I know you are probably thinking that there is no way that LASAGNE can be easy, right?
I thought the same thing at first. It was always a special treat at our house, something that wasn’t made very often and usually only upon a special request.
But, you see, I love lasagne. Simply love it.
But it’s a lot of work. Cooking the noodles, layering the ingredients… bubble-overs in the oven… it’s yummy but is it worth it for a week-night dinner?
So, when Little Bit announced, during Big Girl’s birthday dinner @ Provino’s (a local Italian eatery) that her friend’s lasagne looked yummy, I was on a quest to figure out a way to make it for my family, and make it easy for me, too.
Enter my favorite appliance: the crock pot. (Big Daddy, no less)
I did some research online to see what other crock-pot lasagne recipes were out there and then decided to make mine up as I went along, using what I knew from the traditional way of making lasagne (learned from my grandma) and the newfangled crock-cooking methods.
And I loved the fact that it was all cooked with very little prep time (or work) by me. I think my total prep time was less than 15 minutes.
One secret? I used no-boil lasagne noodles.
Many of the recipes I researched didn’t use them, so I think you could probably get away with using “regular” lasagne noodles. I just happened to have them in the pantry from another recipe and decided to use them up for this one. If you did use the “regular” noodles, I’d probably increase the liquid in my sauce just a bit to prevent things from drying out.
Another thing – Ricotta cheese is traditional in lasagne. I saw as many recipes with cottage cheese as I did ricotta. What did I use? This time – cottage cheese. But that was mostly because I had it in the fridge and I wanted to use it up. Ricotta would’ve meant a trip to the store I wasn’t in the mood to make. I honestly don’t think you can tell a difference once you cook it.
I also used a store-brand 4 Cheese Italian blend because that was what I had on hand, so don’t feel like you have to go out and buy special cheese for this.
The kids loved it as did SuperMan. Little Bit had it for lunch two days in a row (in a heated thermos) and said it was even better the next day. I have to agree, as it was my lunch the next day as well.
So, if you like lasagne give it a try. And if you’ve never tried making lasagne before? Give it a try! This one’s easy-peasey.
Easy-Peasey Crock Pot Lasagne
1 box no-boil lasagne noodles
1 pound ground beef (or turkey)
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 onion, diced fine
~1-2 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
~1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 large container of Ricotta or Cottage Cheese
2 cups (minimum) Parmesan/Mozzarella cheese (blended)
reserve about 1 cup of this blend for the topping
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
In a large skillet, sauté your onions in olive oil until translucent.
Add the ground beef (or turkey) and cook thoroughly.
Once your meat is browned, add the garlic and cook for approx. 1 minute.
Pour in your tomatoes and heat through.
Depending on how “saucy” you want this, you could also add a can of tomato sauce or some petite diced tomatoes. (I didn’t)
In the crock pot, spray some non-stick spray, being sure to go all the way up the sides.
Ladle about 1/2 cup of sauce onto the bottom of your crock. Be sure you have a light coating on the entire bottom. This will ensure nothing sticks.
– noodles (break them up to make a complete layer)
– cheese (I alternate the creamy cheese & shredded cheese layers)
Keep layering until you reach the top or run out of ingredients. Try to finish with a layer of sauce and top this with your reserved parmesan/mozzarella blend.
Put your crock on high for about 2 hours and then on low for another 2 hours.
If you are making this on a workday (or when you are not going to be home) set it on low for 4-5 hours.
Serve with garlic bread and salad.