Typically to me, a crock pot meal is one that I can throw in before I go to work for the day (I work 2 days of the week) and then when we return home the house smells wonderful and dinner is ready. This meal however does not take the typical, day long cooking time. This meal cooks on low for about 3 hours, and in that time the house starts to smell amazing! To me this would be a perfect meal for my troop when I was going out for the evening and Doug was staying home with the kids. Ha! Who am I kidding, that typically happens maybe once a month when I sneak out for book club! But, still, this would be an ideal meal to serve on nights like that. I cooked this for about 3 hours on LOW and then turned it on WARM because I could tell it was done cooking, and dinner "time" wasn't quite upon us yet. I forgot to take a picture of the ingredients for the sauce, however they are simple to throw together, I also let the sauce simmer for a little bit before assembling the meal in the crock pot. I used my mom's recipe for the meat sauce. Here is the delicious sauce, I used 1 lb. of Italian sausage which can easily be substituted with ground beef. I find that the Italian has a lot more flavor, but does add some spice to the meal, nothing mine couldn't handle, but for some it may be a little too much.
After I had let the sauce simmer it was time to get the cheese mixture, also known as, the layer of lasagna my husband could do without layer. I love it though, and I use cottage cheese, although I know many people prefer ricotta.
After mixing the cheese layer it is time to assemble the layers in the crock pot. I sprayed my crock pot with a non stick cooking spray, just to be on the safe side. Starting with the meat, spread that out in the bottom, top with some of the cheese mixture, then breaking the noodles to fit, layer the lasagna noodles over the cheese mixture. Repeat, and end with sauce on the top layer. Make sure you use regular lasagna noodles, and not the no boil, or the oven ready ones! That is the nice part of this recipe, no need to do anything with the noodles but lay them in your crock pot. As you can see, I was able to use one noodle down the middle then finished off each side by breaking the noodles up to fit. Not very pretty, but ending with the sauce as the top layer no one will ever notice!
Low heat for about 3 hours, and the last 15 minutes I added about 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese to the top and let that melt. The edges were a little burnt, but I love that when I eat lasagna. My husband had to ask before eating, "What's in this that I won't like?" Knowing that he probably wouldn't like the cottage cheese and the diced tomatoes in the sauce I smiled and said, "Nothing!" It worked as he had 2 nice size helpings! This picture makes my slice of bread look enormous, what can I say, I love some warm bread with lasagna and a salad!
Crock Pot Lasagna
1 TBLS olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. Italian Sausage
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (I used fresh ones that I still had from my garden)
1 large can (29 oz.) tomato sauce
1 small can tomato paste
Heat oil, add onion and garlic for a minute then add meat and cook till no longer pink, drain. Add remaining ingredients and simmer on low
Mix together the following
2 c. large curd cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 TBLS. parsley
1 box Lasagna noodles
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Spray crock pot with no stick cooking spray. Layer sauce mix on the bottom, followed by the cheese mixture, then the lasagna noodles. Repeat steps, and after lasagna noodles add reaming sauce. Cook on LOW for 3 hours, last 15 minutes of cook time, sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese.
I have to admit, I made this to really just see if it would work. I don't mind making the traditional lasagna when I have the time, but this was definitely easy and I will be making it again this winter!