Slow cooking Italian style

Published 6:18 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Several weeks ago in this space I gave encouragement to break out your crockpots and provided a recipe to boot. Apparently it worked.

I’ve received a lot of feedback from that column and even a few requests for a follow up.

As the old saying goes, “ask and ye shall receive.”

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I firmly believe one of the reasons crock pots fell out of favor in the first place is that what you put in them can, at times, be boring.

It’s hard to beat roast, carrots, potatoes and onions but you can’t eat that everyday.

The key to successful crock pot cooking is to treat it like a little oven. Just about anything you can cook in the oven, you can cook in a crock pot.

Like lasagna.

If you make lasagna from scratch, it can take a long time. And, honestly, lasagna isn’t east to make.

Until now.

Even in the crockpot it still takes a long time (about four hours), but you don’t have to stand over it and it’s a lot easier than making it “the old fashioned way.”

You’ll need:

1 lb lean ground beef

1 onion , chopped

2 garlic cloves , crushed

1 (28 ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

1 and a half teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon dried oregano

6 ounces cottage cheese (I prefer 2%)

6 ounces ricotta cheese

half cup grated parmesan cheese

12 ounces lasagna noodles, uncooked

16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

Brown ground beef, onion and garlic. Do not drain. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt and oregano and cook long enough to warm. If you have a favorite spaghetti sauce, you can substitute that over the tomato sauce and paste but make sure you have at least 32 ounces of it.

Spoon a layer of meat sauce onto the bottom of the slow cooker. Add a double layer of uncooked lasagna noodles and top with all the cheeses. You may need to break the noodles to make them fit depending on the size of your crock pot. Repeat with sauce, noodles and cheeses until all are used.

Drizzle about 3/4 cup of water (or red wine) around the edges of the pot to prevent sticking and burning.

Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours. Time will vary based on the size and heat of your crock pot so you need to start checking it around the 4 hour mark.

Do not try to rush the cooking time by switching your pot to high or medium.

Just like anything else, you can make different variations of this lasagna every time you make it.

Try using a half pound of ground beef and a half pound of sausage rather than just a full pound of ground beef if you like a little spice. You can also use whatever cheeses you like and as much or as little as you like. What I have provided in the recipe above is just a starting place. If you like yours really cheesy, dump it in!

I like to add some cheddar cheese to this recipe, too.

Tiffany Cannon is a field editor for Taste of Home Magazine and owner of 2ate9 Bakery and Catering in Demopolis. She can be reached at