to cook the meat. You still have to prep your cheese. You still have to build the damn thing.
Despite this realization, I carried on and as expected, made incredibly delicious lasagna. It only took five hours, not including the extra hour I spent shopping for a new slow cooker after my original one exploded (another tip: don’t heat oil in the slow cooker insert on your stovetop unless you want to die.)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 lb Argentinean sausage, casings removed (I decided to switch up the typical Italian sausage for a different type of spicy bite)
- 2 jars (24 oz each) cans of tomato sauce – I prefer to make my own, recipe below.
- 2 cups water
- 1 lb. ricotta cheese
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 18 lasagna noodles
- 1 ½ lb of grated mozzarella cheese
- 2 oz. of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Fresh basil for garnish
Homemade Tomato Sauce Ingredients :
- ¼ cup of the best olive oil you’ve got
- 1 Spanish onion chopped into ¼ inch dive
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tbsp of thyme)
- 2 28-ounce cans of peeled whole tomatoes crushed by hand (the fun part!) and keeping the juices
Homemade Tomato Sauce Instructions (if you’ve got the time it’s definitely worth it, otherwise, buy 2 28-ounce cans of sauce)
CRUSH ALL THE TOMATOES!
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan
Stir in the onion and garlic, cooking until they soften and are a light golden brown (8-10 minutes)
Add the thyme and cook for about 5 more minutes
Add the tomatoes and their juices to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir often and lower the heat, simmering for 40-45 minutes.
Season with salt. You can use it all for the lasagna or change your mind and keep it in the fridge for up to a week.
Warm the olive oil. Add the sausage and cook while breaking up large chunks with a spoon.
When the meat is browned (10-12 minutes), add the tomato sauce and water and bring to a simmer.
Transfer the sausage/tomato magic sauce to a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, stir the ricotta, parsley, salt and pepper together.
Spread a thin layer of the sausage/tomato sauce on the bottom of your slow-cooker insert.
Layer on a couple of uncooked lasagna noodles. Yes, that’s right. You saved seven minutes not having to boil them. Big whoop. Feel free to break the top edges off to make them fit.
Spread 1/3 cup (or just a thin layer) of the ricotta mixture over the noodles.
Top the mixture with 2 cups of the sauce. Sprinkle about 1 cup of the mozzarella (stop eating it with your hands) and ¼ cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano (cheese is so good.)
Repeat the layering until you run out of ingredients, starting with the noodles each time.
Cover your slow cooker and cook on low for about 4 hours until the noodles are tender and cooked all the way through.
As an added bonus, set your oven to broil and stick the slow cooker insert in the oven and broil it until the cheese gets all sexy and bubbly, taunting you with its delicious fat content (this usually takes about 6-8 minutes)
Rest for 20 minutes before your serve it so you don’t burn off your taste buds and hate yourself for not being able to enjoy your meal. Top with basil and enjoy feeding your closest 12 friends with this monstrosity that took you all day.