Slow Cooker Lasagna, A Healthier Version of my Favorite Comfort Food!

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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.

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While the sausage cooked, I set to work on the slow cooker ingredients. 1 yellow onion, medium diced, went into the crock pot.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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40 minutes later, it was looking and smelling like lasagna!

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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!

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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

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

All the great lasagna flavor from your slow cooker, with less carbs, fat and calories than the traditional layered dish.

Credit: invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

-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

 

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Stir in the lasagna noodles and continue to cook for another 30 minutes.
  4. 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. 
 

Enjoy 🙂

 

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Three layer Lasagna

We have a crazy schedule this next week. As a family, we are all over the place! Our son has a performance one night, my husband is working two nights, we are rock climbing a couple days and we have 17 miles on the half marathon training schedule this week! We need some easy, fast, quality fuel that any one of us can just throw into the oven or microwave whenever we find time for a meal. So, I made a recipe that always delivers! It’s one that I have been tinkering with for a few years. I finally have decided that it is exactly how I want it. This three layer lasagna will feed us for the week, and it will taste just as good next Friday as it does tonight on Sunday.

There are a couple components to make before the assembly but they are simple and quick. I started with the preparation of the noodles. I followed the package instructions and intentionally under cooked the pasta as it will continue the baking process after assembly of the lasagna.

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I placed the par boiled noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet and coated them with olive oil to prevent sticking. Next I started on the tomato meat sauce.

I sautéed the onion and garlic first then added the sweet Italian sausage and cooked until the pink color was gone. Then the tomato products, seasoning, and herbs were added and the mixture simmered until thickened. The final component was the cheese mixture which included ricotta, goat cheese, pecorino and parmesan. There are a total of five cheeses in this recipe!

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Then it was time to assemble the final product. I like to use a larger baking dish (10 in X 17 in) and place the noodles along the short side, 6 lasagna noodle fit for each layer.

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The layers are as follows: 1/3 of the tomato meat sauce, 1/2 of the cheese mixture, 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella, and repeat.

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The final layer has the last 1/3 of the tomato sauce, 1/3 mozzarella and big handfuls of more pecorino and parmesan cheese. Since all the components are already cooked the lasagna only needs to heat through and brown on top. I garnish with fresh herbs at the end.

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I made a quick garlic bread to finish the meal and we were ready to eat!

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You can view the recipe by clicking on the link below, I hope you give it a try!

 

three layer lasagna