One of my favorite things to do on weekend mornings is to watch cooking shows, mostly on the Food Network Channel. I sleep a little longer and my hubby gets up first. He puts on a pot of coffee and I get up when I smell the brew! I flip on the TV and do my morning stretching/yoga routine, while sipping Starbucks coffee and watching chefs whip up various dishes. I often draw inspiration for my weekly menu planning this way. Last weekend I hit on a great one!
I was watching The Kitchen and Katy Lee demonstrate her recipe for “slow cooker lasagna soup.” What drew me to this was the ease of the slow cooker-I could assemble in the morning and have it ready for the end of the day. Also, I love the idea of controlling the amount of overall carbs and calories! This method would greatly reduce the number of lasagna noodles and amount of cheese in my regular lasagna recipe. Another huge bonus is that not all of my family eats cheese. The traditional lasagna is layered with cheese and noodles making it hard for people who want to avoid the cheese to pick around it. The cheeses are added at the end with this method, and if you want to skip that step all together, you still get all the great lasagna flavor!
I set out to modify my current recipe for this technique. Super easy and tasty!
I started by browning 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, breaking it up into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. This was drained to remove any extra grease, which I did not want in the final dish.
While the sausage cooked, I set to work on the slow cooker ingredients. 1 yellow onion, medium diced, went into the crock pot.
From here we just start adding ingredients! Granulated garlic, 2 cloves of fresh garlic, Italian seasonings, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, crushed tomatoes in puree, tomato paste, tomato sauce and the sausage. I like to mix dried and fresh herbs, so chopped basil and oregano are included. Be careful with fresh oregano-it is much stronger than dried so a little goes a long way!
We need quite a bit of liquid because the lasagna noodles will need to cook in the sauce, near the end of the cooking time. So, 4 cups of low sodium chicken broth was added, along with salt and pepper.
This gets a big stir, covered and then set on low for 8 hours, or high for 6 hours. The noodles are added during the last hour to 30 minutes of cooking time. I like traditional lasagna noodles as opposed to the “no bake” variety, but I suspect that they would work too.
The number of noodles you choose to add is really up to you. You could use other noodles as well, as long as it is a hardy version. Raviolis would be wonderful too!
I broke up 8 lasagna noodles and stirred them into the sauce mixture.
40 minutes later, it was looking and smelling like lasagna!
This was spooned into two soup mugs, that were oven safe, and we covered it with grated mozzarella, shaved parmesan and Italian parsley. I put them under the broiler for about 6 minutes. This is completely optional! You could save the calories and fat and dive right in!
We were thrilled to get the lasagna flavors in a healthier version! I am not going to pretend that this is good for you, it is comfort food. However, you really can alter it for your own health goals. Give it a try and let me know what you think 🙂
Slow Cooker Lasagna
All the great lasagna flavor from your slow cooker, with less carbs, fat and calories than the traditional layered dish.
-1 to 1 1/2 pounds of sweet Italian sausage
-1 medium sized yellow onion, med chopped
-1/2 teaspoon granulated of powdered garlic
-2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
-1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
-1 bay leaf
-1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
-1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes in puree
-1 6 oz. can tomato paste
-1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
-4 cups low sodium chicken broth
-2 to 4 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
-1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
-1/2 teaspoon black pepper
-8 oz. fresh mozzarella, grated
-Shaved or shredded parmesan, for sprinkling
-chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the italian sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- In a slow cooker, combine the sausage with the garlic, both fresh and powdered, the dried Italian seasoning, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, chicken broth, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook on high for 5 1/2 hours or on low for 7 1/2.
- Stir in the lasagna noodles and continue to cook for another 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to broil. Ladle the lasagna into ovenproof bowls. Top each with a few tablespoons of shredded mozzarella, a sprinkle of Parmesan and the parsley. Place on a baking sheet and heat under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly, 5 to 8 minutes.