Sunday, April 3, 2016

Slow Cooker Lasagna

 Spicy Italian sausage is my go-to meat for lasagna and meatballs. It adds such wonderful flavor! This slow cooker lasagna is easy to put together, plus you can walk away and come back to deliciousness without worrying about it burning in the oven.

Growing up, my older sister and I took turns cooking dinner when my mom went back to work. One of my favorites was the Hamburger Helper with that pasta that looks like lasagna noodles but way skinnier. When my younger sister got old enough to cook too, she often made real lasagna. It was sort of her specialty and I guess it still is.

You really can’t compare Hamburger Helper to real lasagna but I’m going to dare to compare the real stuff with one cooked in a slow cooker. I must confess that it doesn’t look as pretty as a neatly cut square of an oven-baked casserole and the crispy bits around the edges that we all fight over are missing. But all in all, with a huge plus for ease of assembly and hands-off time, it’s quite delicious, especially when made with spicy Italian sausage meat.

2.2 lbs or 1kg spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
4 cups or 360g grated mozzarella cheese.
2 cups or 500g ricotta
12 sheets (about 8 oz or 225g) uncooked lasagna noodles
6 cups or 1475g spaghetti sauce (your favorite)

To serve: freshly grated Parmesan and sprigs of parsley, if desired

Pan fry and drain your sausage meat, breaking it into crumbles. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little while.

Put about 1 cup or 240ml of sauce in the bottom of your slow cooker. Layer in 3-4 lasagna noodles, breaking off the corners so they sit nicely in your slow cooker. Put the little broken pieces in any gaps.

Mix the ricotta cheese in with the crumbled sausage meat.

Add one half of the meat/ricotta to the top of the noodles.

Then sprinkled on one third of the shredded cheese and add another cup or so of the sauce to the top.

Repeat the process starting with another layer of noodles. Finish with noodles then sauce. You should have one third of the mozzarella left. Put it in the refrigerator for later.

Cook for six hours on low.

After about five hours.

About 1 hour before serving, add the reserved shredded mozzarella cheese. Cover and cook until melted.

To serve, try to scoop up a good cross section of the lasagna through all the layers.

Top with fresh grated Parmesan, if desired. That’s non-negotiable in our house. A little parsley adds color as well.


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