The weekend experimentation continues in the wonderful world of the GreenBerryTreeHouse Kitchen. I have nothing against traditional oven-baked lasagnas, but there are lots of advantages to going with this recipe instead, not the least of which is the aroma that snakes through the house all Sunday afternoon.
I am also of the personal opinion that the crock pot produces a brighter, fresher, more concentrated flavor. You also don’t have to worry about the edges of the pasta over-cooking and turning to drywall.
I have seen many competing crock pot recipes that instruct you to add the pasta un-cooked, but my experience has taught me that over-cooked crock pot noodles tend to break apart and turn to mush. Cooking them separately guarantees against this, and then adding them to the last 90 minutes or so of cooking incorporates them perfectly. Every bite of pasta and sauce in this recipe will be a perfect Italian delight.
Recipe follows after the pics. I used a 6.5 quart Cuisinart Slow Cooker. It’s mid-range in price and one of the best additions to the kitchen. It’s been a real love affair between the two of us.
Gary’s Italian Lovers Slow Cooker Lasagna
- 1 ½ Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped, plus extra for seasoning (to taste)
- 1 ½ Tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped, plus extra for seasoning (to taste)
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 pound ground pork
- 4 large, fresh tomatoes, chopped rough
- 2 6-ounce cans of tomato paste
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 medium zucchini, peeled, stemmed and seeded
- 2 yellow squash, peeled, stemmed and seeded
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded
- 9-12 pieces lasagna (9 worked for me, but feel free to double layer any extra noodles together)
- 3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 3 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the turkey and pork in a skillet, season as desired, and drain.
Combine the cooked meat mixture, chopped tomatoes, the two cans of tomato paste, onion, garlic, zucchini, squash, bell pepper, jalapeno to the crock pot. Mix well. Add the oregano and basil, and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Mix again.
Cook in crock pot on LOW for 8 hours.
Taste throughout the cook and adjust seasonings as desired.
Approximately six hours into the cook, boil lasagna as instructed on package (in boiling water for about 12 minutes should do it), remove and lay flat on an oiled baking sheet. Let sit for about 10 minutes.
Using a large bowl and ladle, remove all the sauce from the crock pot with the exception of a thin layer, just enough to cover the bottom.
Lay in 2-3 pieces of cooked lasagna, spoon back in the sauce until the lasagna is just covered. Spread some of all three cheeses on top, and reserve enough for at least two more layers. Add another layer of lasagna on top of the cheese, and repeat the entire layer process. Then repeat again. You want to end with a top layer of lasagna noodles and just enough sauce and cheese to cover them. Add more basil and oregano on top of desired. If you have enough room for an extra layer, go for it.
Cover crock pot and leave alone for the rest of the cook.
Serve immediately when the 8 hours are up.