Crockpot lasagna!

A triangular slice of lasagna rests on its side on a plate.Even with the air conditioning running 24/7, it has been a brutal summer. Brutal enough that I cringe at the thought of turning on the oven, as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts. I’ve been missing lasagna. So, I decided to experiment with my crockpot (slow-cooker) today. Here’s what I got.

Ingredients

SAUCE

  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp garlic paste (or approx. 2-3 garlic cloves, minced)
  • 1/2 C finely chopped carrot
  • 1 Tbsp dried rosemary (crushed in a mortar & pestle)
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 2 pinches black pepper
  • 2 tsp celery salt
  • 2 C water
  • 2 beef flavour packets/cubes
  • 2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp A-1 steak sauce
  • 2 lbs ground beef (I used extra lean)
  • 2 jars of your favourite tomato sauce

OTHER INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box oven-ready lasagna noodles (NOT cooked)
  • 2-4 C cheese (depending on your preference — we like ours really cheesy!) – I used a mixture of mozzarella and asiago
  • 1/4 C parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 2-3 tsp garlic powder

Method

  1. On medium heat, saute the onions, carrots and garlic paste in olive oil and butter in a large pot. (I used a dutch oven.)
  2. Once the vegetables are softened, add the rosemary, oregano, basil, pepper and celery salt and cook a moment longer, allowing the dried herbs to ‘wake up’ a bit.
  3. I was cooking up frozen beef, so I added the water, beef flavouring, Worcestershire and A-1 steak sauce first. I brought this to a rapid boil, then added the meat and cooked it with the lid on the pot until the beef was cooked through. Then I used a potato masher to break the meat up. (If you’re dealing with fresh beef, go ahead and add it and brown it, then add the water / beef flavouring, Worcestershire sauce & steak sauce.)
  4. Pour in both jars of the tomato sauce, reserving 1/4 C of the sauce for the assembly stage. Bring the whole pot to a boil, lower  the heat  and simmer for 5-10 minutes until everything is warmed through.
  5. Spray the inside dish of your slow-cooker with non-stick spray.
  6. Set your slow-cooker to high and pour a few ladle-fuls of meat-sauce mixture onto the bottom of the slow-cooker. Pull out a few of the lasagna noodles and place a layer on the bottom, breaking them up a bit to allow them to fit. You will probably need to overlap the noodles a bit.
  7. Take some more noodles and break them down so they are the same height as your slow-cooker’s dish height. Layer these along the sides of the dish, creating a noodle “wall” around the edge.
  8. Layer some of the meat & sauce mixture on the noodles on the bottom, then sprinkle with an equal amount of mozzarella and asiago on top, then repeat with: noodles, meat sauce and cheese until you’re almost to the  top of your slow-cooker, ending on noodles. Make sure you have some cheese reserved for the top, but don’t add it yet.
  9. The mistake I made with this was not putting sauce on the top layer. The noodles did not cook on the  top very well, so this is what I would do to fix this: add the reserved sauce (no meat) on top of this last layer of pasta. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese, parmesan, the dried parsley and garlic powder.
  10. Place the lid on the slow-cooker and cook for 2-2.5 hours. Check it at 2 hours with a knife to test the firmness/softness of the noodles.
  11. When ready, carefully cut the lasagna into 8 pieces with a long knife, then carefully serve using a large serving  spoon.
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